Do you know who you are? Do you truly know who you are?
Are there places within you that you choose to ignore, that you avoid exploring for fear of what might dwell there?
Are there emotions and feelings which you choose to push away for sake of fearing imbalance and chaos? Are there parts of you which you would repress, hide and pretend they weren’t there?
Can you truly know yourself if you do not allow every part of you to simply be, allowed to dwell freely within the reality of this existence?
Emotions are Messages
Emotions are but messages, sent by the body or the soul or the spirit. They are sent to tell us something — a truth that can but escape the attention of our conscious awareness. Consciousness can only know so much, you see — yet the deeper part of us, that which remains beyond the direct experience of consciousness, is itself aware of much more than the eye can see.
Emotions are but a container for the messages our deeper and wiser selves would have us come to read. Take a rest, you’re exhausted. This person is lovely, become more intimate with them. You should to eat now, your body needs it.
We are taught to treat some emotions as positive and others as negative, yet from the point of view of your deeper self there is only positive — for emotions are the harbinger of self-love. If you should be emotionally exhausted from spending a lot of time around other people, then a feeling of depression might set in. This feeling is not a punishment, but rather a gentle request for spending some time with yourself — away from the stimuli which have come to be overbearing.
No, there are no negative emotions. The only potential problem comes from resisting or ignoring the beautiful messages contained within these emotions. Should we resist the flow, should we impede the fluidity of our emotional energy, then frustration sets in. This frustration is what ultimately leads to the really and truly dark places we’re generally so afraid of: anxiety, depression, and anger.
There Are No Negative Emotions
Anxiety occurs when we should get stuck within our emotions, not allowing them to flow for sake of keeping appearances and pleasing others — a misguided attempt at balancing the unbalanceable. This causes an essential conflict within us, a sort of war between the me and the I and the them. It’s an internal split through the fabric of our being, a great tear of dissociation and a wound of the soul.
Depression is an absolutely normal thing to experience when we become exhausted from too much emotional stimulus. Too many ups will eventually cause a strong down — emotions forming a wave and even stronger emotions forming a rollercoaster. It’s important to take a rest should we become overstimulated. Resistance to this rest, for cause of shame or for insistence in keeping the ups going further, only serves to deny our emotional bodies the rest they so truly needed. Lasting depression thus follows from obstructing this flow, turning a temporary and dynamic state into a static and permanent one.
Anger is the simplest of all: emotions left to stagnate, prevented from flowing, will sooner or later start to overflow the great dam of the ego. Regardless of which emotions we disallow ourselves from experiencing in the moment whence they came, in overflowing they will all take the mask of a great raging torrent. Thus yields anger, symptom of a truth not acknowledged.
We often resist negative feelings for sake trying to remain happy and joyful at all cost, yet the sad cost of this is that unexpressed feelings will simply linger and become thwarted and amplified.
A mysterious truth reveals itself, should we allow the depression and sadness to fully flow and permeate our beings: that happiness is not mutually exclusive with what we normally judge as negative feelings. If anything, resisting the negative feelings is what causes true suffering and pain. Allowing those to flow, free of judgment or inhibition, can bring about a deep and meaningful sense of freedom — a blissful and ecstatic experience that goes way beyond the standard definition of happiness.
Depression itself can thus become a beautiful gift — whereas through it, we may come to uncover magical and unfathomable parts of us. It is no surprise that some of the greatest creators in history were also some of the most sensitive, emotionally fluid, and of course at times depressive or otherwise emotionally troubled individuals.
Creative expression is the one great remedy to emotional pain. Not repression, not silencing, not shame. Emotions are a great gift, something to be celebrated — and perhaps are of themselves the very meaning of life. What is life but fluidity and change? Was is life but fragility and the ability to feel and experience the wonders of this universe? What is life but motion?
Life is Motion
Emotions are motion. They are movement, change, and evolution. Should they be forced to stand still, they will rot and putrefy the foundations of the soul.
We are scared of emotions because we are scared of acting them out. They may take us into a place which we simply do not want to visit again.
In those moments where we would feel a resistance to embodying the emotions fully, then we can instead learn to allow ourselves to witness these emotions. Through sitting quietly, through saying hello to the feelings and going inwards and appreciating the messages they circulating in our bodies, we can hear the messages of the soul and respond to them before they become overwhelming.
It is through mindfulness that emotions can become our sincerest of friends, rather than the dreaded enemies we often look to them as.
The messages our emotions send us may not always be obvious to understand. These are not rational messages, you see — they speak the language of intuition. Abstract and poetic, they are to be translated by the body and by the heart — never by the mind.
Witness the Motion
Learn to allow yourself to witness your emotions. Learn to let them flow, and to trust that they are telling you something valuable and wise. They are your most sincere allies, though this might be difficult to see at times.
Some people cope with extreme emotions by going inwards, disconnecting from the world and shutting down entirely. Others cope with bursting outwards and letting the steam out in exaggerated and uncontrollable manners, something which can bring great shame or regret in the after-facts.
These two extremes are not helpful. What is helpful is conscious allowance — the allowance that forms the basis of self-love. When strong emotions wish to surface, it’s wise to take a break from whatever is happening in the moment. It’s wise to take a break and follow the basic steps of mindfulness in processing the aliveness of the present experience:
1. Stop and breathe. Breathing will relax your body and enable the emotions to flow more clearly.
2. Disengage: I am not my emotions, I am not my thoughts. This is a gentle reminder that emotions, as overwhelming as they may be, are merely a message sent from you to you — but they are not you, nor are you them.
3. Witness: What’s happening in me right now? By witnessing the emotions, we come to detach from them and to see them from a more objective stance. Thus we allow ourselves to read the messages they harbour, something which is impossible should we be drowning within them.
4. Allow (or not): Can I allow the experience which these emotions are guiding me through? Emotions may want to take us somewhere — laughter from joy or crying out of sadness. Do we want to allow this to happen in the present moment? It’s ok to say yes, and it’s ok to say no. The important thing is to be aware of the choices we make, consciously and lovingly.
Trust and Faith in Your Own Experience
Social conditioning comes with a hefty dose of prescriptions with regards to emotions: boys don’t cry, nice little girls don’t get angry — but emotions are a personal experience, not to be subjected to the generalized judgments and interpretations of others. No one but you can claim to understand what’s happening right now. No one but you truly hears the messages you are sending to yourself.
Emotions are about needs, and emotional health is about trusting those needs. It’s trusting the messages our bodies are sending us, every moment of every day — because those messages are there for a reason, hard though it may be to see. This requires listening to those messages intuitively rather than intellectually. It’s learning to respect our bodies as sacred spaces, to be cared for and cherished as the hosts of that which we are.
No one can tell you anything about this body of yours and the experiences it harbours. Only you know anything and everything about what’s going on in there. Trusting this, if anything, is the ultimate nature of what it means to have Faith. Faith — not in an external authority telling you how and what you’re allowed or supposed to feel — but in trusting that, deep inside you is all the wisdom you will ever need.
Deepest inside you is the truth of who you are. Simply listen.