We all have different experiences and stories, but despite the differences we all know how it feels like to suffer emotions like fear, jealousy, anxiety, hurt, disappointment and so on. We experience emotions all the time, but do we know how to free ourselves or do we escape?
When we look at the core of humanity we realize that we are not that different. Our stories and the content of our lives may differ, but the experience of fear and jealousy are basically the same. Yes, emotions may differ in strength and intensity but at the core it is the same experience. This insight shows us that we are the same. We are deeply connected.
Is it possible to escape negative emotions?
When we fear our emotions we try to avoid them in any way we can. We have become very skilled at escaping our emotions by suppressing them, running away from them, distracting ourselves or ignoring them. If we try to deal with them it is usually because we want to get rid of them, which means that we are fighting with them. We run away from emotions through our habits and addictions.
The reality is that we can’t escape our emotions, simply because they are a part of our existence. Emotions will arise. If we try to escape them, they will arise in another way at some other time. The question is: how can I end the battle with my emotions and find peace as they arise? If we can become friends with our emotions, we don’t need to be afraid of them anymore and the inner fighting comes to an end.
How to deal with negative emotions?
First of all we need to understand that emotions are not a result of the external situation. If we believe that the situation or another person is responsible for our own emotions, then we will try to change them. I guess we all have tried that. A lot. Did it work? Of course not. Because that is not the root cause of the emotion. So how to deal with negative emotions?
The root cause of our emotions comes from within ourselves. Our conditioning and our beliefs determine how our emotions manifest inside us. If we observe what happens inside when we experience any kind of emotion, we will see that behind the emotion there is thinking. We are creating our own emotions by the way we think. It may sound too simple to be true, but I urge you to investigate this in your own experience. You will be surprised how simple it really is. Here is how you face your emotions:
- Bring attention to the present moment. Allow yourself to connect with the emotion that is arising in you. Don’t try to escape it. Choose to be with it. Find a space where you can be with yourself for this process.
- Say to yourself: I choose to be with this emotion fully. I allow it to unfold even if it gets uncomfortable. I choose to let go of my resistance now.
- Just observe the emotion as it manifests in you. It may grow or shrink or stay as it is. Whatever happens, just stay with it as it is. Don’t try to force it or push it. Bring your full attention to the emotion and allow yourself to feel it completely. If you don’t resist anything, you are allowing it to reveal itself.
- Listen to your thinking as you observe the emotion. Don’t try to analyse your thinking or the emotion. Just listen and notice which thoughts are flowing through your mind as you observe the emotion. When you do this, you will discover the root cause of your emotion which is the story you are telling yourself. Without the story, the emotion can not exist. When you truly see that it is a story and not a reality, you become free of it.
When you go deeply into this way of observing yourself, you will know that you have the power to free yourself. This knowing will help you to face any kind of negative emotion that may arise. You might need to practice this several times before you see any breakthrough. Each time you practice observation you are strengthening your ability to see deeper and sometimes you might feel like you are miles away from discovery and the next moment you see something that you never saw before. Don’t chase an end result because whatever that is, it is not what you think it is. You always discover something new, because if you don’t, it is just the same old thinking as before. As Einstein once said: You can’t solve a problem with the same kind of thinking that created it.
The truth sets you free
When we go through negative emotions we often tend to give explanations why we feel so and so. We give reasons and meanings to our emotions in an attempt to understand them better so we can deal with them better. This is a way too easy escape route and it never leads to any real transformation or freedom. If we really want to be free of the negative emotions we must learn to bring attention to what is actually happening, so we can see what is true and what is false. Awareness leads us to the wisdom that we all carry within. When you use your awareness in the right way, you become free.
In this article, I’ve shared my personal knowing and how I’ve been able to break through limiting emotions and discover inner freedom. It is not meant as a complete guide on how to deal with negative emotions because it is a vast topic and I only touched on some aspects here. I invite all my readers to share their experiences on this topic and let me know if you find the practice helpful. Thank you!