Written by Maria Connolly. Posted in Life Skills, Mindfulness.
“Our feelings are our most genuine paths to knowledge.” —Audre Lorde
Do strong emotions like shame, anger, guilt or worry hold you back from living your life to the fullest? Do you often find that you consciously or unconsciously avoid “feeling bad” for fear of “being swallowed” by painful and difficult feelings? You’re not alone in feeling that way; however, there is a way to live a more meaningful life.
To begin creating a richer life experience and better management skills, you need to understand this vital truth:
There’s a difference between disliking unpleasant emotions, yet riding through them because you accept they’re an inevitable part of life versus experiencing unpleasant emotions as unbearable and needing to get rid of them.
Often people are convinced that they “can’t face”, “can’t bear”, “can’t stand”, or “can’t tolerate” emotional distress. Being intolerant of experiencing emotional discomfort can actually produce a whole set of other problems, as it interferes with living a fulfilling life and can worsen any emotional discomfort you might be experiencing. If you recognize that you have difficulty facing your feelings or tolerating distress, then read on to learn ways to overcome this pattern.
Here’s another truth you must embrace: There’s a big difference between feeling better and doing better. When we focus on feeling better we’re consumed with wanting to get out of an uncomfortable feeling, NOW! When we emphasis doing better, we focus on learning to tolerate the feeling, being curious and learning that there are a lot of hidden gifts in staying present with what’s difficult and painful.
When you experience difficulty in facing your emotions, here are five simple truths to remember:
- Difficult emotions are necessary and useful. They’re also universal. Every human being experiences these types of emotions.
- No emotion is permanent or unchanging. Emotions tend to come and go like waves in the ocean, rising and falling in time. Sometimes it can feel like your rage, guilt or sadness will last forever, but it won’t.
- You can never hope to eliminate unpleasant emotions, and in most cases, trying to block these emotions intensifies your problems.
- Though you can’t block undesirable emotions, you can learn to experience these emotions without feeling such distress and without having to react impulsively.
- When you learn to be with difficult emotions, you discover hidden gifts, messages from your body about your external circumstances.
It’s a misconception to think that if you could only get rid of negative emotions you would solve all your problems. Life is too unpredictable. Life happens. You can only begin to tap into your internal power when you realize that you’re a spiritual being having a human experience. This allows you to peacefully embrace every one of your human emotions as part of your daily occurrence.
We are never done with learning how we relate to our world, others and ourselves. This CAN be a fascinating journey or a dread depending on your attitude. Doing better means that, in spite of what happens in your life you have the life management skills and resources to navigate it in an attentive and sensible way. Often it’s beneficial to have an objective professional guide you through this process. If you’re ready to do so, please contact me and we’ll unlock your potential for excellence together.