Generally, we try our hardest to push negative emotions aside as quickly as possible. We want to be happy and cheerful. In fact, we have to be happy and cheerful, because one can choose to be happy and nobody likes a whinger. And there’s always someone who will say: It could be worse!
When we experience negative emotions, we often blame someone else, or a situation, or we feel guilty, because, after all, we’ve got a good life. We don’t want to be afraid. We don’t want to be scared. We don’t want to be angry. We don’t want to be sad. So we distract ourself with food or drink or scrolling on social media, by arguing, by working, partying or working out even harder.
Eventually, we become so used to suppressing our emotions or blaming them on someone else, that we do not know if and what and why we feel, and why we do certain things.
It’s useful to know that our emotions are not caused by certain people or situations. If that were true, everyone would think and feel the same about certain situations and people. Our emotions arise from the thoughts we have about ourselves and the world around us. And that is what causes our behaviour.
In 2018 I was not doing well. I contacted a psychologist, forced myself to keep working, to work out, and do “fun” things, and I meditated daily. Whenever any bad memories and thoughts about certain experiences from the past came up, I did my best to get rid of them as quickly as possible. I tried to replace them with positive thoughts and to distract myself. Sometimes it worked, but only for a little while.
It came to a point where I felt so distraught and helpless, that I thought to myself: alright, then! I cannot feel any worse than I am feeling now! And instead of suppressing them as quickly as possible, I allowed my memories to surface. Instead of defusing them as quickly as I could, I allowed the feelings and emotions that come up to rush through my head and body.
Be kind to yourself
It sounds simple, and it was, actually. That doesn’t mean it was easy. It was quite frightening! But it didn’t take long for me to realize that I did not need to be afraid of my feelings and emotions. As soon as I stopped fighting them, the fear, anger, self-hatred, guilt and aversion ebbed away. And I learned to accept the past and myself without judgement.From that moment on, slowly but surely, I started to get better. I was able to enjoy life again and laugh at myself. I cannot change the past, but I found a way to let go of it. And I learned a lot. I live more mindfully now and I have gained more peace from regulary checking in with my feelings and looking for the reasons why I have certain feelings.
Check in with your feelings more often. And be kind to yourself and others.