There is a concept I must have touched on previously, but did I spotlight it? Give it its due? I’m not even sure at this point. Regardless, it bears a revisit. All ways, always.
Because I surely need my own reminder.
It is about feeling all of the feelings, not just searching for the ones that light you up. The feelings that light most of us up are the ones that feel good and amazing. The high vibe, high energy feelings like happiness, elation, joy, even contentment and peace.
Those are the ones that we are constantly in search of to drive us forward.
Yet the truth is that we cannot feel the depth of the goodness that comes with happiness, elation, joy, contentment, or peace without having deep experiences with the opposite.
I’ve spent many years avoiding pain. I consider myself to be a master level expert on pain avoidance. I have leveled up time and time again. Because to feel the feelings, we have to face the fear of feeling it first.
It is so much easier not to.
Yet all too often, we fail to realize that avoidance and resistance is the cause of our suffering, not the pain itself. The pain itself has the potential to be short lived if we simply allow it to be.
It goes against our nature to do this, though. It goes against that basic instinct to seek pleasure and avoid pain. That isn’t just reserved for the physical level, of course. We easily apply it to our emotions.
The exploration of those dark corners is something to be avoided at all costs. This is what we tell ourselves.
“I don’t have time for that.”
“It’s not important.”
“I need to move on.”
That last one in particular is something we use to diminish the importance of having feelings and it’s such a curious thing to do, considering it is the essence of what makes us human.
What happens when we continue to push it down, to soldier forward and steel ourselves against a negative emotion that we just don’t have time to fully “appreciate”?
I’m not sure where it goes when we push it away, but I can assure you that it isn’t gone.
It’s simply waiting for the most inopportune time to resurface.
Like that annoying person you and your friends don’t want showing up to your party, so you as the host do everything in your power to ensure she doesn’t get an invitation. After all, you can’t disappoint your friends. Let’s give the annoying friend a name, shall we? How about Inadequacy?
In the days leading up to the party, you have a lot to do. You don’t have time for Inadequacy. So you buzz around and busy yourself and try not to think about her.
Yet some part of you hasn’t forgotten completely. Some part of your intuition may even nudge you to have a visit with Inadequacy and face her before the event. Maybe spend a little time with the truth.
What’s that? Time? Nope. Don’t have it.
Avoid. Disregard. Deflect. Whatever it takes to get out of doing what’s hard.
Have you ignored Inadequacy long enough so that she gets the message to stay away?
Of course not! No, that bitch shows up while the party is in full swing and makes the biggest scene in front of everyone.
Now you’re left with a long list of other difficult emotions to address and you have no one to blame for that but yourself. Who else shows up? Frustration? Guilt? Rage?
All you had to do was take a little time with Inadequacy, welcome her in for a bit, and listen to what she has to say. It could all be over in a matter of minutes.
You are the one who let it drag on for weeks through your avoidance, so this emotion showed up at the worst time. That is all on you.
I do like to name the emotion before inviting it to sit with me. Sometimes it isn’t always clear and I need prompts from a fellow coach. Where this work can really become valuable is having a confidante help you to question yourself and your thoughts.
What’s really bothering you?
Is it what someone else said? What they did or didn’t do? How they act toward you? How they continue to avoid you as if you are the negative emotion for them? What do you make these things mean about you?
That’s what you have to ask yourself, especially when you find yourself projecting onto others that if only they behaved in a way that met your expectations, you would feel better.
That’s textbook co-dependency, my friends. Keep your power. Don’t give it to someone else.
You have to start with asking those questions of yourself, then you find the emotion, name it, and allow it to be with you.
I’m going to be honest, allowing is an art and it takes practice.
It is also necessary if you want to free yourself of it while you learn and grow from the experience.
My dear friend and fellow coach said something during a recent session where I played the role of client. I have been struggling with a very real scenario and one that we’ve touched on before. We came to the part of naming the negative emotions that were lurking beneath the surface.
She said, “The price of admission is walking through the fire.”
That resonated so deeply because I have been envisioning flames for some time. It’s no coincidence that when I think of lighting up, I see a flame. It’s no accident that the artwork for my new podcast is a flame.
The price of admission is walking through the fire.
In her book, Untamed, Glennon Doyle writes:
I finally stopped avoiding fires long enough to let myself burn. The fire of pain won’t consume me. I can burn and burn and live.
Everything I need to become the woman I’m meant to be next is inside my feelings of now. I will continue to become only if I resist extinguishing myself a million times a day. If I can sit in the fire of my own feelings, I will keep becoming.
Numbness keeps us from becoming.
That last sentence is especially poignant for me as well, as I began using the tagline “stop numbing, start becoming” long before I read this book! Everything seems to be coming into alignment now. All of the messages are there and will continue to shine bright if you pay attention to your inner self with her crazy party mix of emotions.
Letting all of the feel-good emotions in is easy and effortless. They are indeed the life of the party. But they become even more vibrant, energetic, and whole when balanced with the dark and painful emotions.
Somewhere along the journey to adulthood, it was impressed upon us that we should only think happy thoughts and feel good feelings. No one tells us there is a place for the bad ones too. There is a reason they are there. We have to feel them all. All of the feelings. Especially those lurking in the dark corners. They need our attention too.
“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” – Haruki Murakami
Always remember that you are the cause of your own suffering. When you find yourself in that space, it’s time to search for the emotion you’ve been avoiding and invite it in for a sit down. Emotional pain is always temporary.
Practicing the art of allowing builds your power. I invite you to try it.
I am happy to coach on any topic, including the current pandemic events. I’m absolutely here for you! Book a free session with me here.