We are not sad … we feel sadness.
We are not angry … we feel anger.
We are not afraid … we feel fearful.
“Feelings are just visitors. Let them go.”—Mooji
Perhaps you were labeled temperamental, shy, anxious, or even naughty as a child. But those tags were not who we were … you merely experienced challenging sensations in your younger years. And my guess is you didn’t have the proper tools to deal with these feelings.
Whether emotions appear as weekend guests or long-term renters, these feelings may influence our actions and behaviors, but they do not define us.
Yet sometimes emotions are stubborn and decide to linger longer than we’d like. No matter what we do, they just won’t leave us alone. Maybe they stay because we aren’t allowing ourselves to fully experience their sensations, taking in what they’re meant to show up. So, they coaxe us into states of melancholy or dare us to allow our fury to flow because they know it’s good for us … it’s what we require. Often, we’re resistant because feeling can be uncomfortable, scary, or perhaps inconvenient. So, we stuff these unwanted visitors deep within. But if emotions are left unattended, they can do damage and appear as “issues in our tissues”—ailments, muscular aches, or even disease. However, if we choose to be present with these sensations, they usually disappear.
If this is true, then why do we so often ignore our emotional states? What makes us think it’s better to pretend these unwanted feelings don’t exist? Why can we just listen? By resisting what is, aren’t we only make things worse?
“Fuck it and fight it or feel it and free it.”
I have no idea where this phrase originated from, but I first heard it during my yoga teacher training. After I stopped laughing, I realized its wisdom! Incredibly impacted by this saying, I had it printed on a coffee mug.
For years I’d been ignoring, burying, or metaphorically flipping the bird to many of the undesirable emotions that rose within. Whether I was not prepared to deal with these feelings, or I just didn’t want to, they were never fully processed. Maybe I was afraid, or perhaps I had no clue how to unpack what was really underneath. Nevertheless, by not confronting my fear, anger, worry, shame, and guilt—and shoving them below—I allowed a festering to occur. Most likely these buried emotions are the culprits behind certain illnesses, emotional issues, and triggers I’ve experienced.
Yet, it’s the second part of the saying, “feel it and free it,” that gave me hope. Was it possible to release what I’d buried? If I let these emotion—both conscious and unconscious—surface, could I invite them in? Listen? Hear what they’ve been wanting to say?
Now I’m not suggesting you take the lid off your personal Pandora’s Box and have a Kumbaya session with all the thoughts, feelings, and sensations you’ve been avoiding forever. Somehow, that sounds like a recipe for disaster. But you could ask one or two to come to the top, show themselves, and then consider what insights they might offer. Then, slowly, over time, explore the deeper, more difficult feelings.
Our experiences and interactions with others cause reactions which evoke emotions (some pleasant, others not). Sometimes we’re ready to process—or learn—from those moments. Yet, frequently we’re not, so we protect ourselves and reject these uncomfortable feelings. But until we deal with what we’ve avoided, those blobby emotions form thicker, heavier muck that weighs us down and causes all sorts of problems.
That’s why I’ve been digging deep, trying to excavate what I’ve dismissed … because I was unable to process them when they first appeared. But now the older, more weathered, and perhaps a bit wiser version of me is ready. What am I to learn?
Truthfully, this is difficult work. Certain emotions are painful, tempting us to think our past progress was only a sham. But never believe that. While we’re moving forward, rarely is our growth linear. With each uncovering, we have the opportunity to experience a new grace, a deeper understanding, and heart-felt gratitude. But we may also become sidetracked, questioning areas of our lives we assumed were solid. However, this is all part of the process.
The next time you sense an uncomfortable emotion, instead of sending it away, consider allowing it to stay. Do your best to embody it. Pause to listen to the nuggets of wisdom it’s here to offer. And after you’ve received its message, thank it … then let it go. As you continue to integrate what’s meant to be learned, appreciate the experience. Know you’ve made one more step forward … on your journey … closer to your soul’s purpose. After all, is that the reason we’re all here?