Periods of turmoil usually bring great inner unsettlement and a loss of peace of mind. This is natural when old foundations (of anything) are being shaken to make way for the new. An essential part of authentic growth that challenges established orders — within and without. A process that is inherently not without turmoil, despair, grief and fear.
By themselves, these are not problematic. What makes us believe they are is the agitation that actually comes from resistance to feeling these emotions. The more we fight them, the more we allow them to hijack us. And they do. In that sense, we cannot avoid feeling difficult emotions if we intend to grow from our experiences of strife. What we can do instead, is learn to be agile with our emotions, befriend them, so we feel without carrying the heaviness.
Distress in times of strife comes from our inability to meet grief, which is such an integral part of renewal or growth. We fear grief as a heavy, cumbersome emotions that is best avoided. And we march on, investing a great deal of effort into being stoic and putting up a brave front. But if we do not grieve what we are letting go (good, bad and all of it) we cannot welcome what is waiting in the wings.
Learning to feel, rather than think about emotions, not judging them as conditions that need fixing, is one way to welcome them. Then, we may embrace them for the crucial role they play in making us vulnerably human. As the thinking, feeling, heart-throbbing spirits that we are.
Think about the term “falling prey” to emotions. It implies an attack that must be avoided in our attempt to be free. While actually, the avoidance lands us in conflict, distress and disease. When we meet emotions and everything that they make us feel, without resistance, there is an opportunity to grow. There is an opportunity to move through, rather than bypass the full gamut of the experience.
This might just be the single thing that differentiates feeling feelings rather than suffering them. Or as N wisely said to me last week: “being kidnapped by feelings.”
What thoughts have been keeping you up at night lately? They might carry clues about the emotions you are fighting, that are asking to be let in? What can you do to welcome them in the days to come?
PS: quite uncannily connected to my process and thoughts around befriending tenderness, so I can feel feelings.