When our conditioning teaches us to consistently sidestep “difficult” emotions like anger, sadness, guilt, anxiety, shame, disappointment or anything else that is “unpalatable”, we lose the opportunity to learn early in life, what they can teach us.
These emotions may indeed be difficult, but they needn’t be destructive, or cause us to be unanchored. They can come and go. And they can be opportunities to grow.
Anger, for example, can fuel action, rather than cripple us. Guilt has the power to inspire endeavour, if we invite it. Fear can make us shrink and cower, or it can spur us to move in a different way.
With the right anchors, we can learn to process, rather than repress, emotions, and receive the hidden messages that move us to grow.
Welcoming difficult emotions like anger, fear, shame, guilt, sadness, disappointment, requires us to build anchors. In our beings and our lives. Anchors that can hold us and that we can hold on to, when difficult emotions come upon us. Think of these as all that is important and affirming in your life.
Whatever your anchor may be — an important relationship, a creative life, a robust meditation practice, prayer, grounding in domesticity, dedication to work that fulfils you — invest energy in building something that really drops roots in you and fills you up in a good way. Something that isn’t an escape, but a safe shore that will allow these emotions to come and go as they need to without causing too much havoc.
To know what your anchors are, you’ll have to get very good at knowing what is truly precious and life giving. What is potent and nourishing. And for this, you’ll also have to know the exact opposite — all that is depleting, toxic or unhealthy — and know when to step away from it. Identify all that enables distance from and repression of emotions rather than healthy engaging with emotions, and step away. Knowing what enriches you will require an all-round knowing of who you are — the dark and bright parts of you, the good and bad, the palatable and not-so-palatable sides alike.
One year ago: Move
Two years ago: After all is said and done, you’ll believe God is a woman
Four years ago: Ten reasons why I’ve taken to cycling