Our emotions play a major part in our daily lives. They can be sources of suffering, as well as happiness and empowerment. This short article challenges 5 common myths we hold about emotions and shows you how to use your emotions as doorways to awareness and empowerment.
First myth: Allowing for my emotions creates suffering
It is just the other way round: trying to escape from emotions that feel uncomfortable to us is what creates suffering in the long run. It is impossible to suffer without judging our experience. If we feel anger, fear or sadness and judge these emotions as bad and unwanted, what we do is trying to cut ourselves off from the part of us that feels them. Every emotion is a messenger and numbing ourselves to the message it carries with it means to run away from life instead of dealing with it. We create disharmony within ourselves. And the less we are willing to deal with and experience what we feel, the greater our state of disharmony and suffering will be. Finally, we end up making a mountain out of a molehill: emotions are nothing but energy running through us. What creates suffering is not the emotion itself, but our way of running away from it.
Second myth: Emotions define me as a person
Whenever we feel anger or sadness, we tend to consider ourselves an angry or a sad person. We tend to make what we feel part of our identity and often we take it as a reason to beat ourselves up, as we would rather be a happy person instead of a sad one. But your emotions do not define you. They are simply part of your experience. All they´re there for is to make you aware of parts of yourself that want nothing more than to be seen, loved and accepted for what they are. When you can feel your anger without assigning a meaning to it, such as being right with respect to someone else, you will feel immense relief. Your anger is given space to flow and dissolve as naturally as rivers wash into the sea.
Third myth: Vulnerability is a sign of weakness
Being vulnerable is a sign of strength and courage. If you can fully open up to what you feel, no matter how uncomfortable and painful it may be, you´re coming from a place of love instead of fear. You reside in the knowingness, deep within your being, that nothing you experience could diminish or lessen you in any way whatsoever. Bowing to fear, shame and guilt for parts of us we consider not acceptable, means our willingness to conform is greater than our trust in the truth of our being. No pain and no suffering within you can persist if you simply open up to it, accept it and see it for what it truly is: nothing but energies that have been suppressed within you through fear and judgment and that demand your attention, awareness and love.
Fourth myth: Other people are responsible for what I feel
This statement expresses one of the basic building blocks of victim consciousness. Other people never are the reason for what you feel and experience. As much as your true source for love and appreciation cannot be found in other people but only in yourself, other people do not have the power to make you suffer as only you have power over your state of being. However, you can give this power away to others. As an example, if what someone says to you makes you feel sad and hurt, your choice is to either make it about the other person and blame her for how she makes you feel; or to simply open up to what you feel and what your emotions are telling you. Every painful emotion comes from parts of you that feel neglected and unwanted. By blaming other people for your pain, you forfeit your personal power and create new sources of suffering. By opening up to it and welcoming it with love, you are allowing it the space to melt down and dissolve.
Fifth myth: Intense emotions are dangerous
To be at peace with what you are feeling does not mean to always feel stillness and calm. Our emotions are very much like water. Sometimes it feels like emotions run through us like a wild, raging river, sometimes they are more like a lake in the mountains.
Being at peace with what you feel simply means being OK with whatever form and intensity your emotions may take at that moment. If you´re feeling intense emotion but are in a place of resistance, you´ll feel a lot of pain. However, it´s not the pain or the emotion itself that is causing your suffering, but your focus on resistance. Instead of trying to shut down from feeling, simply shift your focus from resistance to allowing and watch what happens within you.