The passage through emotions

I have reflected often here about dealing with my emotions, particularly those that I find difficult. I’ve talked about trying to learn to welcome them all, about trying to deal with the stories that often lie behind them, about not fighting with them to try to make them go away faster. Yet I still find myself struggling to find a clear plan of action for dealing with them.

I recently came across a post on Elephant Journal by Yogi Michael Boyle called 5 Steps to Dealing with Loneliness & Emotional Pain that is helping me solidify this in my mind. While he specifically talks about dealing with loneliness in his 5 steps, I think it can be easily generalized to any other emotion that we are struggling with.

His steps, in a generalized way, boil down to the following:

  1. Feel the emotion—fully, completely, entirely feel it.
  2. Acknowledge that the emotion is a natural response and not a problem to be fixed. It just is.
  3. Let go of whatever story you are attaching to why you are feeling that emotion.
  4. While continuing to feel the emotion, let go of not only the story about why you are feeling that emotion but even the very story that you are feeling it.
  5. Let go of all labels of the emotion and feel the emotion so deeply and so completely that you let go of even the distinction between yourself and the emotion. Just be with it.

It is only when we honestly work through these steps that the emotion can fade away. The only things that keep it in place are the stories we attach to the emotions or our refusal to acknowledge and experience them. When we can fully drop the stories and allow ourselves to feel whatever the emotion is with full presence, then it is free to move on.

This process of dealing with emotions is a very yoga-like way of thinking and of being. While it does not sound like an easy thing to do, it does sound a good deal less exhausting than the usual hamster wheel I put myself on now when I encounter difficult emotions. My current approach isn’t working so well anyway.

I think this process sounds like something I want to sit with for a while to give it a good, honest chance because I strongly suspect that this is going to make a world of difference in my emotional life over time.

It gives me a map to pass through the storms of emotion without getting stuck there and without trying to fight to avoid what is unavoidable. I can learn to just sit and wait it out, and in so doing, pass through the eye of the storm unfazed.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

A Note on Comments: A chrysalis is by nature a very fragile place, and it takes a good deal of vulnerability to share this personal journey of transformation so openly. Therefore, I need this to be a safe place for exploration and sharing for me and for my readers. Comments sharing your own journey, even if your experience is different from mine, are always welcome and encouraged. Expressions of support or encouragement are also welcome. Comments that criticize, disparage, correct, or in any way attempt to undermine the validity of another person’s experience or personal insight—or the expression of that experience or insight—are NOT welcome here and will be deleted.