This being human is a guest house
every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
I spend many hours a day, many days a week doing something that most people don’t do. I hold the space for emotions to unfold. As I do this, I welcome emotions as gifts. Gifts which unravel a story revealing a window into the soul. I know that it is in this space magic happens. The magic is the emotional place where new learning can emerge. Without it, there is nothing but the story.
Along the way our world has begun to look at emotions as a liability. While I love positive psychology, I think if we too quickly dismiss our negative emotions, labeling them as “bad” and jumping to the positive before investigating, we miss out. All too often in our “one button touch”, quick fix society we expect solutions to every discomfort or problem. This reductionistic and mechanized way of being leaves us as individuals and as a society stressed and hurting. We don’t have to look too far to see the consequences of this way of being our world has adopted.
Some assume negative emotions to be a sign of weakness — something to purge or destroy asap. If they are a blemish indicating something is broken or wrong, we can only swallow deeply in order to be “strong”, put on a (; and push, push, push those emotions down and away….
hmmm…. How does that feel? Really feel….?
I find they have a way of creeping back up and hijacking us in the forms of depression, chronic pain, back aches, anger outbursts, fatigue, headaches, addictions, etc.
What if we took a closer look at our relationhsip with our emotions?
Perhaps we might look at the emotional realm as sacred. If you think about it, all learning occurs in the emotional world. Everything. Perhaps our anger, sadness, jealousy, other negative emotions are just our being’s reminder that there is a need in there somewhere that wants to be understood and acknowledged. Not acknowledged by merely acting-on our emotions (which may be helpful at times), but going in and listening, understanding — the way we would with a friend.
We often assume there is something externally conditioned about things in our lives which cause problems or create uncomfortable emotions. And yet in stepping back, we can see it is how we’re looking at something, our unique observer which informs our reality. Our emotions are a way in to better understand and take care of ourselves. By avoiding emotions and viewing them as “problems”, we really begin to have problems.
What if we greeted our emotions with warmth, receptivity and curiosity?
This process allows us to have a deeper, more intimate relationship with our self. As we become better attunded to “listen in” with love and compassion to our emotions, we become better equipped to take care of our self. Freedom is moving in to these feelings and acknowledging they are inside, not outside. This keeps us from endlessly looking for external solutions to our “problems” and blaming others. If we don’t listen in, we don’t know we have a need and we can’t take steps to make a request, an offer, say “No” or set a limit. In “listening in” our lens expands, allowing us to see different possibilities unfolding. This is the foundation for transformational learning.
*An added bonus — as we are learning to be more present with our self, we can embrace others’ emotional experiences to allow for true intimacy.