Why pushing away your uncomfortable emotions makes it worse ...Instead, try THIS.
There are times when taking a walk or watching a funny video doesn't completely shake the anxiety, the frustration, the sadness, the aggravation, or fill in the blank with an uncomfortable emotion.
"Why is this emotion still here? How do I get rid of it? Where did it come from?", are all common questions probably most of us have had. The first thing a lot of us will try to do is to get rid of it or push it away. But, have you noticed the more you push something away, the more it stays or even comes back with a vengeance? What can be done to stop this cycle of suffering?
First, it's important for us to recognize that the emotions we experience are not us, rather, they are messengers. This perspective allows us to detach from the emotion in a way where it doesn't become our identity. Imagine you are creating space between you and the emotion, so there is you and then there is the emotion, like a guest in your house. If emotions are messengers, the next step is to uncover what their message is.
Let's pretend that the emotion is a guest that has come to visit you with an important message. Like any good host/hostess we welcome them in and invite them to have a seat. Then, we offer them something to drink (tea or coffee seems safe, since we don't know how our guest can handle their liquor:). Next, we ask them how they're doing, and we LISTEN. Their answer may not come right away or be super clear right off the bat, but what we are doing is letting them have a voice and be seen. That's really what emotions want, to be seen and heard. Try to listen with compassion and non-judgement. Sometimes it can be helpful to write out the information you receive or to talk to someone.
Here's a step by step to help identify why the emotion has come to visit you:
1. Pause and take 3 slow full breaths. Experience yourself.
2. Identify the emotion. Try this phrase to make space between you and your emotion: "There is_________here" (fill in the blank with the emotion, ie; "There is anxiety here" vs. "I'm anxious").
3. Identity where you feel it in your body if you can, if not that's fine.
4. Ask the emotion (your guest) why it's come to visit you? What would they like to tell you?
5. Be still and listen with your full body and mind.
If you aren't getting an answer right away, know at least the emotion has been acknowledged, and this is a huge step to getting to the message. Go on with your day, you never know when the answer will come to your, or maybe the emotion just wanted acknowledgement and once received it will leave. This step by step is a great start. Sometimes talking to a friend or a professional practitioner can be very helpful or journaling about what you are experiencing.
Be gentle with yourself, come from a place of compassion. Emotions and thoughts are constantly coming and going through all of us. We can make enemies with them, or allies. By making allies with emotions they can give us important information to help us to grow, heal, and live a happier life.