My last post discussion was about how we are not our thoughts. Today I will be discussing our emotions. What are emotions and where do they come from?
I really starting looking into this question when I realized that despite how good my life seemed to be, I still felt bad inside. I didn’t know why I would feel bad because nothing “externally” seemed to be causing me to feel the “mucks”. (In modern lingo…I still had “issues”).
Therapists couldn’t seem to answer my question when I asked them why I felt bad when everything seemed to be going well. The only answer I received was that I must be clinically depressed. It was suggested that maybe my sadness was “seasonal”, but upon further observation, I realized that my sadness didn’t seem to increase around certain time frames…or even certain events. What was triggering the mucks within me? The other explanation was that I had a “chemical imbalance”. I used to like this explanation better because then I knew that I could take some pills to change the whacked chemistry within my brain…but what was causing this imbalance? In the process of trying to find my answer, I’d say that one of the hardest things I had to do was to “sit” with the bad emotions…sadness, fear and all. For so many years, I had become accustomed to fighting the emotions or trying desperately to distract myself somehow. Or force myself to feel something else. I decided to try and sit with my feelings without judging them…to “observe” what I was feeling. This was difficult at first because our analytical brain wants to figure it out and I found that I just couldn’t… There was no way out as far as I could see. That in itself became another tremendous fear…to feel as if you are immersed in the sadness/fear and feel that there isn’t really anything you could do about it but to experience it. Initially, there was added sadness thinking that these emotions would resurface every now and again and there didn’t seem to be a way out except to accept them as a part of me. Then soon I started to look behind the emotion…what was the thought that was causing me to feel bad? Simple right? … no. If your “monkey chattering mind” is anything like my monkey mind, it takes a little bit of focus.
I began to see a pattern emerge. The bad feelings were usually a result of a negative thought I had about myself. It could be something as simple as telling myself that I was no good. Looking for the specific thought behind that negative emotion isn’t always that obvious. It takes some work to recognize it and there are questions we can ask ourselves while we are thought hunting…questions like, — when was the last time I felt this way? — when was the first time I felt this way?
In this process of remembering, we are trying to figure out the experience(s) that caused the thought and emotion. When we recognize the event, we realize then, that THAT particular event may have dictated our thoughts and emotions at one time…but they no longer need to be a part of our lives. When you’re doing the work of “undoing” the effects of trauma, it takes some time and when I realized just what I was dealing with, I was committed to letting go of the emotions that were preventing me from complete healing. An important lesson in this is to realize healing can be uncomfortable but it is a part of the process and accepting this is a huge step. It also helps to have someone you feel safe to talk to when you’re going through the mucks. My safety guy is my husband. He just sits and listens to me.
With my relentless search for self acceptance and love, I knew that I was not my feelings, or emotions…that these were just experiences that I was having based on events in my life. I had come to realize that I was so much deeper than my thoughts or emotions…
My inner awakening continues…