A few days ago I had an emotional breakdown. The nagging feeling inside just got stronger and stronger and my usual defense mechanisms stopped working. So I decided to get my sh*t together and work through it. Easier said than done. I told myself ” just get over it already and think positive “. But of course that didn’t work. I feel that in the spiritual world we often get too hard on ourselves when it comes to experiencing negative emotions and fear. We feel like we’re not really spiritual enough when negativity succeeds in getting us down.
But in my opinion, personal growth can only happen when we are gentle and honest with ourselves. Falling down is human. Losing control sometimes is okay. Don’t be too hard on yourself. In fact, truly experiencing negative emotions can be very beneficial for you spiritual growth/mental health, because it makes you stronger and helps releasing old blockages.
So here is the way I found most useful when it comes to dealing with negative emotions:
Feeling your way through the discomfort
In order to release emotions, they need to be felt. Completely, without thinking or judging. To suppress or act them out will only make them stronger and they will come back again stronger.
How to truly feel an emotion:
It is actually easier than it sounds. Let go of the story and the thoughts that you tell yourself by not labeling the emotion. Just concentrate on the bodily sensation. No words are needed. Scan your body and feel where the emotion causes you to tense or tighten your muscles. Does your chest feel heavy? Do your face muscles tense? For me personally, I feel fear mostly as a heavy sensation in my chest and a tingling in my arms. Just breath into the sensations and try to stay aware, not running away with your mind. Stay there till you feel how your body releases and the negative emotion loses its power. This can take time, so be gentle with yourself. If you feel overwhelmed by the practice release it and try again.
Don’t judge yourself if you don’t succeed in releasing the emotion. Even if you were just able to feel your darkness for a second, you will already get great benefits. It’s a learning process.
Don’t expect immediate relief, just stay present and curious about what comes up and see how the feelings change. Over time this practice will become easier and feel lighter, as you learn to stay present with your discomfort, without trying to get your “quick fix” (food,sex,television…). These defense mechanisms may give you short term relief but will only sow the seed for even worse feelings. So try to stick with it and find the courage to show up for yourself, even when it gets really uncomfortable. You can do it!
It may seem hard at first but I found that it is the only effective way to create lasting change and truly release emotions. And never forget you are not alone. Everyone experiences negative emotions and fear. So let’s get out of that together.
If you tried this method, does it work for you? Or do you have a different approach that works better for you?