Upset, angry, irritable, anxious, scared, worried, frustrated, stressed, sad? What is behind those emotions?
I grew up thinking that I had to keep my emotions inside and just deal with life as it was, no complaining and to just suck it up or walk it off. As you get older, when people ask ‘how are you?’ the normal response is good or fine. When we are angry or scared or worried, or feeling anything unpleasant, how many of us sit with this emotion, think about why we are feeling this way? Not many. Often we turn fear into anger, feeling overwhelmed into being irritable with people (think road rage, there are some pretty horrific videos out there of people just losing it over something simple). Are they really that mad that someone cut them off? or are they upset about something else and channeling their feelings into something tangible and in their control?
I have learned and am still learning that its o.k. to not be o.k.. To say I am sad or scared or overwhelmed. You don’t ‘live’ with these feelings, you acknowledge them, figure out what you are feeling, where they are coming from and if you can, make a small plan to work on it. Sometimes just acknowledge what it is you are truly feeling and than let it go and move on to something else. Painful in the beginning to sit and face emotions that are unpleasant oh ya, defiantly, however after you do, you will find your body relaxes a little bit more. That’s because the more you fight against the way you feel, run from how you feel, hide from it or with some people take it out on others, the worse you feel. So stop, think about what it is you are truly feeling, what is really bothering you and than…let it go. Meaning let the anger from it go and go do something else, the problem is not ‘fixed’ as we often want our problems to be, but rather your calmer and hopefully nicer to those around you because you have tuned into your body, acknowledged your emotion and let it go.
In Mindfulness Meditation -re: John Cabot- this process is called ‘the unwanted house guest’. Imagine a house guest over who will not leave. You finally get to the point of just ignoring the house guest, however they are still there on your couch, eating your food and watching your t.v. as you silently steam and get more and more angry.
Feelings are similar. We tend to bury our true feelings and the reasons behind them as we go through our busy lives. Is the person in the next car really driving you that crazy? Are your coworkers that lazy with a project on purpose? Is your husband really intentionally trying to drive you insane by leaving his dirty clothes everywhere? Maybe yes to some of these however, usually not always because the fact is most people are not doing things directly to you. The person in the car who just cut you off, is not thinking of you, they don’t even know you exist. So what is really driving you crazy? Yes the person in the car at the moment is, but what else? The unwanted houseguest is right there, tapping you on the shoulder and won’t go away not matter how angry you get at another driver, or slow cashier, you have to stop, acknowledge and move on.
To offer a small example; for myself in the afternoon I find I am a lot more irritable and every little thing bothers me when I am travelling home. From negative thinking about where I am, to the people around me, sometimes even to people just breathing (to loud, too weird, too annoying). I have actually been in yoga class and was so distracted and annoyed by someone else’s breathing that I almost left the class. It has taken me sometime to realize to stop and think ‘o.k. am I really that upset about the person beside me breathing? or what is underneath the emotion’ In the afternoon, for me it is being hungry and needing some quiet time for myself. Yes, I experience ‘hanger’. Thankfully once I realize that there is nothing really wrong, that other people are not doing things just to annoy me, I can calm down, head home and grab some food.
Sure the example I gave is an easier fix but remember with the unwanted house guest you are not looking to ‘fix’ anything. Just sit for a moment or pause for a moment, when you start getting really upset and think am I really this bothered in this moment or is there something else? Am I really cancelling the event because I am too tired or is it because I am feeling nervous about the event. Am I really this upset with my coworker or is it because I am scared about a sick relative or worried about one of my children.
The ‘unwanted house guest’ is not going away no matter how much you passively aggressively ignore it. Its better to check in with yourself, about how you feel acknowledge it and let it go, move onto something else. Even say out loud, ‘I’m sad because, or I’m angry because…’ and than let it go. Don’t live with the negative emotion, acknowledge, accept and let go. You’ll feel your body start to relax, emotions down a level and your body more intuned.
Let it hurt, breathe, let it go.