"Insert inspirational quote here:"
Hello, friend. Yes, oh yes, we live in a positivity culture, and thanks to the prolific modern scientific research in the arena of optimism, we are all pretty well aware of the benefits behind feeling good and always searching for the silver lining. And if you've been hiding out under a rock somewhere, don't worry, you can merely find another human who gets their inspirational quotes on an RSS feed like a steady IV of liquid cotton candy. Or visit my Instagram page. Shawn Achor, positivity expert, researcher and speaker, alone has written several books on the topic. Deepak Chopra and Oprah (did these two plan to have rhyming names?) have their meditation series based on tapping into relaxation and positive feelings. Mastin Kipp has hundreds of thousands of followers, positivity coaches and speakers like Dr. Wayne Dyer and Joel Osteen are widely renowned. Physiologically speaking the benefits are innumerable: better blood flow, weight loss, a sense of happiness and well being, a stronger immune system, clarity, focus, healthy relationships, better sex, increased productivity and creativity, all caused by an influx of endorphins, hormones and feel-good neurotransmitters like oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin. These are all responsible for health-benefiting and life-enhancing feelings. Yes, happy = good. We know, we know, we know.
So what about these other emotions? The not-so-feel-good emotions like shame, fear, depression, anxiety, guilt, sadness, grief and anger…? The emotions that never get invited to parties? The ones that stay chained to the radiator while you go out and dance? Socially and culturally, there’s a focus on positive emotions and an abandonment of the negative ones. Thankfully, there’s hope that this is changing, due to contributions from pop culture, like Disney’s Inside Out. Through a children’s animation, the film offers us a unique perspective on human emotions and how without sadness, there can be no happiness. Trust me, I get it; bad emotions just feel, well…icky. This is only human. So what do we do? Throw the negative emotions out with the stale Kung Pao chicken? Not so simple.
All of your emotions are important and feeling them is the very key to accessing all of those yummy emotions we chase after (and ushering in the positive things we want in our lives).
As adults we can often be made to feel that strength comes from smiling through the pain – but true strength can actually be found in the willingness to feel these moments of unhappiness, rather than give in to the temptation to avoid or numb one’s self to emotional discomfort. “So...how will feeling like crap help me to feel better?” you ask? Great question, clever reader.
Based on years of muscle testing and human energy labs, Dr. David Hawkins, Ph.D. and M.D., author of Letting Go: the Pathway to Surrender, among others, discovered a way to measure the frequency of emotions and created an emotional energy spectrum based on his findings. The frequency of shame resonates at a level of 20, while joy resonates at 540. In short, emotions that are low on the spectrum, like shame, create a very weak energy field within our bodies that actually causes weakness and fatigue. The opposite is true with those higher on the spectrum, they caused an increase in strength of the muscle being tested.
An aversion to so-called negative feelings causes behaviors of avoidance, distraction, repression, and numbness. However, when you avoid your emotions and don’t feel them, the energy does not go anywhere. It remains within your body. Over time, you develop a collection of these groups of emotions that reside in varying frequencies. This collection of emotions then makes up what your average frequency is. When an emotion is fully felt, the energy is able to run its course and disperse from the body. For example, when you have a good, long cry after an upset, you tend to feel much better, lighter even. This is catharsis, an energy release. When we avoid these negative feelings, we are in effect, negative feeling-hoarders. Imagine if you will, that your body is a house; then, think of all the thoughts, memories and feelings tied to theses emotions that you are holding onto as outdated objects. You’ve put them on high shelves, boxed them in the garage, hid them under the bed, stuffed them in closets – these places are now bursting at the seams and you have no room for the feelings you really want in your life. Who knows, there might be dead cats under there! (metaphorically speaking, of course...) The result is stress, constant anxiety, tightness in the throat, an uneasy stomach, a compulsion to drink to “take the edge off”, countless addictions or numbing your brain with hours of mindless television or binge eating. You work more than a gorilla hopped up on a box of caffeine pills and you "like it." You exercise like it's an Olympic sport, as if by collecting your sweat in jars will garner you a medal. You pick petty fights at home with your Labra-doodle; I'm joking here with you, but you get the point. These are the manifestations of avoidance.
Another way that these negative feelings are glossed over is by developing a spiritual practice. You mediate, you do yoga, you read books on positivity, you do the work, but if you are honest with yourself, you are still not happy. You Namaste you way past your feelings and create a happy, rainbow shell of glitter around your bad feelings. As Brené Brown, vulnerability researcher, teaches us, “You cannot selectively numb emotions.” This is why when you numb your pain, you also numb your joy - you end up living your life caught in between two lower frequency emotions, in a narrow emotional spectrum. For example, predominantly the highest frequency emotion a person may feel on the spectrum is frustration, while the lowest they may experience is shame.
Why is this? Why after all the avoidance or soul-searching does the unhappiness remain? Because you have not truly acknowledged it. Emotions are a part of our own survival system, it’s how we know whether or not we’ve been insulted or injured, whether we feel cared for or neglected, how we empower ourselves to take care of us. If you have not sat down with the intention to make time to feel your feelings, it’s a great way to make a new start for some big life changes.
It’s time to do some emotional house clearing by sitting down and facing them.
“This doesn’t sound like me at all, I feel my emotions.”
Do you? Are you sure about that? I don’t mean to insult you by asking this question. I don’t know you or where you are in your life or your state of affairs, but this feeling business can be quite tricky. I used to think that because I considered myself to be a person who was emotionally in touch with myself that I was feeling all of my feelings; this couldn’t have been further from the truth. Being an emotional person does not mean you feel your emotions. At some point, there is usually something that we push aside unconsciously and these things need to be cleaned up. I simply ask that you experiment and see what comes up for you; if you're willing, of course. There are always these little covert ones that sneak under the radar; reliably, something is ready to be cleared out.
1) To start, you are going to find a comfortable place to sit where you will not be disturbed.
I recommend sitting upright or in a comfy chair with your feet flat on the floor, since our main parasympathetic system flight or fight responses are to fall asleep, or hide.