During private sessions with my clients, we've been having great outcomes working with challenging emotions. The results are transformational and freeing so I thought I'd write about it.
How can a negative emotion lead to something positive?
It's so easy for me to get caught up and completely carried away with my emotions. This is my automatic reaction, a pattern that has been with me for decades. I've seen time and time again that when I look for an exit or a way to numb the discomfort this just leads to more pain and suffering. Not surprising Pema Chodron refers to working with emotions as 'accelerated transformation' if we can just let the emotion pass through like clouds in the sky.
Here's the key:
There's a split second (a doorway) when an emotion arises when I can choose to be present and decide how I'm going to react; act out or be mindful. Spending a few seconds accessing the 'doorway' is a radical action and breaks the habitual pattern of getting swept away.
Generally I identify the emotion as bad and relating to 'Me' (which is one of my favorite subjects! Are you like that too?) This personalization fuels the cycle and makes it easy to become a victim and label the feeling “wrong” and attach stories relating to “should’ and “shouldn’t”.
Once I let go of the story and the labels, I'm left with just the energy sensation in my body. When I zoom in on the physical sensation, sometimes I can feel the spaciousness around the emotion and can easily accept it. Once I accept, I don't act out and I remain peaceful. People around me love this :)
Next time an unpleasant emotion comes up, instead of chasing someone to their wits end in a fit of road rage or telling someone what they can do with themselves, try this instead:
1. Notice: Observe when you’re triggered. Acknowledge the unpleasant emotion has arisen. Acknowledge the story you're telling yourself to justify the emotion.
2. Pause: Become intimate and curious.
3. Lean in:
How does the emotion feel in your body? Can you sense the texture of the feeling? What is the temperature, color, sensation or location in your body?
4. Let go:
Experience the energy and allow the emotion to move through the body. Bringing your attention back to the sensation over and over again. It will soon disappear.
Doing this type of meditation has given me insight into why I do the things I do, and why other people do the things they do. I'm only human though and sometimes I still get caught up in the heat of a negative emotion but at least I'm beginning to see my patterns, my ways of thinking and being.
My clients are noticing changes in how they react to negative feelings and they say their families, partners, co-workers and co-drivers with whom they share the road are grateful :)
How do you deal with negative emotions? Are you open to trying something new?