Something triggers you, or becomes too much to bear, and you curl up like a fist, ready to strike or simply stay in the dark for a while.
We all end up there on occasion, no matter how much we focus on generating kindness and peace. Being human means you are bound to experience a whole range of emotions — none of us is immune to an unexpected trip down the rabbit hole!
When you find yourself in this place, the thing it’s often hardest to feel is that you will ever get out. Even if you know intellectually that things will eventually change, in the moment, you just feel lousy.
Allow Yourself To Feel Exactly How You Feel
The first step is not to fight the fact that you’re feeling closed. Especially as someone who sees life from a spiritual perspective, the rough emotions of anger, jealousy, fear, grief and yes, even hatred, are often seen as things to push away or deny.
It seems natural to be inclined to grasp at so-called positive emotions and eliminate so-called negative ones. But allowing ourselves to feel and acknowledge whatever we are truly feeling naturally generates positivity and self-compassion — as opposed to wallowing, where we stay stuck and fume and fester about what someone did to us and why life is so unfair.
The truly kind, compassionate approach is to acknowledge and accept these uncomfortable feelings so that they don’t stay stuck and locked inside. Just as a dam blocks water from flowing freely, trying not to feel what you actually feel keeps those emotions from flowing through you. They get stuck in the dark and damp corners, where they’re more likely to fester and grow moldy around the edges.
The Kindness You Need To Offer is To Yourself
Here’s my strategy for beginning to regroup when I’m bombarded with difficult thoughts and emotions:
- Take a moment to acknowledge that I’ve gotten triggered and am pissed, scared, anxious, etc.
- Place a hand on my heart, breathe into that space, and say something soothing like “It’s OK sweetheart, you’re just ________ right now.”
- Remember that I don’t need to act on how I’m feeling in this moment, I simply need to allow the truth that the feeling exists.
- Find one good thing I can reflect on — something I am grateful for, however small, or something positive I know to be true about myself or the person who has triggered the upset.
Once I’ve done this, however many times I need to repeat it until I can feel some compassion, then I see what specific strategy might help me shift away from the discomfort. It might be a meditation on lovingkindness, Byron Katie’s inquiry work, or reaching out to a trusted friend to talk things through.
Begin by offering yourself the love and acceptance your deserve. Remember that being on a spiritual path doesn’t mean getting to a point where you won’t experience difficult emotions — it means you feel everything and love yourself anyway.
Got strategies that work well for you? Please share with us below!