Handling Powerful Emotions
During our day to day life we may experience emotional crises or feelings of intense emotional distress. These extreme feelings can occur as random occurrences or during a prolonged period of stress, for example during divorce, illness, job loss or a major life change. During these difficult times, we can experience intense and often overwhelming emotions of anger, sadness, guilt, fear or grief. How we handle these experiences are paramount to our current and long-term health and well-being. For so many of us the urge, or itch, to escape is strong. We may seek solace in a glass of wine, chocolate, shopping spree or some other form of behaviour, that may lead us to using that form of solace as a crutch on a longer-term basis, and of course all sorts of problems can arise from this.
However giving ourselves permission to have time to rest and recover during these times is important. Switching off and not pushing ourselves and focusing on what is going on internally, rather than the thoughts going through our mind is really key. When we try and push back the feelings, ignore them or numb out, eventually the feelings resurface in another way. When we allow ourselves to have the feelings, and we allow ourselves to really drop down into them, rather than resisting them, we find that by really being with the feeling and surrendering to it, something shifts within us and we feel more comfortable in letting the feeling be. It is the resistance to the feeling, because we just want to snap out of it, or feel better, or feel happy, instead of feeling what we are feeling, that causes us more problems. When we give up trying to feel better, trying to push the horrible feeling away, and we are in that moment of surrender, the feeling will shift slightly to the next feeling, and the next. Feelings that are not resisted will disappear as the energy behind these feelings starts to dissolve.
David Hawkins teaches us that grief is time limited and this fact can give us the courage to face our grief head on. He says if we don’t resist the feelings of grief and totally surrender to it, it will run out in 10 – 20 minutes. Therefore, if we keep surrendering every time the grief comes up, then it will eventually run out and so we actually only need to tolerate the actual overwhelming powerful feeling of grief for 10-20 minutes, then all of a sudden it will lift. I am sure we all have experienced this when we have had a really good cry and feel a little lighter afterwards, once the tears have stopped flowing. However, if we don’t surrender to it, it can keep persisting and the feeling will go on and on and come out in other ways. Suppressed emotions can affect us and go on for years. Sometimes when a situation is so intense, we have to let go of the aspects of the situation bit by bit, rather than let the situation go in one big go. Then smaller pieces of the emotions can be handled as they arise and the intensity of the situation will have passed in a much more conscious and healthy way.
Overwhelm and crisis can really stop us in our tracks, and destroy our mental and physical health, if we let it. But allowing ourselves 20 minutes of having a really good cry, or having 20 minutes to vent, rant, or do something, in a mindful way, can help change us on the inside and something then lifts.
How much time do you give yourself to recover from an emotional crisis? Sometimes that tub of ice-cream comes out and we can sit wallowing in our self-pity, or our anger for days, and the ice cream along side it. What if we gave ourselves a time frame? What if we allowed ourselves to cry, vent and rant for 30 minutes, or a whole day if needed, with the unconditional promise to ourselves that once the time frame is up, we will give ourselves the permission to move forward with our life and change our focus and our perspective.