“When awareness is brought to an emotion, power is brought to your life.”
– Tara Meyer Robson
As I’ve wrote about before, part of what makes us human is the ability to feel a spectrum of emotions. They are what gives our lives color, meaning, and depth. Our ability to feel deeply is what allows us to pursue passions, connect with others, and experience a full life.
Too often do we run away from and avoid the “tough” ones. And what happens when we do is they end up wreaking havoc on our wellbeing and within our lives. When we ignore our emotions, we’re ignoring vital information that our body, mind, and spirit is trying to show us. We’re disrespecting ourselves by telling our needs to “take a hike.”
It can be confusing at first when we begin to embrace them and attempt to see them for what they are.
A gift. A catalyst. A stepping stone for growth.
We find ourselves being able to sit with them, but still having trouble moving forward and out of them. Especially emotions like anger, sadness, and anxiety.
I’d like to share with you a technique that has helped me time and time again.
It entails personifying our emotions.
The reason this is so transformational is because it allows us to get out of the emotion for a moment and see it from a third point of view. We turn the emotion into it’s own image and speak with it directly to gain more clarity surrounding it’s need to be there. It’s no longer sitting within our body with all of it’s various sensations which undoubtedly distracts us in their own ways. It allows us to communicate with it in order to move forward with a purpose in mind. Personifying and speaking with them also gives us the opportunity to strengthen our emotional intelligence and intuitive abilities.
So, how do we begin to do so?
First, I want to be sure that I stress the importance of feeling them fully first. It’s imperative that we allow ourselves and our emotions the space to run their course. I’ve mentioned not analyzing them too much, but this is a bit different.
This technique is best done once we’ve done all we can to feel the emotion fully and we’re still finding ourselves “stuck” within it.
- Personify it. Choose an image that best represents the emotion. However that shows up for you is perfect. Sometimes mine are animals, other times they’re images of myself. Whatever works for you.
- Ask the question. Whether it’s anger, sadness, worry, anxiety – ask what it’s trying to tell you. It could be something like, “What is your message?” or “Why are you here?” Another way to ask is be specific. If it’s anxiety – “What am I scared of?” or if it’s sadness, “What have I lost?”
- Listen for the answer. A large part of this technique is working with your intuition. After you ask the question, pay attention to the words and phrases that pop up in your mind. This is where the answer lies. For example, if I’m finding myself feeling angry, I ask what it’s there for. The answer may show up as “boundaries” or “I expected more.” It changes depending on the situation, but I always receive a reply.
- Move forward. Once you receive your answer, show yourself some compassion. Allow yourself some room to feel and be supportive of your feelings. No feelings are bad. They are there to show us the way. Then, figure out how you want to proceed. If you’re angry that your boundaries were crossed, become clear about what those boundaries are and then calmly let the person know so that they aren’t crossed again. If you’re anxious about missing your flight, get all your ducks in a row so that you’re prepared and ready to get there on time. If there’s nothing you can do, especially with sadness surrounding a lost loved one, find ways to cope. This may mean journaling, finding a creative outlet, meditation, reaching out to loved ones, exercise, or therapy.
Connecting to and embracing our emotions isn’t always easy. It takes practice, self-awareness, and self-compassion. But – when we finally do start practicing this, we start to realize what a gift we’re giving to both ourselves and to others. By honoring our hearts, we hear our truth. And we begin to hold space for others to do as well.
I used to be a textbook emotional ignorer. I would repress everything, even happiness, so as to not “feel too much.” Once I realized how life-changing both feeling my emotions fully and understanding what they were there for, I never looked back. I realized that without acknowledging them and seeing their message, I was always going to be stuck.
In the same place. In the same state of mind. In the same level of being.
I wanted to grow.
And growing comes from looking face to face with our emotions.