Witness And Detach From Negative Emotions
“The more capacity one has for an experience, the more tolerable the experience is, and the easier it is to remain a witness to it in a steady manner.” — Raja Selvam
I want to ask you a question, so simple that you may have overlooked asking it yourself: How do you experience negative emotions? Do you get curious about them? Do you make time to sit and process the emotions? Or do you distract yourself with activities such as scrolling through social media, socializing, binge watching TV shows, etc.?
Now, you might think: Who wants to process negative emotions? After all, you’re likely to experience many of them throughout the day, and it’s a waste of time to process them. I completely understand your concern; however, if you don’t make the time to make peace with your negative emotions, you are rejecting yourself. Allow me to expand on this further. Until you develop the wisdom to process your difficult emotions, your life will be fuelled by the suppression of negative energies within you. For example, when a negative experience or person inflames the suppressed feelings, you believe they are the source of your pain, when in fact they are the trigger for the pain. Expressed differently, the pain is already present within you, but the energy devoted to suppressing it leads to reexperiencing the negative emotions.
It requires becoming a witness to your emotional experience without becoming entangled in the emotions. I realize this is easier said than done because negative emotions are real and to separate yourself from them requires practice and patience. But each time you witness your negative emotions and detach from them, you lessen the discharge of negative energy stored in your subconscious mind. In effect, you are dissipating the negativity, so when a similar experience occurs, your reaction is likely to be less inflamed. Does this make sense? Can you see that becoming an observer of your emotions allows you to create a space around them? It is this act of witnessing that allows awareness to do the heavy lifting, instead of the egoic self, which forms a judgment around the negative emotion.
Acceptance Of Negative Feelings
“The remnants of pain left behind by every strong negative emotion that is not fully faced, accepted, and then let go of join together to form an energy field that lives in the very cells of your body.” — Eckhart Tolle
To put this another way: the tendency to reject yourself arises from disapproving of your negative feelings. And you are not entirely responsible for feeling this way because your primary caregivers and society inform you, it is wrong to experience anger, shame and guilt. So, you suppress these feelings, but the suppression of any negative feeling is an act of rejection of oneself. This is because the wholeness of your true nature means being comfortable with your shadow self. Namely, you accept your negative emotions and integrate them into the wholeness of your being. It is integration, not separation, that leads to wholeness. Therefore, you accept all that is because pure awareness does not judge or limit itself to only positive feelings. Mother nature has given us negative feelings for a reason. If you believe there are no accidents within this purposeful universe, it must follow that your negative feelings serve a purpose.
In other words, your positive and negative feelings are an integral part of who you are. You create separation by identifying with positive feelings and excluding negative emotions because you are judging aspects of yourself. I’m not inviting you to love your negative feelings but asking you to accept them as they arise. Remember, acceptance does not mean liking what you experience. It means dropping your resistance to what is taking place. Acceptance means negative emotions such as anger, shame, or guilt can be useful in helping you discover aspects about your true self. For example, anger can help you set boundaries on what you’re willing to accept. Shame and guilt open the door to self-love and self-acceptance because they invite you to heal and transform your past you may have misidentified with.
I hope you get the sense that acceptance, not rejection of one’s negative feelings, leads to transformation and healing. So, I ask you: Could you give yourself the gift of accepting your negative emotions instead of pushing them away? Even if it means processing them a little each time, it will go a long way in helping you to heal from negativity. You see, rejection of oneself is deeply rooted in the subconscious mind, and the more energy awarded to it can lead to a sense of hopelessness, uncertainty, and even depression. Therefore, when you distract yourself from dealing with negative emotions, you signal to your subconscious mind it is wrong to feel this way. So, the energy of rejection is kept alive throughout your Mind-Body experience.
Process Your Negative Emotions
“The way to change our bodies is to change our thoughts and feelings. We must let go of negative thoughts and belief systems and shed the stress of negative emotions that give them energy.” — David R. Hawkins
So how can you transform your negative emotions without suppressing them? As I’ve explained earlier, it requires creating time in your busy schedule to sit with your emotions and process them. There are many books that explain how to process negative emotions. One I have found useful over the years and recommend to coaching clients is titled Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender by the late Dr David R. Hawkins. In the book, Dr Hawkins explains how to process negative emotions by making it a regular practice. The benefits of this practice include emotional freedom, transforming pain and suffering, healing of physiological symptoms, and reduction in stress, to name a few.
The underlying principle in processing negative emotions is to allow the emotion to complete its natural cycle. If you suppressed it when you first experienced it, it is bound to stay active in your mind and body system. Sometimes, it can lead to physiological dysfunction and may cause illness or disease. For instance, the neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor suggests it takes 2 ½ minutes for an emotion to move through your nervous system. So, if the emotion remains stuck and not allowed expression, the energy of repressing it may cause stress in your mind and body.
Considering this, I invite you to write a list of the negative emotions you experience often. Is it fear, anger, shame, guilt, or other emotions? Write each emotion on the left-hand side and see if you can work through what the emotion is inviting you to learn about yourself. Is it patience, kindness, setting boundaries, compassion, or something else? Once you have completed this exercise, carve out time throughout the week to sit with these negative feelings and process them thoughtfully. Feel them through your body because each time you do, you are releasing a layer of negative conditioning from your mind and body. Ultimately, when you reject or make wrong your negative feelings, you are rejecting yourself. This is something you have the power to shift by greeting your negative emotions with openness, self-compassion, and curiosity.