When emotions hit us, they throw us completely off-guard. In many respects, BIG emotions can even feel disabling. We are thrown into the storm of our thoughts, believing every single thing our mind tells us – that we’re unworthy, that it’s never going to change and that WE are sadness itself. Then, some time passes and we create a little opening and room to breathe. It softens just a bit. We recognize that instead of believing that we are sad, anxious and overwhelmed, these are emotions which we feel and which come and go. They are passing states, just like the weather.
At the risk of oversimplifying emotion, I believe that it’s so important that we come to see it for what it really and truly is.
The way in which we experience our emotions are ALWAYS valid.
Your sadness is valid.
Your anxiety is valid.
Your anger is valid.
Your pain is valid.
Now, what isn’t always 100% accurate, is the way in which we interpret these emotions. Perspective is everything. If we look at the weather for example, the rains don’t cause us much angst. Why is this? It’s because we intimately understand both its necessity and its transience. We recognize that we may have faced a season of heat, that we’re transitioning into spring and that the earth needs to quench her thirst. However, when we cling to the rain, it feels much longer, stirs up more doubt within and causes us much unnecessary pain and suffering.
Taking a step back from our emotions is an absolutely crucial skill in emotional regulation. It means that we are willing to see what we are subjectively feeling, with an objective eye. We are willing to polish the lens through which we are currently viewing emotion through and not take it at face value.
The other day, I was driving and witnessed a multitude of different visibilities – the sky was tinged with so many different hues of blue, colored by darkness, light and many different cloud shapes, all with a peek of the sun in the corner. It was a magnificent sight and I said to my youngest son, “Look at the dark clouds coming in!” And he said, “but look at the son peeking through!” and i thought Wow! Our perspective and what we focus on changes everything. Just like our various emotions, so do the clouds cover the sky of our minds. On some days, it is clear with not a single cloud in sight and the birds of being pass through it effortlessly. On other days, the rains are necessary to wash off the debris and the clouds feel heavy and dense. When it releases the weight of what it has been holding, the sun slowly starts to emerge again and reminds us that she has never truly left us to begin with. She has always been there, waiting for the rains to pass.
I know that for many of us, the question of ‘how do I attain peace and joy?’ has been quite a prominent theme in our lives. However, when we consider our emotional landscape like the sky, we learn that just like the sun never leaves, so do we still possess peace and joy within us. It may not always be immediately accessible to us, especially when we are in inner turmoil but it’s always there regardless. This helps soften the blow of the heavy storms of self-doubt, anger and anxiety when it hits.
When we remind ourselves of this, we find ourselves in the soft and calm eye of the storm, where everything seems to circle around us, but we are able to remain grounded and rooted, remembering that our sun will soon shine herself on our pain again.
What grounds and roots you, when you are in the midst of an inner storm?
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