Suppressing emotions: why it’s time to let them go

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Suppressing emotions: why it's time to let them go

This article explains why we can get stuck in emotions and how we can learn to let go.

Suppress emotions

Feelings and emotions are fine on their own. They are accompanying phenomena in life that give it color and relief. They go through you. Emotions only become a problem if they are not allowed to be there, or if they are allowed to be too many: if we suppress them or if we get stuck in them. In both cases, we identified with it.

It seems strange that you identify with something that is oppressing you, something that you want to get rid of. But the joke is that in order to get rid of it, you first value it and make it a reality. Because why would you repress something you consider unreal? It has become all too real for you. And that happens in the same flash as you try to banish the emotions to the unconscious.

They don’t leave you afterward, they just continue to grow in the basement of your consciousness, only to suddenly appear at all sorts of unwelcome moments and rudely disrupt a peaceful situation. That is why we often find emotions ‘disgusting and annoying’ and we would like to get rid of them. They are so unpredictable. But essentially they are neutral and flow through you like a stream of energy.

Suppressing emotions: why it's time to let them go

The second pitfall is to dwell on emotions, to cherish them, to wallow in them. They have then become very decisive for you and thus form a part of your identity. It seems like you can no longer face any situation without your emotions. There is always an emotional response first that tells you how to view the situation. And that reaction then determines your decisions. You seem to have become dependent on your emotions. The ego has made a drama out of it.

The remedy is: to do basement work

Unprocessed emotions become stories in the mind. The ego builds a story around it to show how it came to be, and especially who or what is to blame. Then the story goes into the unconscious for later ‘use’. Thanks to the story, the emotion can be recycled over and over again in your system and even projected onto all kinds of new situations. So long, until it seems to have become a part of you and you know no better than that this is who you ‘just are’ in such a situation. For example, unprocessed old can stand in the way of gaining insight into who you really are, the Self.

The remedy is: do basement work. That means: those hidden emotions can still be felt. Descend into that inner cellar, don’t be afraid that a dragon would live there. Go inside and look at them. In doing so, they can be felt and seen through, and leave your home. Even though they seem very old and painful, they must be felt in order to leave your system. Not feeling is holding. But you don’t have to act them out dramatically and relive the old situation violently.

Suppressing emotions: why it's time to let them go

It works much more subtly and softly: there are tears, there may be anger, and what wants to come up is felt and perceived. They have now been given air, they have been brought to light. That is usually sufficient. The identification is released, and then it disappears on its own. People then tell that they can no longer find the story in themselves. It just isn’t there anymore. And then someone finds out afterward that his story was indeed fiction and never possessed any reality.

Stories

Emotions need stories to survive. So even if emotions come up in current events, you can see that you first made a story about the current situation, probably based on your old pain stories. The ego keeps offering it to you: you’ve been rejected, you’re not allowed to be there, you’re pathetic, you’re a failure, nobody loves you, and so on. But that still doesn’t make it true. It requires clarity to see through and reject the ego’s offer.

That insight often only emerges afterward, when you discover that you have stepped back into it, but that too is a win. Your brightness expands afterward, you see it already during the situation, but are not yet able to stop the ego story. In the end, you see it coming ahead of time and say ‘no thank you ego’. You feel what there is to feel, but you don’t go along with it.

For example, you are suddenly very afraid that your girlfriend will run off with someone else at a party. The fear is not based on anything, you know that somewhere, but it is no less intense. You realize that the story the ego is telling you here is not true, yet you feel the emotions of fear, jealousy, and rejection going through you.

Before you’d tuck the case away, get a pounding headache later, and it would have made the separation between you and her bigger. Now you decide to discuss it with your girlfriend. You literally bring it to light. And you have the clarity to say right away that it’s your story and it’s not true. In this way, she remains free and she can also tell her story and you come closer to each other.

Sharing your story takes the load off and ensures that it is no longer a secret that you carry with you on your own. The balloon deflates. So it is essential to recognize that facts are neutral, that our emotional response to them arises from a story that we put on top of them, and that, moreover, is not true.

Difference Between Emotions and Feelings

Is there a difference between emotions and feelings? Yes, if you would like to distinguish them. Then you could say that emotions belong to the level of the ego and are usually quite intense: fear, anger, guilt, hatred, blame, jealousy, and irritation. Feelings are softer and quieter, more subdued, although they can be powerful, and usually come from a deeper level: joy, peace, love, happiness, and emotion.

Suppressing emotions: why it's time to let them go

So it can be traced back to the one fundamental choice we always have, the one between fear and love. You could say that they are basically neutral energies moving through you, but your reaction to them makes sure whether they end up in the domain of the ego or not. Suppressing, dismissing, and repressing on the one hand, and increasing and acting out on the other, are all ego ways of dealing with these inner movements. Acceptance, feeling through it calmly, and possibly expressing it in a safe environment, are ways of dealing with love.

Present

Being with your emotions, expressing them, and not coincident with them, that’s the way. When someone close to you has died, it is completely natural and normal to feel your pain and sadness and to cry. Don’t say too quickly, because you think this is very spiritual, ‘I’m already over it’, ‘I’ve already processed it. Cry. Act normal and be comforted, which is also a gift to another. Feeling what there is to feel has its own form of beauty and purity.

In principle, it does not matter how strong the trigger for the emotion was and how often that emotion returns. In fact, “overcome with grief” expresses that you have come to see the individual emotional waves as one tidal wave. But in every moment of now, there is always the energy that you can allow to flow through you as it arises, and that you can perceive as impersonal. And when the wave is gone, the water always becomes still. Observe that silence, don’t knit the separate waves together right away.

This approach can help you avoid identifying yourself with emotions. You can say that you can have emotions, but you are never your emotions. You then become more and more the silent observer, who simply examines what is going on inside you. You are free and you let those emotions move freely.

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