That you are part of a greater whole is often forgotten when you allow yourself to be taken over by compelling thoughts and intense emotions. Then you limit your consciousness to the limits of your personality and you forget that you are more than that.
Of course you experience life as a human being with all your senses and you are gradually tried, tested and refined, but that does not mean that you are only what you experience in feelings and thoughts.
Emotions, feelings and thoughts
The word emotion comes from the Latin emovere , which means ‘to set in motion’. An emotion moves you through an experience. An emotion is a non-rational and an instinctive response to an outside event. For example, a startle response to danger with physical sensations such as a pounding heart, goosebumps and an increased adrenaline level. You have no influence on it, it happens to you, you react to it involuntarily physically.
We can see emotions as energy in motion, the emotion itself only lasts for a short time, maybe a few minutes at most. Emotions flow, they can flow in and out of your body, so they can arise, be experienced and flow away again.
If you hold the energy of an emotion in your mind or in your body, it will take on a life of its own there. For example, we will think about the emotion and create our own pictures and stories. The primary emotion then becomes secondary and you create your own drama. The original primary emotion is turned into a story with accompanying feelings.
For example, if you are touched by an unpleasant comment from someone else. You might start to sweat, your heart might be pounding harder, you might feel tears, you might get a little stomach ache. If the energy can flow, it can also go away. That won’t happen if you keep thinking about the incident, you consider how right or how unreasonable the comment was, you still get angry or even sadder and add all kinds of other experiences and thoughts.
Before you know it, the comment has turned into a bigger problem that keeps you awake or upset.
If you keep the story going long enough, the feelings can also become ideas. An idea is an image (or picture) we have of ourselves that makes us think we are that way.
Then the unpleasant comment in the example becomes a part of you, you also think that you are that way.
You are not your thoughts and feelings, you have them!
Emotions happen to you, they move you, they flow in and out of you. Feelings and thoughts, on the other hand, can be learned to manage.
It is often forgotten that we have feelings and thoughts and that we are not them . Almost everyone identifies with their thoughts or feelings at some point. We remain angry and sad about certain events or we get caught up in worrying thoughts. We also do that with pleasant emotions, by the way.
There is no point in suppressing feelings and thoughts. We can learn to let them exist and yet not be absorbed in them.
Exercise in releasing identification with feelings and thoughts
An exercise that I do quite often with people around this theme is the following.
Grab a pillow or ottoman and clamp it against you at chest or stomach height, holding it firmly. Stand with both feet (preferably without shoes) firmly on the ground. Feel your feet on the floor, feel the floor against the soles of your feet. Focus your attention on your abdominal breathing.
You then bring up your thought or feeling that you would like to get rid of and you realize that you have this thought or feeling and are not. As soon as you realize that, you have already made a tiny bit of space between you and the feeling/thought, because at least another perspective has now been added, namely a part of you that can see.
Imagine that your thought or feeling is like the pillow you have in your arms. You hold it tight, but you are not it. Feel how you have connected, perhaps even identified with this feeling or thought.
Now realize that what you hold on can also be put down. Then place the pillow on the floor in front of you and take a big step back. How does that feel? Do you feel more space created?
Take as many steps back as necessary to break free from the feeling or thought. Sometimes people even turn around and stand with their backs to the cushion and thus feel more space. Feel what is best for you.
The intention is that you feel enough space arise between you and the thought or feeling, so that it no longer takes possession of you and runs away with you. You run away from it!
Try it out for yourself with a feeling or thought that you want to get rid of.