A Super Simple Skill Very Few People Know, but the Whole World Needs
I refer to emotions as the Emotional Guidance System. This all-important energy center is housed in the heart chakra, and works to bring in energy as information that can fuel our awareness and development, as well as send out energy as a frequency that activates resonance, or the law of attraction, in our lives. In this way, they are crucial for navigating our surrounding and experiences, and also ourselves, with as much grace and wisdom as is possible, as well as influencing those surroundings and experiences in a positive way (a.k.a. "manifesting"). Emotions are the language of our feeling selves, and they bridge the gap between our physical and mental intelligence. They communicate to us our values, our desires, and our needs. Living according to and learning from these values, desires, and needs is our whole purpose for being here.
As such, emotions cannot be controlled. The same way you cannot control many aspects of your physical body or even your brain, you absolutely cannot control your feelings. And you're not supposed to. If you could control your feelings, you would pick and choose between what you prefer, what feels good and keeps you comfortable, and what you don't. You would then miss out on vital information you need to heal, grow, and evolve.
However, you can influence your emotions. You can do this by choosing to think of or engage with things you know from previous experience will cause you to feel a certain way. This is basically the practice known in spiritual and metaphysical circles as "raising your vibration".
While influencing your emotions can be a powerful tool to help yourself feel better, it can negatively interfere with your ability to receive the valuable information your natural and spontaneous emotions contain. The constant drive to "feel good" can lead to a consistent pushing away of the emotional messages our being is sending. This is known in spiritual or metaphysical circles as "spiritual bypassing". In psychology, it's more often referred to as "repression". And it is the opposite of processing your feelings.
Unprocessed emotions are often referred to as "blocks". They impede our progress because we can only move so far and so fast in a state of partial well-being versus optimal well-being. Decreased emotional health, just like physical health, limits our capabilities. The problem is that these blocks exist within blind spots in our self-awareness. In order to protect itself from the feelings which it perceives as threatening, the ego relegates them to the subconscious. As long as we continue treating emotion in a similar manner, we will continue harboring emotional blocks because we will lack the self-awareness required to process them. Every time a trigger arises, we have a choice as to what to do with it. If we do not make a change toward actively and consciously processing it, we will miss valuable opportunities to release that emotion as well as the blocks we've been stockpiling in our aura and bodies. With enough time, these unspent emotions can increase in density and feed physical ailments and symptoms, some as simple as muscle knots and tightness, and others as serious as tumors.
Processing our emotions is a relatively simple skill, but because our culture does not understand emotion and shames it rather than teaching us how to work with our Emotional Guidance System, most people don't actually know how to do it or where to begin even if they want to. Before I give you the steps to processing emotion, there are two things you will need in order to do so successfully:
- You will need to feel safe. In the highly-charged state caused by a trigger, it is near impossible to process your emotions. That is because emotions carry the strongest vibration within our being. Of all the emotions, fear carries the strongest vibration and is only surpassed by love. Every time we are confronted with an uncomfortable feeling, especially one we've previously repressed, fear will be activated as well because we feel threatened. If at all possible, remove the threat or remove yourself from it as calmly as possible and allow yourself to begin processing in a safe space.
- You will need quiet time. Processing emotions requires reflection. You will need time alone to look inward and sit with the data that is trying to present itself to you. This may take a while. It may need to be repeated. Carving out real time in your schedule to do this is often the first real message you send yourself that you are indeed worthy of acknowledgment and existence. Nature can be helpful here, as it naturally lowers our resistance.
The steps of processing emotion:
- Feel it – Be still. Lean in. Sit with your discomfort. Be present with your feelings. This is often where we cut ourselves off before, never moving toward the deeper steps. Feeling your emotions will require you to be uncomfortable. Do this for as long as it takes to naturally move into step two. Do not rush it, and as best you can, try not to resist it. Allow whatever wants to come up to do so in whatever manner it chooses to express itself, as long as it is not putting you or someone else in direct harm.
- Acknowledge it –
- Give it a name. What is the emotion(s) you are feeling?
- Associate it—Identify the trigger(s). What caused it?
- Connect it—Recognize and recall where you have felt this before. What past experiences resonate with this feeling? Can you identify the original wound (the first time you felt this feeling and did not understand or process it)?
- Express it – Speak. Write. Create. Move. This is to discharge the energy no longer needed. This is where therapy, journaling, art, and exercise can be so important to healing.
- Integrate it – This is to learn from it. What has this feeling taught you about yourself? About others? About the world around you? How have you grown as a result? How have you healed? Where is your awareness expanding?
- Repeat – You may need to repeat this process many times over to process even one emotion, trauma, or wound. You will certainly need to repeat it every time you experience a new and challenging feeling.
As long as we are repressing emotion, we will struggle to create the life we desire. Repressed emotions and unhealed wounds in our energy field send conflicting energetic signals to those of our mind and ego, which is why just "thinking positive" or thinking "happy thoughts" is often ineffective. Because it is based in willpower, it can only take us so far. And as the emotional baggage piles up and weighs us down, the signal it sends gets stronger, attracting more and more things into our life that we perceive as triggers in order to gain our attention and get its--our--needs met. At worst, our health, our relationships, our work suffers. At best, we limit our expansion and enlightenment, our authenticity suffers, and soul purpose may never come fully into focus.
Tending to our emotions and actively processing them is every bit as important as eating a nutritious diet, caring for and moving our bodies, and treating ourselves when we are sick. Because we have overlooked the significance of this, we see suffering needlessly increase, not just in our personal lives, but in our societies as emotional irresponsibility on an individual level weakens and sickens the collective. Often, the most vulnerable in our communities are the canaries in the coal mine—the young, the old, those with mental health challenges, and those who are socially crippled or outcast, as well as the highly sensitive and empathic. So tending to your emotional well-being is not just benefiting you, but everyone. With enough people catching on to this truth individually, we can reach a tipping point, a hundredth monkey effect, where emotional health becomes prioritized collectively in our institutions and legislation, as well as in our hearts and homes.