There are times we all need a helping hand, when our emotions become so overwhelming that we feel like we can’t get our head above water. That was the topic of my last blog, and I shared two simple tips for how to rise above intense emotional turmoil, so we can make clear decisions.
This week, I want to explore the yin-yang flow of our everyday emotional journey.
What does our relationship with our emotions ideally look like, as we start to heal our emotional wounds?
Let’s begin with the analogy I used in my last blog. We all have this stunning crystalline aura, yet embedded in its surface are lumps of necrotic pus-oozing tissue. This is in stark contrast to the beauty of the rest of our aura, and so it should be.
When we are in touch with the crystalline (real) part of ourself, we experience a deep inner sense of “now”, where everything is moving in perfect synchronicity around us. We acknowledge a desire, and life moves us towards that desire. We are in a hurry and need a parking spot, and someone pulls out right in front of the shop we are heading to. We are needing an extra helping hand, and we get chatting to someone at random and find out they have the skills we are needing.
There is an intimate sense of flow, that leaves us knowing we are not alone in this giant Universe, and all things are as they should be. But more than that, there is also a sense of wholeness, and no sign of lack anywhere in sight.
That space of “non-lack” means that we’re not needing to “try” to be something more, or to work harder to achieve something. We simply know that who we are is perfect in this moment, and we are clearly guided by Spirit in our actions.
We are, and always will be, a work in progress….always learning and deepening our knowledge.
Even the enlightened Ones are constantly moving and growing. There is no “static” or stagnancy in the magical energy of our Universe. Yet there is a great sense of expansiveness available to us when we are in this heightened state.
In stark contrast to this beautiful flow, we then have our wounds and our deepest, darkest beliefs about ourself. In the analogy of the crystalline aura, these are the necrotic, pus-oozing lumps of tissue.
Where that beautiful crystalline aura is our peace, presence and grace, the necrotic lumps are our cruellest, most painful beliefs about ourself. In fact, they are so painful, we have spent our whole lifetime burying them, overcompensating for them, and projecting them onto other people, in order to keep the solution outside of ourselves.
Yet still, they are the words of death that our subconscious showers over us.
When these are at play in our life, we see the person who triggers us as the problem, and we uphold ourself as the innocent party in this nasty dynamic – the victim of circumstances.
Yet we are never a victim. We draw to ourself everything we need to experience in this lifetime, and it is always presented as a gift, no matter how challenging it may be.
When we know this, the very first thing we can do is to eliminate suffering over our emotional and physical wounds. Something happens to us which is very painful, and if we simply accept it and work through it without adding extra “story” to it, we can move through it with greater ease.
But as soon as we start suffering over our suffering, that’s when we get locked in the quicksand of the experience, and it becomes a whole lot more struggling, and more intense.
Tip #1: Don’t suffer over your suffering
I had an experience about 4 years ago when I bulged two discs in my back. It was the middle of the night, and I was at home alone, with no one to help me. I could barely move, and was in excruciating pain. This was my greatest fear playing out – a fear of being all alone, harmed, and unable to fend for myself.
It’s a very primal fear. Being innately a herd animal, an injury like that means we are about to become the lion’s breakfast, and the rest of our herd will run free.
What I did do was to carefully lever myself over the edge of the bed like a plank of wood, so that I was in a standing position. I needed to use the bathroom, but couldn’t bend, so I stood in the shower to pee. It was an effective but inelegant solution. Then I called 000, and an ambulance turned up 15 minutes later and took me to our local hospital.
I spent 2 days in hospital, yet while I was there, I avoided any “story”. I could have gone into the story of how scary it was, how alone I felt, how bad it could have become, how fortunate I was that I managed to get myself upright and call the ambulance. I could have amplified my suffering ten-fold.
But I didn’t. I simply accepted it, and gave it no unnecessary emotional energy. I sat bolt upright in my hospital bed (which was the only comfortable solution for me), and I set up my computer and conducted staff interviews and meetings with my team. It was like any other day, except the nurses were checking in on me every few hours, and I was looking out a different window to my one at home.
In many ways, that experience helped me move on from that fear of being alone. I moved through that experience with ease, no different to how I managed through the floods in Byron Bay in 2022. I just did what I needed to do, and didn’t add extra emotional suffering into the mix.
Once we’ve eliminated suffering from our consciousness, the events of our life are simply “events”.
They are not good or bad. In some cases we look on them as being the “challenges” that Spirit has set up for us, for our own learning. We take them in our stride, seeing a great opportunity for growth in this experience.
This is how I viewed my opportunity to heal the phobia I had around spiders. It was a spiritual challenge for me.
At other times, our “challenges” are those we have drawn into our life like a magnet, because of our unhealed wounds. These also offer us the opportunity for deep healing, through taking ownership of our wounds.
It’s one thing to say, “This is a pattern of mine, same scenario, different faces. Here I am again!” Yet we want to take that thought one step further, and identify exactly what the underlying belief is.
This is what A Course in Miracles means when it says, “We must look upon our illusions and not keep them hidden, because they do not rest on their own foundation.”
We must do that deeper exploration. And the only way we will do that is if we can learn to “sit” with our emotions, and not run away from them.
One of my mentors, Scott Washington, taught me that, “Our ability to achieve self-mastery is directly related to our ability to hang out with tension”. And he is referring to emotional tension.
Tip #2: Practice hanging out with your emotional tension
Whenever we feel triggered by an experience, emotions come to the surface. Those emotions are uncomfortable, and create a level of tension within us. Whether it’s a physical or emotional challenge, we want to “fix” it. If we can’t fix it, we want to get as far away from it as we can, or eliminate the person or situation that is triggering us (by driving them away).
I often see this when I’m teaching emotional clearing workshops. When someone in the group has a deep emotional wound triggered and is crying, shaking or screaming, it takes mindfulness and presence to hold space for that person. Their pain will sometimes trigger our own pain, and our own tears will flow as we resonate with their story. In some instances, their anger is projected onto us, and we become the perpetrators in their own “story”.
Holding space without descending into our own corresponding emotional triggers takes a high level of self-mastery.
If we want to avoid tension, we lash out and defend ourself. But once we learn to hang out with tension, we can more easily “park” our own emotional reaction, knowing it’s simply an equal and opposite effect from the “push” their emotions are giving us. This is what then allows us to hold space for them, without descending into our own triggers.
It's incredibly helpful to practice mindfulness around our own emotions. This way, we can be present and “yin” with our own emotions, as we hold space for someone else’s “yang” emotional outburst. We feel our emotions just as deeply, however they are more covert, rather than overt and obvious yang emotions (tears, shaking, screaming, laughing).
Both have a place in our journey. If we can only ever reflect on our emotions, and can never express them in a yang way, we are out of balance. If we can only ever express and react emotionally, and never reflect and submerge ourself into the layers of inner emotion, we are out of balance.
True emotional balance is being able to do both – each in their own time. And when we are in our yang emotions and they have effortlessly come to the surface of our life, we want to be able to fully embrace them, without blame for anyone else.
Tip #3: Embrace both the yin and yang of your emotions
Mindfulness is a powerful practice. It allows us to catch ourself when we have an emotional trigger, and to explore what that trigger is. It also allows us to feel our emotions fully, without projecting.
The further I walk along this journey, the more I observe that I am in a state of peace and focussed daily activity most of the time. And then, every now and then, an emotional trigger arises.
When that trigger occurs, it is not only a thought. It brings emotional energy with it, and when that bursts to the surface, I will spontaneously cry to the depths of my being, or laugh so intensely that I almost wet my pants, or feel so violated and outraged that my fury is lethal.
But I don’t remain in that state. I experience it, and once that bubble of emotion has emerged and been felt, it’s burst. And this is when I then look within, to understand what was triggered, and to feel those emotions in a whole different way. I submerge in them and still feel them deeply, but without the yang expression.
This is the yin and yang of emotions.
It’s also the perfect space to be able to step back from the belief that we know what’s true here, into that space that’s like an empty slate – the void, or the unknown. And at this point we ask Spirit to show us a fresh perspective on the wound that’s been triggered. When we are truly humble and intentional in this process, this is where our 180 degree shift can occur, which allows real peace and healing to occur.