It is fairly common to avoid what we experience, specifically if we don’t like what the experience brings with it. Often, dare I say always, it is the emotional component that is disliked, unaccepted or denied.
I don’t like anger
I am aware of this right now. Today marks what would have been my mother’s 70th birthday, if she had not chosen to end her life prematurely in January this year. Today is a heavy day for me and I struggle with the mixture of anger at her decision to leave, her not being physically present and celebrating with her and her one year old grandchild, the feeling of missing her and on the other side the desire for me to be compassionate, accepting and seeing the positive in everything. Right now, the anger is much more prevalent and in my head I hear the screaming voice saying: ‘What the hell is there positive in this???’
I just want to feel better
I’m reminded of one of my client’s session this week where my client said: ‘I want to feel better, I don’t like feeling the way I’m feeling and it doesn’t make sense anyway.’
As a starting point, the desire to change isn’t wrong. It might just be premature to want to change from anger to joy in one step. There is a good reason for the emotion in the moment, whether we like it or not. There must be, otherwise why were we as a human emotional being constructed this way? Beside the obvious, the release of the various emotional responses help us deal with what is and release tension. Tears help you heal. So do the emotions that are present, with or without tears.
Charge versus memory
If you look back along the timeline of your life you will notice that there are memories that have little or no emotional charge. These are the events that you have dealt with and emotionally released. No matter how far back in time, those which still hold some negative emotional charge have not been fully released. These are the topics for therapy or self awareness and processing.
Present situation, past charge
Often we are reminded of past charges when something happens in present daily life that is somehow connected. This does not have to be logically understandable. All that matters is your awareness of the past memories coming up and relating to the present situation. This is your invitation for release and allowing.
I feel so bad
The other end of the scale from avoiding the emotional experience is prolonging it. If you enjoy ‘feeling bad’ or have some secondary gain attached to drama, then you’re living the other extreme. It’s not better than avoidance; it’s just another strategy to get what it is that seems more desirable. In the case of a drama queen it might well be what others avoid.
What to do in the present moment?
Coming back to my present situation of the emotional components of my mother’s 70th birthday – what shall I do? I don’t like the anger as it alienates people, I’m short tempered and impatient with my daughter and husband. These are behavioural projections of the anger, whereas I’m reminding myself to stay with it, without needing to express it beyond informing my husband: ‘I’m angry today and if I might project please don’t take it personally.’ His response, knowing of the effect of the date: ‘It is totally understandable that you’re angry’.
There again, I’m reminding myself that acceptance of what is, is paramount. Not just from others, but from myself first and foremost.
(Written on 2 November 2012)