This got me reflecting on the huge range of emotions there are and the importance of allowing yourself to be present with all of them – the good, the bad and the ugly. If you want to fully experience positive emotions, it’s not possible to avoid feeling the negative ones. To be able to fully feel and experience joy, love and excitement; one also needs to be able to feel angry, sad and anxious.
None of us like to feel sad; it’s easy to prefer to push it away, distract yourself with work, or use more harmful escapes such as drugs and alcohol. However, sadness is a very normal emotion and avoiding it denies us the ability to fully experience all the range of emotions. There is a way to feel and experience emotion without being afraid of them. Rather than judging your response to an emotion, such as sadness - “I’m weak because I cry” or “I’m a failure” – try simply sit alongside the emotion and not judge it or avoid it or try to fix it – just sit with it, acknowledge it and let it be. It will pass, in the same way laughter and joy don’t last. It’s another emotion to experience and not avoid.
The same applies to positive emotions, such as joy, pleasure, excitement and pride. These also pass so if we can be very present with them, it ripens the experience. This is about being mindful and present in the current moment so that you get to fully experience your emotions.
Sitting with the sadness I have felt in the past few days since the passing of Phillip Hughes has left me feeling quite drained and tired – sadness can be a draining emotion. Yet I felt a sense of purpose from experiencing the feeling. It heightened the appreciation of my own children, and it reminded me to live each day to its fullest.
Fully embracing the excitement and joy in watching my step-daughter run a personal best time at Nationals allowed me to share her experience in a really meaningful way, connecting us even closer together.
When we try to avoid, squash, hide or mask any negative emotion, we only serve to give it more power and importance in our minds.
I encourage you to embrace all of your emotions. It helps to learn a much wider vocabulary for your emotions so that you can express and understand what you are feeling. For example are you happy or is it more like pleased, excited, joyful, amused or delighted? Are you sad or is it more lonely, hopeless, hurt, discouraged or disappointed? Feel it, name it, sit with it (no judgments) and it will pass.
What emotions have you experienced lately? Please share your stories here too, I’d love to hear them.