When I was thinking about this post, a little scene from A League Of Their Own popped into my head:
Well, in the world of emotion, sometimes there is lots of crying! But there is no trying, especially when it comes to feelings you are resisting.
Personally, I have lots of feelings all the time AND I sometimes resist those feelings.
Even though I am in touch with my emotions, I do sometimes end up blocking them (one of my good old survival strategies).
So I have to practice allowing them to come through.
Having your emotions can be an act of surrender.
Just like any other process that involves letting go (think: falling asleep), “trying” makes it worse.
How do you know if you are resisting your emotions?
ONE: You might be in a bad mood for no reason.
TWO: There might be a problem you feel like you can’t solve.
THREE: You really want something in your life and it is not happening.
FOUR: You might be experiencing physical pain like a sore back, neck pain, headaches or stomachaches that have no medical explanation.
FIVE: You are super snappy or you find yourself isolating from friends or family.
SIX: You are having trouble sleeping.
SEVEN: You feel numb. You might not even be feeling the good stuff. When’s the last time you laughed? Or something filled your heart with love?
Why would people resist their emotions?
ONE: Sometimes it is just because you might not have that much practice or knowledge about letting them come through. To bolster your emotional intelligence, check out this guide to the meaning of 10 common emotions.
TWO: You could have had overwhelming experiences emotionally as a young person and your brain gave you some nice protection (blocked some of that emotional intensity from coming into your consciousness) and now you might inadvertently resist your feelings.
THREE: Emotions are unpleasant. Uh, who wants to sign up for that??
Why do you even need your feelings?
They are a part of the human design. They have a purpose just like your cardiovascular system or your skeletal system. It is not extra. Or just extra hurdles thrown in the mix for fun.
So, what do you DO when you know you are resisting your emotions?
ONE: Remind yourself that there is a feeling that wants to come to the surface and it’s just not here yet.
I get bothered about the fact that it doesn’t rise immediately sometimes because I can feel the emotion rattling around in there and I don’t know what it is. So, when I feel that discomfort (usually I feel crabby), I use this strategy a lot.
TWO: Radical Acceptance.
Tell yourself that you welcome any emotion that wants to show up. You might already intellectually “know” that, but this can help relax the psyche so that any unconscious defenses or blocks are released.
THREE: Take some time for yourself and be still or quiet.
My best way is to lay on the ground. I do not get on my phone, I do not clean my house, I do not do anything. I lay down and breathe. For as many minutes as I can handle. If that is one minute and nothing comes up, I will do it again later.
If that seems crazy to you, go to a yoga class. Let someone guide you through the process of finding some space and breathing a little.
FOUR: Stop thinking about it or trying to figure it out.
Get your mind on someone or something else, go on a walk and listen to music or a podcast and then let your mind circle back to whatever the situation is after a while.
If you successfully let the feeling come up, you might get a flash of insight.
Or you could feel some kind of relief.
You might find yourself feeling more apt to understanding another person’s point of view, you might feel like you want to offer an apology.
Or you might feel like you have some excitement or interest in whatever is next on deck in your life.
Just a little more enjoyment or motivation might be available.
When the emotion is actually allowed through to your conscious awareness, there may be nothing it needs.
It may just come up and resolve. Or you might cry, need to tell someone something, write down your insight. Whatever it is might not be that big of a deal.
But allowing it to come through allows some space to be opened up so you can move on and feel better.
I would sign up for that pay off any day!