It sounds simple enough: Everybody wants to be happy and if I change my thoughts to more positive thoughts I will have a great life. Or: If I practice loving kindness and focus on positive feelings, I will become compassionate, the world will be a better place and I will be a happier person.
But what nobody tells you is what to do with the angry, hateful, fearful feelings that life is so good at presenting us with. We are just told to focus on the positive and “letting go” of anger etc. Sure, that’s good. If you can do it.
If you can’t, and most people can’t, the result will be suppression and repression of your difficult feelings. Then nothing is accomplished. Nil. Nada. Zilch. Rien.
You just threw a blanket over the messy stuff. You just swept it under the rug and now admire your pretty room. But the dirt is still there. Under a shiny layer of goodness the dirt goes on accumulating. You might even forget about it.
You are now living a lie. It’s a pretty lie but it’s still a lie. You and everyone around you are the victims.
This happens very often for people inspired by New Age where the belief is that our low “vibration” (bad feelings) will attract bad stuff. To remedy this New Age offers several techniques to “raise your vibration”. (This is basically what the famous Law of Attraction is all about.)
Those techniques often make people feel really good. For a while. Then it wears off and another technique is required. And another. And another. Ad infinitum.
And all you’ve been doing is running away from yourself. Some people get addicted to this cycle.
So, what to do with all those difficult emotions? Fear, anger, rage, anxiety etc. What to do if you are really, REALLY, pissed at someone or something? If you are terrified? Worried? Desperate?
Send out loving thoughts? Immerse yourself in light?
Well, around 99.9% of the population will not be able to do this without suppressing their emotions at the same time. To send out loving thoughts without emotional suppression takes tremendous spiritual maturity. Buddha was sitting under that tree for a really long time until he had it all figured out.
I want to make one thing clear: There is nothing wrong or dangerous about having so called negative feelings.
(Note: I’m not talking about mental disorders or destitution here, just normal human behavior in more or less normal situations).
What is bad, though, is entertaining negative thoughts that you keep repeating over and over again. But on the other hand that is really easy to change. It’s just a matter of changing your thinking habit. Most people who try report dramatic and lasting positive change. Your thoughts don’t own you anymore.
But our emotions are not as straightforward as our thoughts.
In my experience, the only way to deal with difficult emotions is, paradoxically, to accept them and feel them, over and over again. Every little feeling has to be accepted and embraced. Then, eventually, they will disappear on their own. This can take a really long time. Often years.
I know. You don’t want that. Nobody does. You want it NOW. Because we live in a society where waiting just one second for a web page to load is insufferable.
Once you have gotten over that this might take longer than one second, one of the biggest pitfalls is trying to understand and make sense of your emotions. Please don’t try. They simply don’t make sense on the level of the mind. Just feel and accept, feel and accept. If you try to attach stories and explanations to your difficult emotions you might be stuck in their net for real. That’s like having ten pages up that never load.Or sweeping yourself completely under the rug.
But don’t despair. There is one other way – and it can be instant: Surrender.
This means that you give up trying to control or understand. It means to even invite your difficult emotions when they rear their ugly heads, to welcome them lovingly because that is the way you are feeling right now and everything about you is holy and therefore these feelings are holy too. This takes a lot of courage.
Surrender is, as you see, also a form of acceptance. The deepest acceptance: acceptance through the heart. You don’t even try to understand what is happening to you. You have accepted that these feelings are within you and you don’t even try to change anything. You have surrendered your desire to be free of them.
For this trust is required, deep trust in yourself, in life or God,
Surrender goes against the grain of our society. We have been taught to never give up, to keep fighting. But sometimes never giving up means that all you do is banging your head against the wall or knocking on doors that never open.
Sometimes it’s good to give up. (Don’t tell anyone I said that!)
You are your own teacher. No one can tell you what will happen or how long it will take for your emotions to be freed. If you are really ripe it can be instant. Or you can surrender gradually over months or even years. Whatever you are ready for it will be a beautiful process, divine in its purity.
In the end, you will find yourself in the unique, unfathomable youness of you, the deepest love imaginable. You’ll be living in grace and wonder. And time won’t matter. Not even in waiting for a web page to load.