– By Leigh Hawkins –
e have all accumulated a multitude of experiences throughout our lives that have affected us one way or another. Our past, good and bad, alters the way we see the world around us, as well as how we perceive ourselves. Many of these past experiences have an emotional attachment to them. More often we can easily recall “the feel good” experiences, while the tougher or more traumatic ones are tucked deep within us. They have become part of our subconscious, and unbeknownst to us, play out in our habits and patterns. No matter how long ago the experience took place, it is necessary to recognize the impact it may have on our emotional and mental well-being, even late into life. It’s hard to recognize the affects when life is going smoothly, but becomes much more apparent when life isn’t going the way we’d like it to.
We have to take the time to work through all of the emotions that surrounded “the event” in a healthy way or it can hamper our ability to move on. We may continue to stay stuck in the same place, because we are allowing that previous experience to control us. When we decide to take the crucial steps to process and release the emotional baggage that is hindering us, we begin to grow and evolve in a positive way. We realize that things can change, they don’t have to be the same, and therefore, there can be a different outcome. This can be a scary endeavor, and will require a lot of work, self-discipline and vulnerability but if you want growth, you need to invest in your personal development. The results are endless and amazing!
Here are a few practices to help your emotions when things get uncomfortable.
Practice Acceptance –
Acceptance is letting things be as they are. This can be a wonderful practice when we are confronted with an unsettling or uncomfortable situation. It could be something about the present moment, the person in front of you, something about yourself, which influences your emotional state at the moment. Our natural tendency is to avoid any discomfort or negative feelings that stem from the situation and resisting them only magnifies the pain. By accepting and letting the emotion be there, without trying to change or manipulate it, can relieve you of unnecessary suffering. Acceptance has nothing to do with resignation – what you choose to do will come out of your understanding of the moment. Practice being open and curious about the moment and accepting it as it is. There’s no telling what you might learn from it.
This is an amazing emotional release technique. Yes, it is easier said than done, but the returns are well worth the efforts. Forgiveness does not mean we approve or endorse an act or behavior and it doesn’t excuse it or make it right. It does, however, release us from the prison or shackles that not forgiving holds over us. When we continue to hold on to resentment and bitterness from past wrongs, we are the ones that suffer, not the offenders. Once we are able to process and work through the negative emotions, we gain freedom from the past. It is then that we can take back the power to choose how we will move forward.
Broaden your perspective –
If asked, people generally claim they are broad minded and open to new ideas. Most people, though, are creatures of habit. They have a comfort zone and don’t move out of it easily. When we encounter a situation, we tend to look at it through the same lens rather than being present and open to the current circumstances. It may be someone’s actions or something they say that triggers a memory of a similar situation and we make immediate assumptions. It is in these instances that we can stop, pause and just be present to the feelings arising within us. Try not to react, but rather take a moment to open up your eyes to a different perspective. You may find compassion for the other person by putting yourself in their shoes, or even gratitude for the opportunity to learn a new way of seeing things. Once we alter the way we see the experience, this can change the way we feel and the way we act, which changes everything.