There is never anything but the present, and if one cannot live there, one cannot live anywhere. – Alan Watts
Show me someone who isn’t an emotional mess at some point. We all go through stuff that pulls us back and forces us to stop, take stock and move in a different direction – the right direction for us. I found that the best strategy when the emotion paw-paw hits the fan is to “sit with your emotions” and work through the process. We learn who we are in the stillness of our process. Sometimes we stay stuck because we have no clue which way is up. Other times we are lucky to have insight (which we dig deep for) to navigate our way.
I was recently struck immobile through a knee injury and was bed-bound for several days. This forced me to process old stuff that was bubbling up, causing me to be stuck in the past. I’m sure you have been experiencing the same bubbling up of old things and becoming aware of known or unknown blocks causing self-sabotaging behaviours and thought patterns.
Since lockdown ended we have all been given the opportunity to process and let go of the past and focus on building our futures now. Most people I talk to have no idea where to even start with the process and how to “sit with your emotions” to begin the process of clearing the clutter.
I am sharing the process that I usually follow and hopefully give you some guidance on how to “sit with” your stuff in your own way.
1. FEEL AND BE AWARE OF THE EMOTIONS / FEELINGS
I reflect through meditation on what these are for me at the moment. Is it anger, fear, regret or even guilt? I also feel where in my body the tension related to this emotion sits. This helps me to connect to it and become fully aware of where and how it may be blocking me. By slowing down I can see things clearer than when I’m on autopilot going about my daily business.
In most cases, sitting with these emotions brings up tears, an urge to scream, or some response. We tend to push these urges down and keep them safe where they continue keeping us blocked and may manifest in physical disease or conditions. Let it out! Find what’s right for you to express and let it out.
When I know what I’m feeling in the moment, I breathe through it. Deeeep belly breaths. It is important not to get caught up in the emotions, but rather observe what’s going on. By getting caught up we can easily spiral into “victim mode” and that’s a whole other story. Then you’re not “sitting with your emotions” but becoming them.
What’s the trigger? Tracing the origin of the feeling/emotion
Once I’ve identified the emotion I am working with, I reflect on the cause or just the trigger. That is usually a good place to start. Being triggered by something also indicates the underlying emotion and could set your process off for you.
When you reflect on the trigger, here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- What is actually going on here?
- What am I experiencing right now?
- Feelings, emotions, etc
- What thoughts are playing through my head right now?
2. CREATE AN EMOTIONALLY SUPPORTIVE ENVIRONMENT
This environment is very important. It helps create a safe, non-judgmental space within which to process and “sit with your emotions”. Here are the elements I include in my space:
- Self-compassion: this means accepting where I am right now without expectations or pressure.
- No judgement: I can’t stress this aspect enough. There is no right or wrong way to do this. There is only YOUR way.
- Trust your gut: Your intuition is a powerful thing. We have been conditioned to ignore it and only work with what’s in our head space. When you get that tug in your gut and your heart, you will know what is right for you. It takes time to reconnect to our intuition, but with practice, we get there.
- I quite enjoy classical music and listening to binaural beat-infused music. This has an impact on brain waves and energy systems in our physical bodies and helps you to relax through your reflective process.
3. LETTING GO
When I’ve traced the origin(s) of the emotions/feelings and why I was triggered, I begin the steps of letting go. Letting go of:
- My need to remain attached to things from my past that don’t serve me any longer in the present (or will not in future).
- The need to blame others or myself for pain.
- All the emotions and thoughts that disempower me from living and embracing my truth.
- The comfort of the victim zone and stepping into the empowerment zone – on my terms.
Letting go is a powerful process in itself. It is also a difficult process for some because they believe their power sits in holding on to the past and associated beliefs and patterns. Letting go is about building what will serve and empower you NOW and in your future.
I make this a ritualistic practice:
- Such as writing a letter of forgiveness or acceptance to the one/those who have wronged me and then I burn or bury it.
- Another practice is using the cleansing power of water to let it go. This could be walking/swimming in the ocean or a warm shower or even walking in the rain. There’s magic in the association of cleansing with water. But find what works for you – what feels right in your gut.
By letting go you open space up for acceptance.
- Accept that you are no longer bound by the past nor does it define your present – except if you keep living there.
- Fully accepting that you are the creator of your reality through the quality of your thoughts and behaviour.
- This process of acceptance involves your embracing the unique individual that you are, here with a special gift to enrich yourself, others and the world around you.
- Accept that you are here to grow and transform and not be “perfect”. Perfection is subjective and not defined by others for you but by you for yourself.
5. MY COACH
An important aspect of my journey and a space where I reflect on the processes and challenges I experience which fuels my growth.
My growth process is enriched by this relationship. It offers a different perspective and insight to look at things differently and be conscious of how I show up.
To “sit with your emotions” can be difficult but so necessary to challenge and shift your perspective. What carries me through the challenging spaces is compassion and knowing that there’s growth that comes through the process. My desire to strip away and clear the old patterns, behaviour and thoughts far outweighs the need to remain in my comfort zone. By going through the “sit with your emotions” process I expand my comfort zone bit by bit. This expansion ensures that as I grow there is always a bit of stretch worked in.
With comfort comes complacency. And complacency is the antithesis of growth. I encourage you to follow your process with what feels right for you. Listen to and trust your gut. Open your heart and mind to the new possibilities in your present and future, rather than being enslaved by your past. Remember, the impression you have of yourself and your circumstance is up to you.
I would love to hear how you are shaping your process or where you need specific help with making the shifts.