E is for Emotions

Hello Beautiful Soul! Thank you for joining me for today’s blog.  Today we are going to be talking about emotions.  Can you say, “E-MO-TIONS?” 

Okay, okay. So I know this is probably not everyone’s favorite topic in the world.  Goodness knows it’s not mine.  We’ve all got emotions we’re okay with, and then there are others we’re not so okay with.  And typically we’ll avoid those “not okay” ones at all costs.

But I’m here to tell you that emotions are not what we think they are.  They are not a function of the human body or psyche that we have no control over.  They are actually a natural feedback system that supports our evolution.  When we understand this system we can use our emotions to give us feedback on our lives, either “Yay, you! You’re on the right path!”, or “Caution.  There’s a adjustment that needs to be made.”  When we use this feedback system to our advantage we learn and heal faster.  When we ignore it, or look at our emotions as something to fear, we often only increase our suffering.

Such was the case for me recently.  Over the past several months I’ve been thinking about Molly (my dog) and worrying about her death.  I know that sounds morbid, and hopefully it’s still a long way off, but with an aging dog, it’s not as far off as I might like it to be.

I was trying to be positive, and focus on the here and now.  I was being conscious to be more patient with her, playing more, and enjoying our every moment together.  Still I found myself thinking about when she would eventually die.  I saw an article on dogs that live the longest at one point, and while I was delighted to see Lhasa Apsos on the list, when I read more I found that their life expectancy is 12-14 years.  Molly is 12 now.  Needless to say I fell apart in that moment.  Since then I couldn’t shake thinking about that future moment.  My mind was playing with all the variables.  Will I be holding her?  Will it be natural and painless?  Will I have to make a choice about when it happens?  How will I make that decision?  How will I handle it?  What if there’s an emergency I’m not knowledgable on, which is all of them when it comes to dogs?  How will I respond?  Mostly I thought about how I would feel in each of these moments.  I see myself falling to my knees, wailing, and being inconsolable.

These moments were painful, I wasn’t just thinking about a possible future occurrence, I was living it each time I thought about it.  My positivity wasn’t helping.  I was still spending way too much time thinking about a perceived future event and suffering in the now as a result.

Then one day I realized that most of my thoughts were centered, not on Molly herself, but on my emotions.  The suffering I was creating was not in fear of her death, but in fear of the emotions I would feel as a result.  In that moment I said to myself that if and when I have those emotions, they will not hurt me.  Despite the fact that I would not consciously choose them, and that I’d prefer if Molly lived as long as I did, I told myself it would be okay to experience these emotions. Molly headband

My attempts to stay positive and enjoy the moment with Molly, in this instance, were just distractions from the real issue, my fear of these particular emotions.  Once I acknowledged that I was truly afraid to feel pain and realized that it would be a pain I could survive, the thoughts stopped.  Now I am able to fully be present with Molly and enjoy the present moment with her.

This whole thing was not unlike the issue that I discovered with my previous panic disorder.  When my panic attacks started I was afraid I was dying, but after a few years I would actually have panic attacks because I was afraid of having a panic attack.  I was afraid to feel fear.  My panic attacks subsided and eventually disappeared when I realized I was actually more afraid to be afraid than I was of dying, and decided that it was okay to feel fear.

It’s okay to be afraid.

That was and is such an empowering phrase.  When we allow our emotions, including fear, they don’t seem to have as much control over us.  Think about it.  Do you ever feel like happiness and joy are controlling you, or you’re at their mercy?  No, because we allow them without a thought, and actually welcome them.

When we welcome our emotions, even the “bad” ones, they can do their job of guiding us on our path and helping us heal.  And once they’ve done their job they can move on.  It’s a natural process, sometimes we just need to get out of our own way.

What emotions do you avoid?  What are not “okay” emotions?  How do you typically avoid them?  What’s one thing you could do differently to start to feel safe experiencing those emotions?

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