An ancient Chinese proverb says, “Control your emotions, or they will control you.” Many people would line up to teach you how to manage your emotions, but very few will tell you, “Allow your emotions . . . but manage your thoughts.”
The idea of managing your emotions is best qualified by the famous British sign, “Keep calm and carry on.” This was an essential model during World War II, when it was important for people to keep their cool and move toward safety while bombs were being dropped on their island. Because of that motto, popular culture now categorizes the British as reserved, repressed, resilient, unemotional, and self-controlled.
The rejection of your emotions could be a disaster waiting to happen and has the potential to lead you to a prison of your own making. Emotions are energy, and energy must flow. When emotions are repressed or suppressed, the energy of the emotion remains in your body. This leads to cellular changes and could bring on dis-ease.
Coping or Counterproductive
Worse yet is when you seek to numb your emotions through alcohol, drugs, eating disorders, or other unhealthy, counterproductive behavior. Unfortunately, the feelings remain embedded, so you must seek more and more of the method you’ve chosen to numb them. Eventually, a mountain of repressed feelings keeps you stuck in a never-ending cycle of emotional avoidance.
Alice Miller, author of The Body Never Lies: The Lingering Effects of Hurtful Parenting wrote, “Genuine feelings cannot be produced, nor can they be eradicated. We can only repress them, delude ourselves, and deceive our bodies. The body sticks to the facts.”
Positive thinking cannot “fix” your feelings. You must allow your feelings to flow, and to be expressed, to avoid building resistance in your body.
Your thoughts are electrical, and your feelings are magnetic. Together, they create an electromagnetic charge. Your thoughts serve to justify, promote, and prolong your feelings. The conclusion is: it is helpful to manage your thoughts.
Which of your thoughts prolong your feelings? Any thoughts of blaming others or unfairness can prolong your exposure to a feeling you may not like. Equally, resistance to how you feel will also prolong your exposure. The biochemistry, that is, the physiology, of your body’s reaction to a feeling has been measured to last approximately 90 to 120 seconds. Your mind causes you to dwell on your feelings which then prolongs your exposure. Anything beyond those 120 or so seconds and you are in the story, the concept of the feelings.
To allow your feelings to flow, you must disconnect from your thoughts. You can use focused attention to disengage from your thoughts and experience your feelings without judgment. Breathe in deeply and notice how you are feeling. Notice the location of your feeling, its intensity, and its size. Name the feeling; acknowledge its existence. Then give yourself permission to feel what you are feeling. Using focused attention to Feel, Name, and Allow. Your feeling will flow and soon dissipate.
Manage the Thoughts
The feelings will arise again when your thoughts turn to blame or unfairness. You can use the focused attention method to non-judgmentally allow your feelings every time this happens. When the feeling has passed, you can evaluate your thoughts and make the choice to select and implement thoughts that serve you. It is not your feelings you must control . . . it is your thoughts.
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” — William James
Emotions are the basis of creativity and the engine of manifestation. Knowing and allowing your emotions leads you to be more mindful and self-aware. “The true opposite of depression is neither gaiety nor absence of pain, but vitality—the freedom to experience spontaneous feelings.” ― Alice Miller, The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self.