Sadness, anger, frustration, fear, shame, envy, resentment, guilt, stress, boredom, anxiety, depression, overwhelm, confusion, grief, unworthiness, loneliness – there are many unpleasant emotions. And let’s be honest, they feel icky. We don’t like them. We don’t want to experience them. They can all just go away.
I’m very good at making them ‘go away’ and I wanted to share some of my tips with you. Here’s six:
1. Fix the outside world
It’s that thing/ person/ situation ‘over there’ that is the cause of our unpleasant emotion – so we must fix it. Control it. Change it. Make it the way you want it. Once we’ve done that, our pains will disappear. Bingo.
2. Blame the outside world
You might not be able to fix the thing outside of you that’s causing you pain, but at least you can blame it. Blame the person, the government, the situation, the job, the product, the economy, the dog – anything that keeps attention off you is a win. Sorted.
3. Get a quick fix of pleasure
We should utilise quick fixes of pleasure to make us feel better for a minute. My go-to’s are shopping and movies. Food and alcohol are also popular choices. The modern world puts all these things at our fingertips. Easy peasy!
Two words will help you here: ‘I’m fine’. Use them as much as possible. Whether in conversations with yourself in your head, or with others outside of you. If you can repeat these words enough, you’ll start to believe them. Ignorance is bliss.
5. Keep busy
This one is great – if you can keep yourself really busy for as long as possible, you’ll soon have no time to notice any unpleasant emotions you have. It’s as if they’ve disappeared. Magic!
Just keep winning out there, in the world. Keep chasing that adulation and success. Buy more fancy stuff and raise your status. If you can pile enough of this external validation on top of those unpleasant feelings, they’ll become so buried so deep that you’ll forget they exist. Forever.
If you can engage in the above for long enough, what you’ll experience is:
• Ingrained, unconscious patterns of emotional suppression and avoidance – you’ll be so good at this that you won’t even know you’re doing it. It’ll be second nature, an effortless habit.
• A never-ending hamster wheel of pain – you’ll build up emotional baggage that will show up over and over again. It might be dressed a little differently but, rest assured it’s the same stuff.
• Physical problems – due to psychosomatics (interaction of mind and body) all that pent-up unpleasantness will seep into your cells and show itself in some form of acute or chronic physical malfunction. Now you can have bodily pain as well as emotional pain.
You might win the battle but, you won’t win the war
Clearly, I’m being facetious about all this; however, it’s a serious subject. Whatever the reason – be it societal conditioning or childhood trauma, we learn to avoid, suppress and project our emotions. This helps us feel better/ numbs us for a minute but, the long-term effects are damaging. In addition to causing physical illness, poor handling of our emotions affects our relationships, fulfilment, drives addictions, causes mental health issues and even leads to suicide.
It’s time to build a healthy relationship with unpleasant emotion; to accept and express it rather than dismiss and suppress it. To feel so we can heal. By handling each unpleasant emotion as and when it arises, by slowing down and making space for unpleasantness to just ‘be’, without judgement, resistance or reaction, you may realise that all these emotions are not as powerful as you thought or as harrowing as you feared. You’ll see how fast they dissipate when they are welcomed in. You might even wonder what all the fuss was about. There was nothing to be afraid of.
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
Meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
Because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
– Rumi –
About the author: To find out more about Pinky Jangra, please click here.