It’s Time to Dig Deep and Excavate Your “Negative” Emotions

“Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.” -Sigmund Freud

It’s a rare occurrence when you’ll find me quoting Sigmund Freud… to be honest, this might be the first time ever. But, on this very statement of Freud’s, I wholeheartedly agree and wanted to speak to this briefly here.

For those involved in the healing arts, particularly in energy work and most especially with Reiki, there is this overarching notion that the practitioner must maintain utmost decorum. I’d even venture to say that this notion has bled into the greater “New Age” movement. Anger and other “negative” emotions aren’t to be entertained because notions that we are in control of our own happiness and that we can affirm ourselves to a happier, more fulfilling life are prevalent (lest our negative moods lead us to a dismal life!). 

In Reiki it is explicit, as one of the principles that we are to adhere to is, “Just for today I will not be angry.” Of course, “just for today” means any and every day that one may perform Reiki, which translates to a general daily affirmation of “I will not be angry”.

Photo by justDONQUE.images

I took a workshop with a man named Patrick Zeigler last year. He facilitates teachings of a particular type of energy healing that is very centered on connecting to our emotions. The workshop was very deep and powerful in how it had us reach deep-seated emotions often held in the subconscious mind and allowed us to release those in the process of further opening our hearts.

Patrick mentioned from his observation that a number of the great and renowned Reiki masters in the world died prematurely of heart disease. (This is hearsay, of course, as I have not done in depth research on the lives of famous Reiki masters). He contends that this is a reflection of suppression of the so-called “negative” emotions such as anger. As Freud says, unexpressed emotions do not die. They live on within us, sometimes coming out emotionally in different forms and sometimes literally eating us up inside.

It’s important to acknowledge our feelings, acknowledge why we’re feeling that way, and most importantly it’s imperative to express the feelings. Of course, it’s important to channel emotions in a healthy way. Throwing plates against a wall in rage is probably not the most healthy way to express anger. Going out for a run to cool off and pounding a pillow might be safer and more ideal ways to let that energy flow.

The key is, however, not to swallow those emotions and bury them deep down. It is okay to feel. We live in a challenging world nowadays filled with stress, complicated social and family lives, and are disconnected from nature and energies that sustain our wellbeing. The havock on our nervous systems is immense. Of course, if these emotions are chronic, there may be some underlying causes that need to be explored with a therapist. That said, I am just going to serve here as a voice to caution you against burying emotions.

Of course, when you’re entering into a session with a client (or entering into a business meeting or any other sort of situation where it is necessary to maintain your decorum), you’ll want to practice “bracketing” your emotions. Bear in mind, however, that bracketing means setting them aside temporarily, so that you can be fully present for your client. It assumes that you will return to pick up your baggage right after and take a deep look at it and let out what needs letting out rather than affirming day by day that you will not let the fury loose.

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Emotional Comfort or Spiritual Insight? Not So Alike

Something terrible has happened to you or you’ve just had a bad day. A part of you is yearning for comfort, a hug or words of assurance and support. And, often there is this notion that when things are quite awful, we’re seeking for something within the realm of spiritual “upliftment” or insight… so you find yourself wanting that, too.

It’s strange, but sometimes we conflate the emotional and the spiritual as if they are similar or the same.

I have to say that emotional comfort and anything spiritually helpful that is shared between two people after something terrible has happened to one party don’t tend to be the same thing. Sometimes they do cross lines into each other’s territory. But, sometimes they are so remotely different that while emotional comfort can feel nice at the time, it may be spiritually detrimental and while the spiritual insight might render the potential for growth, it could be emotionally harsh.

There, I said it. But, what on Earth do I mean by this?

Let’s play out a hypothetical scenario. Okay, so someone has wronged you in some way. You feel hurt and confused. You share this story with someone close to you, a friend, a family member, or say your partner. Now the person close to you shares their sympathy for your ordeal and your pain. They agree with you in the ways in which you were wronged and the ways that the other person was acting out of line, or childishly or whatever be the case.

This is emotional comfort. It revolves around sympathy and pats on the back.

To be honest, the emotional folks among us, including myself need this kind of support at times. It helps us regain our footing and helps us let the emotion run through us.

Now, if you’ve been following my blog for a while you’ll know that I’m all about energy and working through emotions. Letting emotions run their course is a good way to let that energy flow out of you. That’s great.

However, the aforementioned scenario doesn’t necessarily help one evolve or grow from their experience all that much. It validates their hurt. It validates their pain. It validates right/wrong dichotomies that rule the wars of the world both internally within individuals and externally amongst people.

What about Spiritual Insight?

So, let’s take that same scenario. Now instead your close confidant points to issues surrounding the conflict that you may not have considered. Could there have been a reason that your “adversary” acted out of line? Maybe they’re having serious family problems? Maybe they’re feeling very insecure about something in their life and it’s coming out on you inadvertently? They might try to get you to see it from a broader perspective. They may remind you that it isn’t what happens to us in life, but how we choose to handle it. Harbouring pain or negativity only hurts us.

Now this is all wise and helpful advice, but not what we necessarily want to hear to be comforted. It’s sometimes hard for us to see that maybe we weren’t wronged in the grand scheme of things, but in actuality given a gift or a blessing we can choose to take and use to grow and see things from a higher vantage point.

You see emotional comfort is good and necessary, but so is the transcendence of the issue and the pain. We can’t stay too long in the woe-is-me mode because we run the risk of letting that pain dwell inside us. In my experience, rising to the level of the spiritual was the only thing that helped me overcome my most challenging issues.

All that said there is something called “spiritual bypassing” that is also not where you want to find yourself. That’s when you don’t deal with your emotions, but rather take the spiritual high road (that’s a play on words right there, did you get it? Hint: I didn’t mean taking on a morally superior attitude 😉 ). It’s when you may tell yourself spiritual truisms to bypass the actual feeling and processing of what you’re experiencing. Or, when you do some sort of spiritual practice like meditation with the intention to override actually feeling your emotions and dealing with them. In other words, it means avoiding going deep down and feeling the pain to work through it.

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