The Power is in Your Pain… How to get over the fear of feeling negative emotion (Read Time: 5 min.)

dont whenI was angry yesterday… SUPER angry… Angry because the day wasn’t going the way I wanted it to.  Angry because key parts of my life haven’t gone the way I wanted them to… Angry because I came home from vacation and instead of a relaxing “Welcome home”, I had walked into an emotional mess… that had started WHILE I was on vacation.

The rain was pouring… Groceries needed to be done… A sick child needed to make an emergency visit to the doctor… It was my every day life greeting me at the door of a blissful, peaceful two day getaway… and I WASN’T pleased about it…

Before I knew it, a well of anger sprang up, not simply about the disturbances of the moment but about the disappointments of my life.  I was angry about the way things turned out… and angry that I couldn’t change the past… and angry that I had no guarantee that the future would be any different…

And then I read a line in a book by Thich Nhat Hanh called FEAR:

” Every time the pain manifests, we have to let it manifest; we should not push it down.  We shouldn’t try to suppress it.  We have to let it come and take good care of it.”

Take good care of my anger?  REALLY?  And then I read further:

“If you get angry with your anger, it is multiplied ten times.  This is not wise.  You already suffer a lot, and if you get angry with your anger, you will suffer more.  A baby may not be pleasant when she cries and kicks, but her mother picks her up tenderly and holds her in her arms, and the mother’s tenderness penetrates the baby.  After a few minutes, the baby feels better and may stop crying.  It’s the energy of mindfulness that empowers you to recognize your pain and sorrow and embrace them tenderly.  You feel some relief, and your baby is quiet.”

And then I understood what I needed to do.  I went into my room, pulled out my journal and began writing with the following words:

I am angry because…

And I wrote as much as I could feel, as much as I could think, everything that was coursing through my body, I wrote it all down in that journal.  By the end, I understood my anger in a deeper way.  I connected with the fact that what I thought I was angry about and what I was REALLY angry about were two very different things.  It had nothing to do with the blips of the day and everything to do with what I perceived to be missing in my life… and something miraculous happened.

By connecting with my anger, by embracing it tenderly and allowing it to manifest, clarity arrived and reminded me that the thing that I thought was missing in my life had been there all along… and then gratitude and love came in and held my anger in its arms… and I felt relief.

The whole process took all of about twenty minutes but it healed me in a way that no amount of psychoanalyzing self-talk could.  I followed the instructions of Thich Nhat Hanh and got exactly what I needed in the moment that I needed it most… And that’s what I’d like you to do with your fear.

Fear doesn’t leave because we chase it away.  It doesn’t get erased because we push it down or shove it out.  In fact, when we engage in battle with our fear, the fear always wins because we’ve made our ally our biggest enemy.  No, the only way to turn your fear into fuel is to allow it to come, take very good care of it while it’s there, and lovingly release it when it goes.  It’s what I call “inviting your fear over for dinner.”  This technique works for every negative emotion.  The next time you feel anger, fear, resentment, worry, guilt, or pain, invite it over for dinner… and be astounded by how peacefully and completely it leaves.  Knowing that we can transform these emotions is a gift.  Let’s use it…

 

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