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Challenging emotions: learn to accept and let them go

Maybe you have come this far because you are tired of fighting against yourself…

...of letting negative emotions get the better of you all the time and preventing you from acting clearly, making the situation worse.

Because every time this happens you feel confused, lost, and can no longer rely on yourself.

Maybe you have lost your self-confidence.

You may be wondering:

How is it possible to control a powerful emotion such as anger, fear, or shame?

How is it possible to get rid of that emotion that suddenly flares up from within and pushes you to do things that, most of the time, you end up regretting?

Is there really a way to unblock this vicious circle, to learn to accept these feelings and let go of the attachment to them, without them influencing the decisions you make in your life?

Know that I understand you.

And I understand your doubts and misgivings very well, because I have been there myself.

What are emotions?

Emotions are a psychophysical reaction (involving both body and mind) to events outside or inside us, and which can be perceived as pleasant or unpleasant. 

It is the response each of us gives to perceptions of different stimuli, based on our own, unique experiences.

When faced with the same experience we feel the same emotion.

What we feel is in fact determined by something that always springs from within us.

That emotion is triggered for a reason that is ours alone: in the same situation, someone else, for example, would not have felt the same emotion such as anger. Perhaps they would have felt sadness or indifference.

But for instance, you felt anger: why?

Asking yourself this is important. 

It is not wrong to experience negative emotions.

In fact, it is not really correct to label them as 'negative', just because they are not as pleasant as those we consider 'positive'.

The term 'negative' implies that it is wrong.

…and there is nothing wrong with feeling emotions such as anger, sadness, fear, disgust, etc.,

Because every emotion, whether we like it or not, has a reason to exist for us, at that exact moment when we feel it.

Every emotion has a precise purpose and function in evolutionary terms: fear, for example, warns us of danger and serves to save us by fleeing or attacking.

Sadness gives us time to withdraw into ourselves and process an unpleasant situation.

Anger signals to us that injustice has occurred and helps us to defend ourselves.

Disgust signals us and keeps us away from something that is morally or physically negative for us.

Other emotions such as guilt, shame and envy, which are more complex than the previous ones (and also called 'secondary') are 'social' emotions and as such help us to live in correlation with others, facilitating integration and acceptance.

Every emotion, therefore, if we give ourselves the time and space to listen to it, is really important for our psychophysical well-being.

Emotions, especially the challenging ones, should be our guide, not a source of shame.

If, for example, we feel a pain inside us that destabilises us, we have a duty to listen to it.

This is a very important signal that tells us it is time to change, to take a specific action or direction.

Emotions related to joy and love, on the other hand, tell us to continue the path we are on, to do the thing that makes us feel so good again.

Therefore, learning to recognise emotions helps us to develop intuition, understood as something that goes beyond rationality.

In general, there are two main unconscious ways that define the way we react to negative emotions.

When we experience a negative emotion, our mind (if unconscious) tends to make us run away from it and repress it.

Acting in front of an emotion unconsciously (i.e. without listening to it) inevitably leads to acting on impulse.

When I was younger, this process meant 'following emotions'.

I had not identified and recognised emotions as something to be felt, listened to, experienced, described, accepted, let go of... but as an impulse, an immediate and uncontrolled reaction.

As a result, I judged myself, because I was not able to welcome and recognise them (and therefore manage them).

I felt completely out of control, and the only solution I could find was to 'bottle up' that emotion and avoid it completely, so as not to feel so weak anymore.

*It is important to know that this repression mechanism could become dangerous in the long run, because it leads to various problems such as the development of depressive states, phobias, obsessive-compulsive behavior.

By embarking on a path of personal growth, and therefore working on my awareness, I then understood all this.

I realised that what I considered weakness was not so much the fact of feeling the emotion itself, but the inability to recognise the emotion and therefore the impulse.

I realised that what I really needed was to develop intuition and connection with myself through listening without being judgmental.

Sometimes we get attached to emotions of discouragement, much more easily than those that give us joy and fulfillment.

But why is it so difficult to let go of negative emotions, and why is it more natural for us to hold back what hurts us?

Again, this is based on judgement and non-acceptance.

We don't accept the negative emotion and feel we have to fight to change or remove it.

In reality, emotions, like thoughts and any other situation that exists in nature, are and will always be something temporary.

Emotions are felt, it is impossible to deny them in order to avoid suffering.

What we can do, however, and what is in our control, is not to cause ourselves further suffering.

What does this mean?

Further suffering is the thought that we continue to have about that emotion, practicing attachment.

If you give space to the emotion, if you listen to it, inevitably you no longer feed your thoughts towards it.

In this way, we can detach ourselves from them and allow that emotion to flow within us and not get stuck.

Yes, I know... you are probably thinking right now how is this possible…

…and I will be honest: you don't come to this realisation overnight.

It's a lifelong journey. 

But if you have the right tools, you can really make a quantum leap from the current situation in which you may find yourself.

How do you welcome and let go of negative emotions?

Try to visualise this:

 A person has wronged you,

and right now you are feeling angry at them and frustrated at the injustice.

You have two options in front of you.

Either you can react and get angry, or you can look inside yourself and ask:

"What can I do to feel better? What is in my control?

Put yourself in a state of listening to the sensations that emerge.

At this point, the body comes into play.

Your hands sweat, your stomach clenches, perhaps tears flow...

Train yourself to look at yourself, to look at what is happening inside you, to see when certain emotions surface and observe them.

Then, calmly, breathe deeply and bring your attention back to your breath, reconnect with yourself.

Observe how the emotions manifest themselves in your body.

Where do you feel anger in your body?

How does it manifest itself?

What memories, moments, circumstances does it bring back?

At certain times it is not easy... and that's OK!

With the practice of observing and listening, you put aside thinking and thus learning not to judge the emotions you are experiencing, training yourself to have an external and impartial look.

So instead of repressing these feelings and preventing yourself from experiencing them, try to recognise them, sit with them, and try to feel them completely.

Only in this way can you move on to the next step, acceptance, which comes from a lack of judgment.

If you do not judge yourself, you can accept, and therefore welcome you.

If you allow yourself to feel your emotions, by giving them the right space, you will feel they begin to deflate, to lose importance.

And this is where the third step comes in: the moment when you can let go of that emotion. 

By not judging emotions and learning to see them from the outside, to live them and not repress them, you don't let them completely influence your life and therefore your decisions.

Letting go is really the turning point, the fruit of an inner process that ultimately brings peace and light within you in any situation.

Things don't have to change on the outside, because what really makes the difference is that this process changes you from within. 

Suddenly you begin to acquire a huge space to be. Free to be, do, say what you want according to your authenticity.

Once you let go, you have the freedom of choice, and you are released from the reaction dictated by your 'automatic pilot' to the stimulus received.

In conclusion...

Only when you learn, step by step, to connect with yourself, to welcome your emotions and be guided by them, to understand their message and let them go, will you be able to find within yourself the lucidity to choose for yourself and create a life based on conscious choices for your happiness.

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Learn a simple 5-step process

to help you let go of negative emotions and move forward.