There was something that was bothering me for years now, but I couldn’t find what it was! You know like when you feel ok, but something isn’t that right like it supposed to be. Do you know what I mean?
It’s been a few years now since I started my self-discovery journey and it brings more and more things to explore everyday. We are very complicated creatures and we have one super powerful tool which separates us from the animals, but not that helpful in some cases. I am talking about the human brain and how fascinating it is. It can create the most complicated machines that can take us right up in the sky, but often can’t deal with the thoughts and emotions when it comes to dealing with our personal life issues.
You might think differently, but I believe that our thoughts and emotions are one of the most difficult things to handle. But let’s start from the beginning.
It took me years to become a pretty happy and very positive person, some more time to acknowledge and accept that, and just a short second to believe that I can’t feel anything else. I made myself believe that happy and positive people don’t have negative emotions, bad days, or moments when they want to scream and shout. And when I was angry or sad I was feeling ashamed, and tried to get rid of those emotions ASAP to go back to being happy and positive again.
And you know, it becomes an automatic reaction when you constantly hear ‘just get over it’, ‘it’s nothing’, ‘it could be worse’, ‘at least you have…’, ‘you are too sensitive’ and other very CHEERFUL phrases from your close ones. So I thought that I handled it very well and solved all my problems.
I remember the first moment when I felt a need to disconnect from being too emotional when my parents divorced. I was around 15 years old. It was an unpleasant and deeply shocking surprise for me, but I tried to stay strong for both of them and for my younger brother. It was a real war zone, but I don’t think that I even cried at that time. I think I wanted to be a support for all of my family and didn’t want to show my own feelings. Which I guess I learned that from my father as he never showed his real emotions. He was always telling that everything is ok, we need to suck it up and move on. And as a young human being you learn from those who are around you, even if the example is not the best.
So that was the beginning how over the years I created so many layers of fear and anger, confusion and sadness followed by unworthiness, low self esteem, thoughts about being not lovable, not pretty enough, not good enough, not enough in general. So so so many negative thoughts about myself and my life were covered up behind the cheerful smile.
Psychologist Carl Jung says ‘what you resist persists’, it doesn’t go away, just grow in size. And it grew. But I just kept running away from it. Not far really. To the fridge and back on the sofa for a marathon of Modern Family (third time in a row).
From a young and energised human being, I became a lazy, depressed and anxious person, who was sabotaging herself, migrated to another country and destroyed even her relationship just to run away from the pressure of uncovering her ‘imperfections’, opening up and solving her problems.
Stop, spot and never ignore
I think we all have that time in our lives, when we hear a very silent voice or some kind of sign coming from within. So one day I accidentally came across terms binge eating, overeating and other eating disorders, I got interested and when I read more about it, I noticed that I kinda read about myself.
Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t spotted the same minute I read the article, it took me some time to realise that. And when I started to find out the reason why I binge, what kind of emotions I feel when I grab that third family pack of crisps, or why I eat those cookies even when I’m already feeling full and sick, I discovered a really pretty Pandora’s box over there.
Negative emotions feel very unnatural and make you feel uncomfortable, so that moment our brain comes to the rescue. It tries to protect us and to make us feel better by going back to the SAFE zone. To that zone where we wouldn’t feel discomfort (or in other words – comfort zone).
There are a few different ways which I was using unconsciously when I was facing those negative emotions:
- Denying it, or pretending that I wasn’t feeling that way. I showed to myself and to the world that I got everything together. And I also tried to disconnect from the emotion (and from life itself) with feeling neutral, empty inside. Like nothing happened. Like it doesn’t hurt at all.
- I was also (literally) running away from it. Distracting myself with unnecessary shopping, endlessly scrolling down the social media, non-stop watching TV shows, eating and overeating foods or engaging into other activities so I wouldn’t have to feel it.
- Or another way of dealing with negative emotions was trying to control and manipulate. I forced myself to feel better. I tried to control every bit around me (from the book position on the shelf to telling what other people should do).
The thing is that we all know that it’s impossible to avoid negative thoughts and emotions. It happens to everyone every single day. It’s just this ignoring and resisting is where all the bad things start.
Sometimes it’s ok to keep yourself out of dealing with reality, but often we don’t come back to those emotions, we don’t really come back and have a deeper look to the cause. It stays there for weeks, months or years unsolved, unrecognised. And they don’t go away. They multiply. And sooner or later they will come back.
Food was my way out, an escape from thinking negative thoughts about myself. Eating was a distraction from dealing with the situations that felt hard and I thought I am not capable of dealing with.
So what can you do to get out of this circle?
There is a very good poem name ‘The Guest House’ written by my favourite poet Jalaluddin al-Rumi, which explains it all:
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’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
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 whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
This poem is a real blessing. In a few words it teaches how to deal with negative emotions:
- be mindful about all that life brings to you. Life is full of surprises, it brings you unique experiences every minute, so why resist it when you can let it go and be here with you.
- be open and greet each and every emotion with a little bit of faith and compassion. No matter how hard you will try to ignore what you feel, you will feel it anyway. It is going to be there. So give yourself and a new emotion a little bit of love. It needs your love.
- instead of turning your back to it – acknowledge it and accept it. You don’t have to ignore it, you don’t have to fight it, you don’t have to do anything. Just accept as it comes. And see how quickly it goes away.
Feeling negative emotions is as natural as eating and sleeping. Heartbreaks suck, losing a job is fearful, dark rooms are scary, people disappoint sometimes, and you are allowed to cry if your dreams do not come true.
Everything that we think and feel is a part of us. It is a part of our journey.
Everything that we discover about ourselves is extraordinary.
Each and everyone of us have some parts that we don’t like, that we feel ashamed of, that we judge too much. But it is what it is. The more you resist it, the more you think about it, the more it comes back to you and asks your attention.
But if you inhale, open your heart and let your love, compassion and forgiveness run through that negative thought or feeling. Let it melt through your body. Sit with it, accept its being. You will see how small and powerless it is. And how light and joyful you become.
Be brave enough to be open for the world and everything that it brings to you.
Send you loads of love