Emotions - Friends or Foes?
Let’s take a different perspective on what they’re about
There’s a lot, and a little discussion about emotions.
By this I mean, there’s lots of different perspectives, but not enough open discussion in culture and everyday spaces.
My perspective, understanding and relationship to my own emotions has expanded and evolved in different ways, as my understanding and exploration of myself deepens.
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Within the Personal Development and Spiritual space, emotions are often referred to as ‘e-motion—energy in motion‘, and this is definitely what they are in a fundamental sense, but what are they in terms of their purpose?
Do they have a purpose?
Well, it’s only been the last year that I’ve really come to understand that they most certainly have a purpose, and to understand that purpose we must first take them out of the container of being solely one dimensional and being about mental health, and look at them from the perspective of our experience on Earth being Spiritual beings having a physical experience.
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What if our emotions were actually just an indicator of how much of our truth we are living?
I mean this is every sense of the word.
How much we’re speaking our truth, how much we are doing our truth, how much we are feeling our truth, how much we are expressing our truth, how much we are practicing our truth, how much we are LIVING our truth, in any particular moment.
So, let me give you an example.
Just over two years ago, I ended a 3 year relationship that on the outside ticked a lot of boxes, but on the inside left me lifeless. When I broke up with my ex, I remember specifically saying that I had no life energy left, and nothing left to give.
It was probably the lowest point I had ever been in.
I was having panic attacks leading up to it, I had lost weight quite suddenly, I was so restless, I couldn’t meditate, I didn’t want to go out, I had absolutely NO sense of who I was anymore, and had developed a ridiculously strong belief that I wasn’t a good partner or lover.
I was a complete mess.
On top of all of that, breaking up would mean I’d have no car, nowhere to go, no capacity to apply for a place (I was investing online at the time as my income and real estate agents wouldn’t take that as a secure income), I’d drifted from a lot of my friends, and honestly felt like I was about to lose everything externally that had provided any sense of familiarity and safety, when I had already lost everything internally.
This was such an emotional time for me, and looking back on it now I have a completely different perspective on my emotions, anxiety and panic attacks to even six months ago about it all.
At the time, I just thought I was emotional (understandably) because of everything that was happening, but now when I reflect, I realise it actually was much deeper than that.
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Firstly, a lot of what was coming out was just the built up emotional internal stuff I was trying to suppress because I didn’t want it to be true. I was releasing the emotional overflow, but not the entire emotional content of what was inside.
And what was inside had become a build up of things I had not said, emotions I had not felt, boundaries I did not set, truths I denied, fears I was too scared to face, and so many other things.
I felt like over the three year period I completely dismissed my own truths in an attempt to make my partner happy.
I wasn’t just emotional because I was ending it. I was emotional because of all the things I wished I had done, felt, or expressed.
I knew I should’ve ended that relationship sooner.
I knew I should’ve set clearer boundaries for my partner and for myself.
I knew I should’ve made it clearer about what was ACTUALLY a priority to me, how I wanted to spend my time, and who I wanted to spend it with.
There were so many things.
And over the three year period, little by little, it started to add up.
And each time I didn’t speak my truth, it would come with an emotion that I would quickly suppress because ”it wasn’t a big deal” or I didn’t want to do what my intuition was telling me I should.
So, slowly, slowly feelings of resentment, frustration, sadness, rejection, loneliness, unworthiness, negligence, anger, abuse, and overwhelm would start building up inside of me.
And, all of them were just energy in motion.
And when energy is not in motion, it becomes stagnant.
It no longer flows and just lingers.
It builds up within us.
As I mentioned, the state of being I was in at the end of the three years, wasn’t just because we were breaking up, it was the accumulation of all of those emotions never being respected, acknowledged and expressed healthily over the three years (and potentially have earlier accumulative roots back to my childhood).
And each time those emotions came up, I didn’t want to listen to them or accept them so I’d shut them off.
And now I’ve come to realise, all they were telling me each time, was to BE my truth.
So, let me give a more specific example.
My ex had an extremely high sex drive.
I do too, but for me, what feeds that sex drive is mental and emotional connection.
Sure, I can have sex for the pure physical pleasure a few times, but regularly in a relationship? Absolutely not.
For her, it was the other way around—the sex provided the mental and emotional connection.
This would mean, when she was feeling disconnected to me, she’d want sex, and when I felt disconnected, I wanted a vulnerable, open, thought-provoking conversation.
I realised quite quickly that when it came to having what I would consider thought-provoking conversations, she wasn’t able to be my sparring partner. But I put aside that requirement because relationships are all about compromise, right? (Notice, this actually isn’t compromise because it didn’t become something we discussed for the purposes of resolving.)
So, obviously that meant, from the earlier stages of our relationship, I didn’t speak my truth and voice the fact that this was extremely important for me, what I needed and completely non-negotiable. Which would mean, from early on, I would have moments of feeling disconnected from her, but because I realised she couldn’t give me what I wanted in that department, I developed a sense of hopelessness, sadness, and an accumulating degree of ‘giving up‘ on that matter—none of which I expressed properly, or respected as signs that I wasn’t being truthful to myself.
Then, night time would come, and in a desire to feel connected to me she’d do what any partner would feel comfortable doing by this point, and start putting her hands on my body, indicating she wanted an experience of intimacy.
Sometimes, I genuinely wasn’t in the mood. I either needed that connection first, or maybe I was just having a bad day and something was on my mind.
And in those times when I wasn’t in the mood, I’d either go along with it because I knew that’s what she wanted (disregarding and disrepecting my own truth; my body is not something people are entitled to, not even a partner), or give the impression I wasn’t in the mood by being disengaged and not really moving as much as I normally would.
But still, at times, she would keep giving me all the signs of what she was getting at and it was extremely obvious she really wanted it to keep progressing.
So I would go ahead and do what I thought a partner should do—sexually satisfy my partner, because, that’s part of what we’re there for, right?
*Side note* Just to clarify, that is absolutely NOT what you are there for. Yes, it can be a part of people’s relationships but that in NO WAY suggests that your ROLE is to sexually satisfy your partner when THEY want if you don’t want to just because you’re in a relationship.
And so, once we were done, I could feel a deep sense of sadness, loneliness, and disregard for myself which made me feel horrible inside, but of course I’d ignore it and shut it off.
This didn’t happen too frequently at the beginning, but over time it happened enough times and contributed greately to me feeling as though I was only there for her needs and not my own (because I didn’t speak my truth, set boundaries, or be completely open about everything to myself and to her).
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In this example, the emotions of sadness after sex that I didn’t want to have, or even the sadness from feeling disconnected to my ex, were emotions trying to tell me that THAT was how I was feeling emotionally.
This was one layer of truth I was not respecting—the truth of the emotions that it brought up and therefore allowing myself to express them fully.
But the other layer of truth, was the truth I did not live in the moment BEFORE the emotion, the truth that I wasn’t DOING what I wanted to be doing (which includes, NOT doing sex, and going to sleep instead or having a conversation).
So there was the emotional indicator (truth) that I was denying, AND there was the DOING part of my truth that I was not engaging in.
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The emotions were a sign that I should DO something differently, that I should LIVE my truth via my actions and decisions.
That I should be clear and state that I wasn’t wanting to have sex that night.
That I should take a more active role in speaking to her and telling her how important mental connection is and finding a way that works for the both of us for me to get it.
That I should’ve taken her hands off my body and said they, as guests, were not welcome into the gates of my temple in that moment.
That I should’ve turned around immediately the first time I felt her eagerness imposing itself on me, and made it extremely clear that wasn’t acceptable.
Every time an emotion came up it was because the moment before I had completely not lived my truth.
They were trying to be of service to me, to help me recognise my own truth within that moment.
And if I had acknowledged them immediately from the perspective they are there as an indicator that I am not DOING/BEING my truth, they probably wouldn’t have even needed to be felt because there wouldn’t have been an accumulation of them inside of me and therefore not felt as overwhelming or significant.
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This may seem like an extreme example, and I don’t want, in any way, to demonise my ex or make her out as the bad guy.
Relationships are full of complexity, and involve two people having two different experiences from two different perspectives.
She was (and I’m sure still is) an exceptional woman and never did anything intentionally to hurt me or make me feel uncomfortable.
Do not think the small glimpses I am sharing with you from my perspective reflect her as a person or partner.
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That was one of my examples.
But I want you to consider your own.
I am sure if you sat there and considered your own life, you would probably have an entire library of moments in where something has happened in one moment, an emotion came up, you ignored it and kept going.
We all do if we’re honest with ourselves.
But now you’re at this part of this article and have this perspective to consider, I encourage you to think of a time in the recent past that you ignored your emotional response to a situation and suppressed the energy in motion.
What was the emotion trying to tell YOU.
By this I mean, if you think of a recent time you felt rejected by someone, or ignored, which therefore made you feel sadness that you didn’t express fully, was the accumulative aftermath of emotion purely the sadness from being ignored, or is it possible that the sadness actually was an indicator that you weren’t speaking your truth IN the moment immediately and saying something like “hey, I’m speaking and want your full attention, this is important to me” Or “I can see you’re not paying attention, I really want to talk about this with you, when can we talk?”
Maybe the sadness came afterwards, as a result of the rejection you were ignoring.
I don’t know.
But if you take some time to yourself to honestly reflect on it, you will begin to find the truth of what really went on for you, and how those emotions were actually being of service to you.
Every situation is different, and it is only for you to honestly reflect, without judgment of yourself, and ACCEPT the truth of what was and is about that situation for YOU.
This is about YOUR truth, not assumptions about the other person’s perspective, motivations, actions or intentions.
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If we just learnt to FEEL our emotions fully and express them, they wouldn’t build up inside us and we wouldn’t have so much baggage to carry around. And if we came from the perspective that an emotion is just a guidance system to bring us back to our truest expression (which is our most fulfilled state of being), how liberated would we feel?
How easier would it be to navigate difficult situations and people? They wouldn’t even be considered difficult anymore because any feeling of discomfort would be immediately recognised, accepted, acknowledged as a sign that we are not doing something in alignment with our truth, reflected upon to realise what that is, then take appropriate action to DO the truth.
They’re basically the steps.
I encourage you to think about this, experiment with it, play with it, find your own truth from it.
This perspective has made me feel extremely liberated from my own emotions, empowered in emotional situations and welcoming when emotions come up.
I have not mastered this perspective in every situation, but the more I release from my past, the easier and more automated this becomes.
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Don’t be scared to explore your internal world, it is the home to all of life’s most complicated answers.