Why do we do what we do?
The shortest and simplest answer will probably be: we do what we do in order to feel better. But then what does feeling better mean? How does it work? And why is it that sometimes we do all these things and at the end instead of actually feeling better, we just set another goal to chase after so we can feel better?
Truth is nobody sat down to teach us how to feel better in the way they did with maths, literature and physics. In the absence of such emotional education, what we are usually left with are the models we picked up from parents and environment. I don’t know about you, but based on those my defaults were something like:
- “Shape up and do what you gotta do, use your will to override your emotions.”
- “If something feels really bad, don’t pay attention to it. If you can’t, distract yourself with more work, an ice-cream or a drink in the evening.”
In the last 2 years of my life I set on a mission to explore what would actually feel like a happy fulfilling life for me. I ended up in one of the largest wellbeing communities in the world – Ubud, Bali. It was there that I fully understood the price I was paying for those defaults. There was a war going on within me, between my emotions and willpower. They were pointing in different directions and I didn’t know what to do with that. The result was going in circles, feeling drained out of my energy and self-damaging behaviours. One of the most amazing gifts Bali gave me was the way out of this war, i.e. the emotional education I never knew I needed so bad. Although there is a lot to be shared on this topic, I’d like to share what I consider to be the two most important principles:
Principle 1: Any energy is welcome
One of the core principles of the powerful practice of authentic relating. Emotions are a form of energy moving through our bodies (other examples are bodily sensations, thoughts, visions etc). Energy is never lost – it will flow when allowed to do so and will get stuck when resisted. What that statement means when it comes to emotions is: whenever an emotion rises within you, welcome it, get curious and explore it. Allow it to be there, to unfold, to exist. If you notice resistance to it, explore that too and let it soften and disperse so you can face the actual emotion. Ask yourself what that emotion wants to tell you, how does it serve you. Accept it as part of you.
Principle 2: Work on shifting your emotions when you are calm, not when you are triggered and feel bad
This one I picked up through life coaching, which helped me open up to experience states of being I didn’t even know existed. We might not be able to control our ups and downs as they unfold, but through regular exercise we can shift the default emotions we keep going back to. Emotions like gratitude, love, joy, passion, empowerment can be trained and strengthened, just like a muscle in your body. And just like with muscles, you don’t do it when you are sick and your whole being is aching. You take a calm healthy moment and you create a space for yourself to practice.
Although the two principles work beautifully together, I found that it’s important to learn to see and accept what is actually going on within you before embarking on the quest of shifting it. Which is why I’d recommend you to integrate the principle of ‘any energy is welcome’ first. Here are some points that might help you do that:
Welcome any energy within yourself
Get curious and explore your inner world. See what happens when you direct your attention to your emotions. Stay with the positive and indulge in it, see what happens. Stay with the negative and see if you can release your resistance to it and get curious about the way it’s serving you. If it still bothers you, just take a deep breath and tell it that it’s welcome to stay as long as it wants. That’s especially important if you have something big coming up that is making you anxious. Remind yourself that as you welcome that energy and allow it to be voiced, others will be able to trust and relate to you on a deeper level. By giving it permission within yourself, you also give others’ anxieties and darker sides permission and true bonding can occur.
Welcome any energy within others
When others feel bad, you can either help them (and yourself) feel worse by telling them it’s wrong for them to feel that way or you can try to understand, be compassionate and be with them in their world. Do your best to be welcoming and not take things personal. If they are triggered by you, it’s their business, if you are triggered by them, it’s your business. No one can ‘make’ another feel a certain way, we all have the choice of how we respond to one another and all it takes is to get curious about our experience and own it. In other words, if you are in a conflict, you are both given an opportunity to understand how you react to certain emotions and reshape it. The upset person in front of you is a gift for you to step into higher awareness. Welcome it.
Zoom out and see the wider context
It might sound obvious, but sometimes it’s easy to forget that everyone experienced hard times just as we do. When we see others buzzing around seemingly doing OK, we can get into a space of feeling alone because it seems we are the only ones feeling bad, so what’s wrong with us?
I used to see emotions as something I have or the person in front of me has or we have together. A vision I recently had in a shamanic journey helped me put things in perspective. In it, I saw rage evaporating from the bodies of some dinosaurs who were asleep. The rage ascended towards the clouds and formed a huge storm that woke them up so we danced together in celebration of the raging storm that was coming and its raw power.
Through that image, for the first time I saw the emotions I was feeling as part of a natural cycle. Just like water they could move through our bodies, evaporate, go back into the atmosphere, rain down and get integrated back into our bodies where they would cycle through until they evaporate again. I saw all living beings as a part of a larger natural system in which we have our specific place and job to do, allowing emotional energy to move through us, instead of looking at it as ‘our own’ to keep and deal with. In such context, it becomes a form of service to the collective rather than a way of judging ourselves for being ‘broken’ for feeling a certain way.
To sum it up, I’d like to invite you to try it out for yourself. Next time you feel troubled in any way, remember the principle of “welcoming any energy” – get curious, allow it, explore what it means for you. See what happens when you allow it rather than resist it. Give that space to others who feel down whenever you have the chance. And remember that:
Whatever it is you are feeling is your service to the collective, which needs the storm just as much as it needs the sunshine!
If you are interested in learning to work with your emotions in the context of authentic relating (welcoming and exploring them as they are) or coaching (learning how to shift your defaults by building up a personal practice), reach out to me. I hold such spaces both online and offline and am happy to support anyone who wants to venture in the wild territory of emotions and learn how to master them.
About The Paradise Vlog
I believe we already are in paradise, regardless of where we are and what’s going on in our lives. I believe life is a journey towards becoming aware of this and enjoying as much of it as we can in the limited amount of time we have here. The ‘The Paradise Vlog’ youtube channel is the space where I share my process of shedding patterns and beliefs that obstruct our view in order to replace them with presence, joy and wonder. It’s also my invitation to you – an invitation to connect and journey together in creative ways, as we help each other see through to the greatest expression of ourselves. I also love creating spaces for growth-oriented people to connect to their soul power and life purpose. I do that in the form of coaching, shamanic work and workshops. Reach out if you feel curious to explore these topics with me.