Emotions are a part of life and the human experience. Emotions accompany us through life. A new color palette is given to us by our emotional nature. As stated in the previous post on this subject, feeling capability is more significant than an emotion itself, but certainly the range of human emotion is a valuable human attribute.

The question that remains is: Do you stay within the confines of an afflictive emotion, or strive for the meta state of feeling with all its possibilities? The short answer is, both.

There’s validity to work with an afflictive emotion directly. Most of us are in serious need of emotional healing. It seems emotions, though unique to humans (in the fullest sense), are difficult for us. We’re in hot water when it comes to emotions. One way to get out of hot water, or at least make it lukewarm, is to work with an afflictive emotion directly, to face it, understand it and make friends with it.

There are many methodologies for this. This discussion is about the intricacies of actually doing so, not the how.

Disallowing the emotion, ignoring it, coating it with something else, or replacing it is avoidance, a form of denial. One major element of emotion is that it provides feedback. We don’t want to miss out on that!

An emotion is a field of information. Negative or difficult emotions perhaps more so. Anger or sadness holds the potential to yield layers of self-awareness.

“Afflictive” means that which brings harm or suffering. As long as it’s done with awareness, it can be revealing and healing to stay a while with such an emotion.

Stay with it an hour or a day, knowing full well you’re allowing this to happen, that it’s a learning experience. Of course there are times when the emotion is utterly dominant, awareness is subdued, and there are behaviors and associated dynamics that keep you in the grips of an emotion. In such a situation you extract yourself as soon as possible and put the light of awareness on the experience.

Hopefully, your relationship with awareness is strong enough that the spiral down into the goo of an emotion doesn’t occur. And we’re working from a premise that you’ve healed emotionally to some degree.

Emotional wellness is a threshold state. It launches the next stages of personal and spiritual growth. If you’re relating to life from the ‘drama’ of emotion, then awareness hasn’t been freed up enough to give you any kind of perspective.

If, however, your emotional heart is in a more wholed state and self-awareness is a routine part of your daily consciousness, then when difficult emotions arise (they still do and will), you can go with it. This allows you to feel what you’re feeling and see what it may teach you. It’s also one way to prevent what’s called ‘spiritual bypassing’ where rather than deal with it, you go around or over it and reach some kind of ‘better’ feeling, while the original emotion festers and will surface again, sometimes in explosive ways.

Emotions add color and variance to life, but they can also land us in hot water. How long and in what manner we dwell in an emotion is a key factor. Since there’s a lot of subtlety involved, this subject will be continued in several more posts…

All emotions are pure which gather you and lift you up; that emotion is impure which seizes only one side of your being and so distorts you.

— Rainer Maria Rilke

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Emotions: To dwell or not to dwell?