Our lives are a mosaic of emotions, a beautiful symphony of experiences that make up the melody of our existence. Yet, societal and cultural influences, like advertising and Hollywood, have often portrayed happiness as the sole emotion worth pursuing. In this article, we're going to explore why life is about embracing the full spectrum of human emotions – both the big and the small, pleasant and unpleasant.
Why all emotions are equal
Imagine life as a big emotional orchestra. Within this ensemble, every emotion – be it joy, sadness, anger, fear, or surprise – holds its unique place and purpose. While some emotions may be less enjoyable to experience, they all contribute to the composition of a life authentic to us. Emotions, in essence, act as the GPS of our inner world.
Anger can signal that it's time to reassess our boundaries, while jealousy serves as a guide to our desires. Fear acts as a protective ally, and hope ignites our drive to establish and chase after our aspirations. In the words of Tremper Longman, "Emotions give the heart a voice." By leaning into our emotions and attentively listening to the wisdom they offer, we discover the path to living authentically to our values; and it’s there where we find freedom.
Emotions are energy in motion
As John Bradshaw said, "Emotions are energy in motion. If they're not let out, they stay stuck." So emotions need to flow. And for them to flow we need to sit with them, feel them and understand what they are trying to teach us.
After processing an emotion, we can shift our energy. Say you are grappling with anger, you can actively release that energy through techniques like shaking. To shift your anxiety, grounding yourself in nature can offer relief. And for moments of sadness, offering yourself a hug can be a simple yet powerful act of self-compassion.
Avoidance is the root cause of suffering
In our quest for happiness, we often sidestep unpleasant emotions and yearn for an uninterrupted state of joy. Paradoxically, by avoiding these less pleasant emotions, we're actually causing ourselves pain. Life is a mix of light and dark, and ignoring the dark parts means we miss out on a big piece of the puzzle.
Freedom lies in our willingness to honor, accept, and validate all our emotions. As we've discussed above, every emotion holds intrinsic value. Suffering arises when we resist the reality of our feelings and yearn for a different emotional state. By not allowing ourselves to feel it all we also do not grant ourselves with the wisdom each emotion carries. True liberation comes when we embrace the entirety of our emotional spectrum: to live freely and fully, we've got to welcome them all.
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