July 18, 2014

How to Walk on Water: Finding Emotional Freedom.

Woman by Ocean

Christ walked on water.

Many believe it literally, perhaps he did or did not. For this blog, it is used as a metaphor. Water is commonly associated with emotions and feeling. Christ walked on his emotions, and kept his head above the waters. Rather than being drowned by emotions, he was able to move forward in the midst of stormy weather.

Emotional freedom is frightening.

Our society denigrates emotion. Emotional expression is put down and labeled as crazy. People who are emotional are avoided. Emotional outbursts are followed by intense discomfort, by the person who expresses and by those who witness it. There are emotional standards for men and women, all confounding and misguided.

Our modern world can provide contradictory information about emotions.

Somehow, people are supposed to be emotionally available while also being suave and in control. The unfortunate truth about emotions is that they are rich in scope. Emotions are positive and negative. They are not always in control, nor are they always pretty. And while it seems acceptable to express positive emotions, negative emotions and expression can turn a person into a pariah.

Expression, be it positive or negative, has influence.

It is true that negative emotions are not enjoyable to be around. People avoid me when I am having a shadow day. I don’t blame them. I want to avoid me as well—I can’t, though I’ve tried. I feel the same way about people who are stuck in their negativity. This is normal and understandable behavior, the avoidance of negative emotions.

Positive emotions are fun. People love the happy, effervescent and positive soul. When a person is bright, laughing, and full of cheer they are magnetic and people want to be around them. On the days I am bright, it is easy to meet people and make connections. It is like this for any of us.

The question is: how does a person balance the positive and negative emotions within and outward expression?

This has been a big learning curve for me. When I express my negativity I diminish myself, the people in my life, and cause harm. It really sucks, because not only am I already feeling down, my actions and emotions make it worse. The negativity becomes reinforced by how others are repulsed, and more so by how I am repulsed by my own shadow side.

Positive emotions are easy to work with. There is little to nothing to say about how to express and be present with oneself or a person who is positive. Who doesn’t love a sunny day?

When I am feeling negative, those are the times I am most in need of a hug, attention, and love. My words and actions are maladaptive, and instead drive people away. What I need is then not available. At least, not from others.

It has been my discovery that emotional freedom requires being in the midst of negativity without judgement.

And I do judge myself. Perhaps it is a learned behavior, maybe I just don’t want to face my inner ugly. I never want to feel negative or depressed. Yet it happens. Just like rain happens. Storms do occur, even when I make every effort to mitigate the scenario and take all preventative measures. Regardless, as Forest Gump so wisely said, ‘Shit Happens.’

So do shitty days.

How does a person be liberated on these days? The self-negation that comes with a dark day only perpetuates the cycle. Being around people who are judgmental about shadow emotions diminishes belief, hope and positivity.

I really wish I had a clear answer for how to be set free of negative emotions. Of the hundreds of self-help books, thousands of hours of meditation and yoga practice, countless affirmations and intentional actions to better my life … the shadow days still occur. On those days, I do not walk on water, I drown.

My discovery has been simple and profound: emotional freedom is acceptance of all emotions.

Yes, even the so-called bad ones. Problem emotions are not problems—they are opportunities to problem-solve. And just like a rainy day where one prefers to stay inside, the emotional rainy-day is a way to stay within and introspect. By facing the shadow, looking into the abyss, one may catch a glimpse of light and liberation.

It has been my error to express my emotions so openly with so many people.

The real power of emotional expression and healing resides within and with people who truly are loving.

A person who is aware of their own emotional temperature is a comfort. The soul that is at peace with the cycles of day and night, a blessing. It is within each of us to become such a person. The process requires facing the inner ugly and owning it.

In facing the emotional abyss one will have eyes stare back. It is okay. Those observing eyes are a forgotten part of our own soul, hidden in the depths, drowned and waiting to be awakened again.

It is a part of who one is, waiting to be loved, brought to the surface and liberated.

We do not learn to fly at the emotional level. Not at first.

Societal and family conditioning must be addressed. Denigration and belief structures must be faced. The authentic truth of who one is must be embraced. Self-harming tendencies of judgment, blame, shame, guilt and avoidance must be witnessed.

It is a growth process, like a seed that blooms into a tree. Small at first, then gigantic, then bearing life giving fruit.

First one learns to walk … on water. And then dance.

Everything is okay.


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Editor: Renée Picard

Image: Mizrak/Flickr Creative Commons

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