There's a popular saying here in Colorado: If you don't like the weather, wait 15 minutes, and it's completely true. As my sons and I were driving home from town the other day, the sunshine turned into a slight drizzle, which then turned into pouring rain, and within a nanosecond, as if a wizard had waved his magic wand, we were driving through fat snowflakes. We arrived home to a white yard, which melted back to green within 15 minutes. If you don't like it, it will pass. If you like it, it will pass as well.
So it goes with your emotions. Or at least how your emotional system is meant to run. If you watch a young child before they've learned to temper their feelings, you'll see the brilliance of the healthy heart at play. He can be ecstatically happy about playing a game, then fly into a wild rage of frustration if his big brother interferes, cry a fantastic cry, then clear the storm and laugh like sunshine again - all within the span of fifteen minutes. Just like Colorado weather!
Unfortunately, by the time we're grownups, we have false beliefs that impinge on our heart-system from running smoothly. The key to rectifying the damaged system (and most people's emotional systems sustained damaged as a result of a cultural message that teaches young kids to "get over it" before they have a chance to express their feelings to completion) is to remind yourself that feelings can't hurt you and they won't last forever.
The most common belief I hear from clients about why they resist feeling their pain is that they're afraid if they open the waterworks, the tears will never stop. This is obviously a lie designed to protect you from feeling the pain, but if you can address the underlying false belief that says that you can't handle it, you'll be able to soften the barriers and open to the pain that needs to emerge.
If you're a parent, it's important to allow your kids to see you embracing the wide range of emotions. When my older son was young, his high sensitivity prevented him from being able to witness my pain, but as he grew older and his threshold for tolerating the pain of life expanded, his sensitivity inspired in him a well of empathy and true caring. Now when he sees me crying or in any kind of discomfort, he asks what's wrong but doesn't try to take it away.
When the recent floods destroyed our land and my boys saw me crying at least once a day for several weeks, I would hug them and simply explain, "Crying gets the sad out." And the crying spells would never last long. Within 10 to 15 minutes I was back playing with them or helping my husband clean up. Just like Colorado weather. Through watching the fully expressed process of my own pain, I hope to teach them that they can handle theirs.
Likewise, good feelings inevitably pass like pillowy clouds across a crystalline sky. We try to grasp hold, memorizing the happy moments and grabbing on in a desperate embrace, but it never works. Our emotional bodies are rivers that are in constant motion; you'll never stand at the same spot twice. One of the secrets to a life well-lived, where you can balance on the canoe of serenity, is to accept that the heart is a changing, living, breathing entity that isn't meant to stagnate in one spot. The happy moments pass; the sad moments pass.
The witness mind observes it all with a measure of objectivity while diving full body and heart into the emotional experience of each moment. Only then can we dance into the center of our lives without fear of what may come next.
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