The art of choosing your emotions

Last week I wrote about the art of choosing the inevitable, and particularly how I applied that to my own getting older.

I’ve had a lot of responses from people on Facebook and on my email list about the article, and a few questions that I thought I’d answer in a follow up article.

We experience so much as we live our lives day to day. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by it.

I used to expend a lot of energy running away from the emotions that arose from what I experienced.

Emotions I didn’t know how to deal with like shame and guilt. Emotions I thought were bad like anger and resentment.

I tried to control them, to push away from them. To deny them. And I ended up in mess. Then I tried accepting them, and that helped, but I still found myself in knots.

A lot of the people who come to me are initially the same.

Choosing to do something different

Some 10 years ago, I started applying what I’d been practicing with my birthdays, choosing to get older, to my emotions.

I thought, ‘what if I chose this emotion?’. The first one was sadness - I kept experiencing a deep grief in my body that I didn’t really know how to understand or to handle.

So I chose it. I chose to feel this deep grieving, even though I didn’t know what it was or exactly where it was coming from.

I chose to feel my emotions

There was a key assumption that helped me with it: what if this feeling is exactly what I need to feel and go through in order to reach my full potential?

So I dove in. It was a painful process. It was in the deep end. In retrospect it would have been useful to practice this method on something not quite as big. Then again, maybe I wouldn’t have learnt what I learnt so deeply.

It was a transformational experience. It did take some time. A lot needed to be moved through.

In choosing the emotion, I was able to feel it in a way that it no longer felt overwhelming. I had room to move.

Now I choose any emotion that comes up in me. Anger, judgement, resentment, shame, guilt, depression.

Get in the drivers seat of your emotions

What happens is that the emotion no longer controls me. When I run from it, I unconsciously act out the emotion. When I choose it, I step into it, get real with it, am able to see it and be aware of how I’m expressing it.

choose your emotionsIt’s not always comfortable. And choosing it doesn’t mean I like it.

But I embrace it.

I learn from it. I assume anything I feel is a teacher. And I can learn about what’s really going on for me, what’s happening in the depths of my mind and body.

This practice opens up a world of inner wisdom.

In choosing my emotions they shift and transform a lot quicker than when I run from them. And a lot quicker than what I just accept them.

Don't accept, choose

When I practiced accepting my emotions, there was still 'wriggle room'. I didn't have to fully own it. In choosing them I come to fully owning what I'm feeling, that I'm fully responsible for how I respond to what I'm feeling.

So I bring myself into being the master, not the mastered.

How does or would it feel to choose whatever you're feeling right now?