Creating Emotional Sovereignty

Our emotions can rule our lives.  Imagine each emotion as a rock placed into one’s backpack.  Each rock has an emotion written on it.  These feelings can range in size and significance.  Emotions such as resentment, anger, anxiety, fear, despair, or embarrassment on our back that one carries in a “mental satchel.”  These emotions create stress and tension showing up in the physical body as symptoms such as headaches, tension, or stomach issues. In addition, if these emotions are stuffed away in one’s backpack, not exposed to light a shadow symptom manifests, creating residual harm to ourselves and potentially others as we navigate this human experience.  Just as a cluttered house may result in a cluttered life, one finds a constant grappling with so many emotional visitors. Through this mental clutter one loses sight of their inherent nature- lightness of being.

As children we may remember walking with a lighter and carefree essence.  There was more time to play, imagine and dream.  By developing some “mental feng shui” one can invite these emotions into one’s home as the poet Rumi reminds us in the poem “The Guest House” that  “We can entertain them all.” The following strategies allow us to return to our inherent lightness and regain emotional sovereignty.

  1. Take Each Rock Out of the Mental Satchel and Hold It– Imagine taking each emotion out into the light and holding it with compassion.  This act of lovingkindness investigation and taking stock of what is in one’s backpack, one emotion at a time moves the process from denial to acknowledgement.

Activity for step one: Journaling to arrive at the heart of the matter is a cathartic process.  Exposing the emotion on paper has the potential to expose what Carl Jung referred to as the “Prima Materia”.  This is a spark of raw material we may find to expose the deeper callings of our heart.

  1. Release the Rock- By merely realizing that all rocks are thoughts and thoughts come and go and are transitory, we can reaffirm to ourselves that these are imaginary rocks. When one insight towards an emotion turns towards supportive realization the weight of the backpack changes.

Activity for step two:  Meditation allows one to observe the transitory nature of the mind.  By going inward and imagining at that moment we are cradling a sensitive emotion and the in the next moment releasing with non-harm we create personal agency.

  1. Make Time for Play, Rest and Use of the Imagination- What activities drop awareness right into the present moment?  These activities may entail something as simple as time for tea or the pastimes of sport, dance, or time in nature. When we start to engage the mind in a creative way instead of a habitual way we move away from a fight or flight response and in a direction of emotional bandwidth which creates a stronger ability to manage one’s emotions.

Activity for step three: This personal list of pastimes for each individual will be unique.  Become familiar with what brings you joy by making this list and ensuring these activities are part of each week.

By exposing, feeling, and releasing these emotions one grows exponentially.  As the poet Rumi expressed; “Even if they are a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture; still, treat each guest honorably.  He may be clearing you out for some new delight.”

It is difficult to imagine that uncomfortable emotions might not be the obstacle on our path; yet, the beginning of a path towards growth.

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