You do everything you can. Positive mindset, visualisation, affirmations, meditation, gratitude diaries……But like a smoke that slowly creeps in under a closed door, there it is once more- sadness, grief, despair and resentment…….depleting emotions.
We’ve all experienced depleting emotions. I think we can all agree that they are pretty unpleasant and we do our best to avoid them, ignore them, bury them or run away
Underlying problem is clear. We all expect life to be a positive experience. We are also expected by others to live a “positive life”. I think we can all agree that life is not a glossy filtered Instagram post skimming the surface.
So let’s get real about being authentic and learning to navigate depleting emotions. Because to deny that to depleting emotions exist within us means we spend our lives denying half of ourselves and wondering why we feel so anxious.
Let’s start by exploring our typical responses to feeling a depleting emotion.
The most common reaction is to act from that state without really understanding why.
- Feeling resentful or unappreciated at work? Perhaps you get angry with your family when you get home.
- Homelife getting you down? Perhaps then you carry that feeling to work and your underlying unacknowledged state influences your thoughts, actions and behaviours throughout your day.
Acting out from our your underlying state is a really common experience and unless we truly acknowledge how we’re feeling we are blind to our behaviours.
Other common methods of dealing with depleting emotions include
- Being excessively busy- filling our diaries to the brim, hoping if we just run fast enough we will escape it. Yet somehow creating a pile of busyness only makes us feel overwhelmed adding to the emotional turmoil.
- Numbing our experiences with food, addictions, netflix or alcohol. The downside of numbing is it also numbs our joy.
So what do we do in the presence of depleting emotions?
Let’s start by understanding that depleting emotions exist for everyone and we simply need to improve our tolerance for holding these emotions without needing to react, run away or hide. There are a couple of steps to help you build your tolerance for these emotional experiences so you can navigate your life without constant reactivity to the turmoil underneath.
Ensuring you have a stable base of health for your body mind and heart is a very simple way of building your resilience and tolerance to depleting emotions. I teach this for women with my Rise up transformation program and also on my Rise UP retreats. Without a stable healthy base, navigating and tolerating depleting emotions just becomes that much harder.
Steps to building tolerance to depleting emotions so you can navigate without running, hiding, acting out or burying things deep include:
The first step is simply to name your emotion without delving into the ruminating Rabbit hole of your story. Simply naming “I feel angry” or “I feel sad” without the story is one way of calming your own reactivity.
Then, next step, try this exercise: Take 10 minutes of relaxation time to lie on the floor. Slowly take your feeling awareness to your belly and pause there for a few breaths simply to feel in. Then slowly take your awareness to your heart space and take a few breaths to feel. Then slowly move to your throat, and finally your forehead.
Ask yourself where do I feel this? Observe where you feel your feelings. Then, rest your awareness there and simply allow it to be. Don’t fix it, run from it, change it. Surrender to allowing yourself simply to feel. Thats it. Maintain your awareness where you feel your depleting emotions and simply allow yourself to feel it.
Allowing yourself simply to feel how you feel without the story, without needing to fix, change or solve it and mindfully observing the feeling without needing to react can be one way of improving your capacity and tolerance.
Practising this simple exercise often results in the observation that emotions simply pass of their own accord with enough space.
Many of us holds the belief that if we felt our depleting emotions fully we would perhaps drown in the despair and never recover. I can recall feeling this way myself.
But the moment we surrender to the experience and simply allow it to be without the need to fix, change, conquer or ignore, means that we can build our tolerance for depleting emotions and also start to find a pathway through, instead of around.
We can acknowledge that it’s very normal experience to feel depleting emotions. Much like any pain through life, it’s very unpleasant, but it does pass. We often hold unconscious false beliefs that experiencing a depleting emotions (despair, grief, resentment, sadness) means we are failing, incapable, weak, inferior or inadequate. None of these beliefs are actually true.
Experiencing pain, suffering, despair, grief, anger, sadness or resentment are all a part of the human experience. So let’s remove the judgement. The strongest people I know can hold grief and gratitude simultaneously.
A final good question to ask is what message is my emotion giving me?
- Perhaps your sadness shares you are depleted and need to simply rest and give back to yourself for a while
- Perhaps your anger creates motivation for change, so can you create strategies with gratitude for the message?
I hope these ideas and this conversation helps you build your tolerance to depleting emotions.
These ideas are explored further in Miriam Greenspans beautiful book “Healing Through the Dark Emotions- the wisdom of grief, fear and despair”
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