Author Topic: Struggling with allowing myself to feel negative emotions  (Read 3799 times)

Ja192827

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Struggling with allowing myself to feel negative emotions
« on: July 31, 2016, 05:03:35 PM »
I understand that a key component of mindfulness is allowing yourself to fully feel emotions.  I constantly feel stress in my life, and it seems to me, that if I allow myself to feel the effects of stress, this is not the right way to reduce it in my life.  It seems that I should be telling myself that the particular event that is stressing me out is "no big deal," to try to see the positive side of things, and to tell myself to tough it out, as that is what a "normal person" would do.

A quote I have recently heard is by Eleanor Roosevelt: "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." 

If I allow myself to feel the feeling of being inferior as mindfulness appears to recommend, how can this be a good thing?

To give an example, a long time friend doesn't invite me to be a a groomsman in his wedding, and it hurts. Or as I pour my heart out to someone, they constantly check their cell phone.  If I were to allow myself to feel the hurt, wouldn't that be counterproductive, and set the stage for me to feel the same way the next time it happened?

Of course, if someone close to us is very ill or passes on, I understand that allowing ourselves to feel bad is necessary. If we bottle up some of our emotions, it will result in illness and the feelings will come back with a vengeance anyway, and it will come out sooner or later.

Hoping to get some input on this issue, as I am very open to seeing things in a different way.


Attachless

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Re: Struggling with allowing myself to feel negative emotions
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2016, 05:41:13 PM »
If we don`t judge emotions as "negative", and be mindful of emotions as they arise - we then see that, e.g. if there is this emotion of inferiority arising, we can cognize it, as being there. Mindfulness then "says": Oh, there is inferioirity because of this or that event. Or stress because of this or that. Friend picks up his cell phone when I speak my heart out, "this" and "that" is perceived. Then we could go and ask ourselves, why we react with these emotions to these events the way we do? Do we seek approval of others and feel bad/ less of worth if we don`t get it? Do we approve of ourselves enough? Do we get sucked in non-approval or can we just perceive it and let it be and instead approve of ourselves anyway? Etc.

If you feel stress (job, social events, something else), you could become aware of that and then ask yourself "why that is". What could be done? Work less, get a less stressful job? A more meaningful job? Become socially more relaxed as to make social situations stress you less? We should not believe (atleast I don`t), being mindful does all the trick. First we become mindful, and then we can act accordingly, if action is necessary to be taken - or refrain from action (e.g. hate is felt, but not blindly acted upon etc.). Sometimes the act of becoming aware of / mindful of does the trick, also, e.g. when feelings of inferiority arise and we do not indulge in them or identify as them being "me" or "mine".

In terms of inferiority, I notice it`s arising, and let it be, and let it pass. By indulging in it, or repressing them ("feeling them doesn`t help anyway)  we`re ime not being helped. We are denying the very moment, which creates resistance to the fact you have feelings of inferiority triggered by certain events. It is so; I can`t give some scientific cause-effect-study that tells you why running from that is not particularily helpful and why accepting it without identifying with it as being "me" is helpful, other than my words :-P

The "right way to reduce it" would IMO be then, to become aware of, and then take correct actions / make the needed changes (if any are necessary). Ask yourself why you feel stressed, what is the cause of constant stress / feelings of inferiority, what steps could be done to change it etc. Your consent needs to be strong, to not let others determine your value / trigger a sense of inferiority in you, it is built, rather than just read in a quote and then applied as in "ah I understand - fixed." and done. Another quote could be "We cannot change who we are later if we don`t accept who we are now". Accepting all the range of emotions, thoughts and "issues", then, is the very first step, and mindfulness your companion all the long road down. Maybe in two years from now you will feel superior-issues, and you need be mindful of that and remind yourself of the sameness value all of you/us have and not live "that" out blindly, for example. :-P


If the hurt of not being the groomsmen stems from your own expectations, or the hurt of someone checking their phone of your current interpretation of that very situation (e.g. he`s checking the phone, he doesn`t listen, he doesn't care, I`m worthless bla), then feeling the feeling and cognizing it, maybe going into "why" you feel that way in the first line would most likely help you not feel that way the next time, because you don`t associate someone checking his phone while you tell him/her something something important with sense of worthlessness or not being appreciated by the other person. Or tell the other person that for you its a sign of disrespect, he may apologize because he didn`t know / it was not his intent to signalize that ... and if he then does it again intentionally and it hurts, you can take proper action. Feeling the hurt in any way doesn`t be bad, but can actually be a spring-board for resolution, proper action and growth...

Hope that helps somewhat
to be or not to be - one hardly notices the subtlety

Thomas D

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Re: Struggling with allowing myself to feel negative emotions
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2016, 07:49:07 PM »
Attachless' answer was very good.

I think maybe "normal people" either suppress their emotions, or act them out. A meditative person would not suppress the emotions, and would not act them out.

Finding that balance is hard I find. Just remember that part of the reason we formally meditate in a secluded area is to train ourselves in mindfulness in a less stressful environment.

When I am stressed it is hard to find mindfulness. I sometimes create more stress looking for mindfulness than just getting naturally upset by the circumstances.

chin

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Re: Struggling with allowing myself to feel negative emotions
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2016, 09:04:32 AM »
It seems that I should be telling myself that the particular event that is stressing me out is "no big deal," to try to see the positive side of things, and to tell myself to tough it out, as that is what a "normal person" would do.

It's a tough balance to find as @Thomas D already mentioned. I've found that telling myself that something is no big deal almost never works. The secret is to de-link your emotional reaction from the external event that occurred and recognize it as a reaction to how your mind interpreted the event and the resultant sensations it generated.

Whenever I feel emotions that I struggle with (anxiety, neediness) overpowering me, I try and observe the reaction itself with objective curiosity, I try and ask myself - what are the sensations I'm feeling at this moment, how were these triggered, why do I resist these sensations, where did they originate, why do I label them as unpleasant, let me see how long they last, ... sort of like the questions a doctor might ask to get you to describe your symptoms. Like you said "allowing myself to fully feel the emotions" but objectively rather than subjectively. Interested but not affected.

It's definitely not easy when your mind is caught up in the drama of the story it is creating, but with practice I've found the grip of these emotions to weaken.

Ja192827

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Re: Struggling with allowing myself to feel negative emotions
« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2016, 12:18:25 PM »
All three of your posts were very helpful. I feel like a weight has been taken off my chest, as I now see how I can better deal with my emotions. Thanks so much.

Re: Struggling with allowing myself to feel negative emotions
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2016, 03:10:18 PM »
Hi,

As soon as you become mindful of an emotion its intensity reduces. It becomes much easier to handle. Now become aware of the sensations that are associated with this emotions in the body. In the early stages by the time you become aware of the emotion you would have already reacted quite a lot and when you become aware you will be able to observe a thick block of undesired head ache. Observe this block with equanimity. After sometime it breaks up and you will experience taste of purification. (Long pure breaths). Its important that u keep breaking up these blocks in body to reduce the intensity of same experience next time it happens.

Ja192827

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Re: Struggling with allowing myself to feel negative emotions
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2016, 03:48:09 PM »
I just came across something in the book The Upward Spiral:

"In one fMRI study, appropriately titled “Putting Feelings into Words” participants viewed pictures of people with emotional facial expressions. Predictably, each participant’s amygdala activated to the emotions in the picture. But when they were asked to name the emotion, the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex activated and reduced the emotional amygdala reactivity. In other words, consciously recognizing the emotions reduced their impact."


This goes with what you said, but does this mean that when we experience a happy emotion and take time to fully experience and recognize it, that it reduces the emotion's impact?
« Last Edit: August 01, 2016, 04:55:34 PM by Ja192827 »

Frightful

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Re: Struggling with allowing myself to feel negative emotions
« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2016, 04:49:44 PM »
@Ja19....:" if I allow myself to feel the effects of stress, this is not the right way to reduce it in my life.  It seems that I should be telling myself that the particular event that is stressing me out is "no big deal,""
@Attachless: "It is so; I can`t give some scientific cause-effect-study that tells you why running from that is not particularily helpful and why accepting it without identifying with it as being "me" is helpful, other than my words :-P..."
@aashish: " ...."allowing myself to fully feel the emotions" but objectively rather than subjectively. Interested but not affected.....It's definitely not easy when your mind is caught up in the drama of the story it is creating, but with practice I've found the grip of these emotions to weaken."

Yes, telling yourself that the effects of stress are "no big deal" is a form of denial IMO.  And yet Attachless hit the nail on the head with that ever evasive explanation for why "sitting with" emotions of all kinds...depressive, anxiety provoking, etc.....are crucial for properly metabolizing them and reducing their harmful effects.  As aashish noted, I too find it best to take the approach of "interested, but not affected".  Your emotions are something that guide you....they are not *you* in your totality.  With practice, even in the midst of a severe emotional hijacking, you can learn to step alongside (interally) of your emotions and observe them, even with the pain of them sometimes, without capitulating to them.

Medical science has gone to great lengths to detail the effects of "healing"...when it comes to physical wounds to the body.  We are still largely in the dark about the factors that heal our souls.  But it seems to be clear from so much meditation, that abiding with those feelings (without 'wallowing' in them) somehow serves to slowly heal many of those wounds and simultaneously provides us with a new posture for handling new daily insults to the system.

@Attachless: "Or tell the other person that for you its a sign of disrespect, he may apologize because he didn`t know / it was not his intent to signalize that ... and if he then does it again intentionally and it hurts, you can take proper action. Feeling the hurt in any way doesn`t be bad, but can actually be a spring-board for resolution, proper action and growth..."

And I think part of that action and growth can be, after some time and mindful contemplation, deciding if some of the friends that you have chosen, sometimes chosen earlier in life when in not such a healthy place, are ones that you wish to keep close ties with.  Certainly I've had to let go of friends from a different place in my life that was not very healthy; friends who would prefer to stay stuck in a different and less healthy (IMO) place.

@Ja19...: "....does this mean that when we experience a happy mention and take time to fully experience and recognize it, that it reduces the emotion's impact?"

I guess my feeling here is that both happy and sad emotions are a part of life....and both are transitory.  In the past, during a highly elated feeling, I wanted it to last forever.....wanting only to experience high highs and never low lows.  With some age and experience, I personally feel better to be more in a place where a happy feelings is experienced...AND recognized for its transient nature.  Likewise,  a sad or anxious feeling can be experienced....AND recognized for its transient nature.

Ja192827

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Re: Struggling with allowing myself to feel negative emotions
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2016, 05:32:39 PM »
@Ja19....:" if I allow myself to feel the effects of stress, this is not the right way to reduce it in my life.  It seems that I should be telling myself that the particular event that is stressing me out is "no big deal,""
@Attachless: "It is so; I can`t give some scientific cause-effect-study that tells you why running from that is not particularily helpful and why accepting it without identifying with it as being "me" is helpful, other than my words :-P..."
@aashish: " ...."allowing myself to fully feel the emotions" but objectively rather than subjectively. Interested but not affected.....It's definitely not easy when your mind is caught up in the drama of the story it is creating, but with practice I've found the grip of these emotions to weaken."

Yes, telling yourself that the effects of stress are "no big deal" is a form of denial IMO.  And yet Attachless hit the nail on the head with that ever evasive explanation for why "sitting with" emotions of all kinds...depressive, anxiety provoking, etc.....are crucial for properly metabolizing them and reducing their harmful effects.  As aashish noted, I too find it best to take the approach of "interested, but not affected".  Your emotions are something that guide you....they are not *you* in your totality.  With practice, even in the midst of a severe emotional hijacking, you can learn to step alongside (interally) of your emotions and observe them, even with the pain of them sometimes, without capitulating to them.

Medical science has gone to great lengths to detail the effects of "healing"...when it comes to physical wounds to the body.  We are still largely in the dark about the factors that heal our souls.  But it seems to be clear from so much meditation, that abiding with those feelings (without 'wallowing' in them) somehow serves to slowly heal many of those wounds and simultaneously provides us with a new posture for handling new daily insults to the system.

@Attachless: "Or tell the other person that for you its a sign of disrespect, he may apologize because he didn`t know / it was not his intent to signalize that ... and if he then does it again intentionally and it hurts, you can take proper action. Feeling the hurt in any way doesn`t be bad, but can actually be a spring-board for resolution, proper action and growth..."

And I think part of that action and growth can be, after some time and mindful contemplation, deciding if some of the friends that you have chosen, sometimes chosen earlier in life when in not such a healthy place, are ones that you wish to keep close ties with.  Certainly I've had to let go of friends from a different place in my life that was not very healthy; friends who would prefer to stay stuck in a different and less healthy (IMO) place.

@Ja19...: "....does this mean that when we experience a happy mention and take time to fully experience and recognize it, that it reduces the emotion's impact?"

I guess my feeling here is that both happy and sad emotions are a part of life....and both are transitory.  In the past, during a highly elated feeling, I wanted it to last forever.....wanting only to experience high highs and never low lows.  With some age and experience, I personally feel better to be more in a place where a happy feelings is experienced...AND recognized for its transient nature.  Likewise,  a sad or anxious feeling can be experienced....AND recognized for its transient nature.


I have been practicing what you all have suggested regarding my friend with the phone.  I stepped back, and it sank in that the only reason why I hang out with this guy is that we have been friends for the past 30 years, so I didn't want to discontinue our friendship since I had so much time "invested."  Stepping back enabled me to see how insane my thinking was.

I plan on being more mindful of my positive emotions as well, so I won't cling onto them as tightly.  Thanks for your comment.

Re: Struggling with allowing myself to feel negative emotions
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2016, 07:56:18 PM »


This goes with what you said, but does this mean that when we experience a happy emotion and take time to fully experience and recognize it, that it reduces the emotion's impact?

I would advice you to stop working with emotions and start working with sensations.

Answer to your question is yes and no. In the beginning of the practice yes. Because we have an habit of grasping happiness before it even surfaces. But as you develop the grasping get much less and recognising happiness some times fades some time doesnt . well by then it really doesn't matter as you would more interested to experience more pain as it gives more and more taste of purification.  ;) . that's not all true. Better u learn from your experience.

Ja192827

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Re: Struggling with allowing myself to feel negative emotions
« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2016, 08:04:27 PM »
When you say that we have a tendency to grasp happiness before it surfaces, do you mean that we invest too much emotional energy in anticipating a positive event, thinkibg iver and over how great our vacation or meal will be, then when it arrives, it doesnt meet our expectations because we hyped it up too much?

Re: Struggling with allowing myself to feel negative emotions
« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2016, 08:10:00 PM »
Not emotional energy. We spend a lot of energy try to craft future with our desires. And spend more energy when future fails our expectations.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2016, 08:11:55 PM by siddharthgode »

Ja192827

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Re: Struggling with allowing myself to feel negative emotions
« Reply #12 on: August 01, 2016, 08:12:33 PM »
Not emotional energy. We spend a lot of energy try to craft future with our desires. And spend more energy when future fails our expectations.

I agree. I spend way too much time daydreaming of the day when I will experience no stress and life will be close to perfect. An exaggeration, but I have been trying to stop thinking that way. Thank you.

Re: Struggling with allowing myself to feel negative emotions
« Reply #13 on: August 01, 2016, 08:14:34 PM »
The problem is you are wasting your energy trying not to daydream. Accept daydreaming. Enjoy daydreaming. Then it comes in your control.

Re: Struggling with allowing myself to feel negative emotions
« Reply #14 on: August 01, 2016, 08:16:48 PM »
Whatever you feel is wrong with your mind are actually amazing processes with which you fill fall in love with one day.   ;)

Ja192827

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Re: Struggling with allowing myself to feel negative emotions
« Reply #15 on: August 01, 2016, 08:22:29 PM »
Whatever you feel is wrong with your mind are actually amazing processes with which you fill fall in love with one day.   ;)

I am confused, as I thought daydreaming is not a good thing? And if we become mindful of daydreaming and still spend the same amount of time doing it, how does being mindful of it benefit us?

Re: Struggling with allowing myself to feel negative emotions
« Reply #16 on: August 01, 2016, 08:28:24 PM »
As soon as you bring daydreaming inside your awareness daydreaming stops doesn't it?
I meant don't hate it. When its there don't push it away. Bring it inside your awareness and let it melt. As you keep doing this your awareness grows n eats daydreaming.

Ja192827

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Re: Struggling with allowing myself to feel negative emotions
« Reply #17 on: August 01, 2016, 08:37:49 PM »
Ok, so if I make a note of observing when I am daydreaming, by doing so, it might occur to me how much an absurd amount of time I devote to it, consequently, I will be more likely to not engage in it as much?

Re: Struggling with allowing myself to feel negative emotions
« Reply #18 on: August 02, 2016, 12:41:33 AM »
Can you see that you are still considering daydreaming as negative quality of the mind? It is not. Its just a quality of mind.
You want to not engage in it because currently it is not under your control and creates a lot of sangharas in you. (Reactions). Remove the reactions, intensity of daydreaming dies of. Then you won't hate it as much as you do now. When there is no abortion or craving it looses all its importance. Then your mind can actually work at removing reaction when it is planning for future. It would feel like you have one leg in present and one in future.

Ja192827

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Re: Struggling with allowing myself to feel negative emotions
« Reply #19 on: August 02, 2016, 11:41:02 AM »
Making sense to me now; thanks so much.

 

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