Learning to accept the full range of emotion is essential to our mental and physical health. Learning to balance all our emotions is the key to our health and wellbeing. Why is this so difficult?
The Key to Wholeness
Everyone wants to live a life filled with happiness. It’s a concept you find at the center of many ancient traditions. To be happy, we must be whole. It seems simple, but this can be difficult. We learn to link happiness with situations instead of living a state where happiness underlies everything.
The key to living in a state of happiness is accepting who we are. Our happiness doesn’t depend on the situation but our state of mind. The key is learning to accept all aspects of life, all aspects of ourselves. The key to wholeness starts with the perspective of a realist. We learn to adjust our direction based on the situations, but remain grounded while we are doing it.
Life has its trials, and if we deny negative emotions from these tests, we do not address what is causing the emotion. Denial is an ineffective coping mechanism because it keeps us from dealing with the cause of our emotions. This creates stress, which is harmful to our mental and physical health.
It does not mean we should be happy when bad things happen. It means we learn to control our response to the negative. We can still be hurt, frustrated or angry, but we learn to not to dwell or become fixated by these negative emotions. We learn not to deny them, but to let them pass.
Accepting The Full Range of Emotion
Emotions are a part of the human condition, we a vast range of emotions available from very positive to extremely negative. Some people have more than their share of negative experiences. This isn’t fair, but it happens.
In the past, people learned to cope with their emotions by mirroring their family and friends. You typically worked with your family. So, sharing your emotions with them was a part of life.
Your family and friends helped you adjust to and through various stages of growth and the hardships of life. As we entered the early modern age (1), this became more and more difficult. By the end of the industrial revolution (2), the support the structure of the family was nearly erased. In the contemporary period (3), the corporate culture has eliminated this traditional support system altogether.
You must find other strategies to cope with hardships. This is why groups are formed around specific conditions. There are groups for people dealing with cancer, sexual abuse, and all types of addictions. Self-care becomes even more important when you do not have a good support system.
Accepting the full range of emotion gives us perspective. It helps us identify the things we want or need to change. It helps us to become more aware of both the good the negative.
There are lessons in both positive and negative situations. Learn to focus on finding the lesson to take advantage of the opportunities and emotions of life. Learn to stop and think before acting or giving into negative self-talk.
The Mind is Always Engaged
It’s far too easy in our modern culture to occupy our mind every waking moment. Our culture trains us to be busy. Day-to-day tasks, worries, and social pressures can be overwhelming. However, showing any negative emotions in the corporate environment is anathema. You must project a positive outlook at all times. The long-term effects of suppressing all of your emotions is destructive. It’s the root of depression.
Many people learn to “fake” positive emotions because it is an expectation of the culture. Accepting the full range of emotion makes us feel vulnerable. So, if the mind is engaged, it keeps us from feeling what’s going on. It’s a way of dampening our emotions. It’s a strategy that helps us fit in. But at what cost? We lose the key to wholeness. We learn to segregate feelings.
The modern society that was supposed to afford us more free time is just the opposite. Our minds are engaged nonstop. The handheld device becomes a new obsession instead of a tool. We forget how important for us to daydream, contemplate, and get in touch with what is going on inside. Our mind needs time to reset. We need to meditate. For that reason, we need to do this daily to maintain our health.
The Corporate Culture
As we mentioned above, the corporate culture has changed our lives. The corporate culture pervades life. This is a culture that demands we show a positive smile even when we are suffering emotionally. We learn to temper all emotions. Showing genuine social affection, like hugging, is strictly forbidden. Because this would place the corporation in jeopardy of a lawsuit.
It’s a culture that demands we guard our words, actions, and emotions so as not to offend their boundaries. It is more important for us to guard the assets of the corporation than to act like human beings. Expressing any negative emotion is unacceptable behavior. This trains us to deny our negative emotions.
So, learn to mute the full range of our emotions. We learn to be monotone at work. This training spills over into our personal lives, and we seek prescription drugs to numb out the negative. We lose the capacity to deal with what is causing the negative emotion. In this way, we can continue to be productive in the workplace. We become robots living a monotone existence.
So, life becomes meaningless. We lose perspective by not being able to accept the full range of our emotions. It becomes a rarity. This trend is unhealthy in the long-run. Even though this feels like a comfort zone, it’s a trap and suppressing our feelings becomes a habitual practice. When we resist or ignore our emotions they can fester, and this is unhealthy. You can’t medicate away your emotions forever.
Why Spiritual Exploration is Important
We are spiritual beings. And our emotions are a part of who we are. One of the common threads we have is the desire to seek the unknown. This is the inner quest we fulfill with spiritual exploration. This requires us to experience the full range of emotions.
Because of the above obstacles, we cannot accept the full range of our emotions. We need to take time to do things which help us regain and retain our mental and physical health. The spiritual journey emphasizes this need to be whole. Learning to turn inward and allow yourself to “feel” everything has always taken courage. This is true now more than ever.
Learn to be Kind to Ourselves
The first key is learning to be kind to yourself. Provide time and space just to be with yourself and allow yourself to feel your emotions without judgment. Engage in self-care. To understand what’s going on inside, you need to embrace our emotional center. Sometimes this center is turbulent and we block it off because it is uncomfortable, but this is the key to wholeness.
This includes seeking professional help if you need it. Remember, we lack the traditional support systems and free time to sort things out on our own. So, mental health professionals can help us get through the hard spots.
Learn to Be Mindful
The second key to getting in touch with your emotions is learning techniques for mindfulness meditation. These aren’t accessories, they are necessary tools to help you cope with the increased stress of the modern world.
One excellent strategy is to use modern technology to remind us. Set a calendar reminder at least once a day with a keyword like, “meditate or mindfulness break.” Then, use your willpower to take a break. Once you’ve done this for a while you’ll look forward to this mental oasis. That’s when your mindfulness and meditation breaks will start to pay off.
Some personality types find it easier to feel their emotions. Those who understand the Enneagram Type 4 know that they can become fixated on their emotions. Type 9 would be more inclined to ignore their emotions as a strategy to “make it” through the day.
Enneagram Personality Profile
We highly recommend the Enneagram Personality Profile. It’s a part of the basic tools of our blended learning process. This tool can help you identify your burdens and also guide you in learning to lay them down. The Enneagram Personality Profile is a set of scientifically validated questions. This tool will enable you to identify your default personality and instinct settings.
We are supposed to live life accepting the full range of emotion. The key to finding happiness is accepting that there will be both highs and lows.
We hope you found this article helpful, maybe even thought-provoking. You will find more interesting posts on our blog page. Use the search option on the blog page to find articles by key terms, topics, or category.
Does spiritual exploration interest you? If so, we offer both face-to-face and virtual learning sessions. We use a blended learning process to get the best learning outcomes. This blended approach aligns with what Joseph Campbell calls the Hero’s Journey (4).
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(1) Early Modern Age, Wikipedia
(2) Industrial Revolution, Wikipedia
(3) Contemporary Period, Wikipedia
(4) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia