When you experience unwanted emotions, you essentially handle it one of three ways.
You indulge it; you resist it; or you allow it.
Indulge the Emotion: Indulging in the emotion, you give it what it wants like you have no choice. If it were a person, you give it the keys to your car and hover in the backseat like you are a passenger. Because it calls, you answer. You experience all the drama. You create the drama.
Maybe you curl up into a ball and sleep all day long. You yell at your kids. You eat the whole box of oreos.
Resist the Emotion: This is such an interesting one to me. It looks smart and logical. And yet, it gives away so much power. It sees the emotion as so threatening it wards it off. Resisting an emotion accomplishes the opposite of what you are trying to do. Like ignoring a child, it gets louder and louder until you answer.
It may come out in head or body aches, chronic pain, passive aggressive comments, delayed road rage, overeating, over-drinking, face-booking, or unwarranted shopping sprees.
It is like trying to push a beach ball under the water. You push it away, but it pops back up. The more you resist it, the more your energy is taken by it. You may hide it like junk shoved in a closet, but eventually the junk topples out. Eventually resisted emotions get the final say.
Resisting sadness turns into depression. Resisting frustration turns into anger. Resisting anxiety turns into debilitating fear.
What you are resisting is the equivalent of a monster in the corner of a child's room. It is when you avoid it that it has so much power. Turn on the lights, quit hiding and face it head on. You will discover what you fear is the equivalent of a chair piled with clothes under dark shadows.
Allow the Emotion: Allowing welcomes all feelings. It is not threatened by them. It is not indulgent. It is not resisting. It is warm and welcoming. It is gentle. Kind. Patient. It does not give the proverbial car keys to the emotion. It allows it, but does not surrender to it.
If you are rushing to get through an emotion, to get it done and over, then you aren't allowing. If you are forcing a new thought to create a new feeling but find the thought not sticking, it is because you are forcing the new emotion without first allowing the less preferred one.
As long as it takes, let an emotion linger until you know you have welcomed it without resisting. If you have spent a lifetime canning your feelings, it may be days or weeks you experience that emotion. It is harmless. It is when you resist or indulge it that you crown it with power.
How do you allow the feeling without indulging? You Breathe it in. And as you do, you let everything around you relax. Kind of like getting a shot. You know it will hurt, but you just let it happen and you know it will pass.
As you experience the feeling you can describe it. Where do you feel it in your body? Is it hot, cold? Flat, sharp? Light, dark? Now name it. Is it frustration or anger? Annoyed or really sad?
When you become an observer of your feelings you are no longer fighting, judging, or being controlled by them. You see they are not WHO you are.
Once you allow yourself to experience it, it dissipates. You will discover what is on the other side that you have been resisting. And when you quit adding all the extra drama and consequences that come from your reaction, then you really do shorten it's life.
Hearing about these concepts they are easy to understand. You may easily see some of your own tendencies. And yet it is a practice. It is building a new skill. A new habit. Its committing to a new way of life.
When you really open yourself up to experience all emotion, you will start to change your experiences and your marriage.
Where we are in life proves what we are thinking. When we change our perspective, we can change our lives and our relationships.