When people feel depressed or angry or worthless or out of control or despairing or one of a hundred other painful experiences, they don’t just feel bad; on top of that, they are afraid of their own feelings and fear they are trapped in a painful, dark place with no escape. In fact, with the right approach, painful emotional feelings can be easily healed and transformed.
With the right approach, behind that depression, that anger, that worthlessness it is not difficult at all to find the strength, the positivity, the creativity, the love, the fullfilment which are your birthright and your inner nature. Yet in the whole area of psychotherapy and personal development, there is nothing as misunderstood as emotions.
There’s just so much confusion about whether emotions are good or bad, need to be felt or need to be got rid of, whether they are positive or damaging and dangerous. This article aims to illuminate one specific aspect of the the right way to transform painful emotions into peace and joy.
The confusion comes because, speaking broadly, there are two types of emotional feeling. I term these life-affirming and life-delaying emotions – so called because they delay getting on with life. [Strictly, these are two stages in the life cycle of the emotion, a stage to feel it and a stage to let go of it.] Imagine the tears of a little child who is really hurt. Those tears touch our hearts. Even bystanders are moved to do anything to help. On the other hand a child’s crying can have an off-putting, I-want-my-way, boo-hoo-hoo quality which doesn’t touch our hearts. Instead, it moves us to a response which though caring is more brisk and matter-of-fact. Well, it’s the same for adult emotions too. For the onlooker, some tears, some anger, some fears touch the heart. Others are a turn-off. Life-affirming emotions are real, true, emotions which touch the heart of the beholder; for healing and happiness, these need to be felt no matter how painful. Life-delaying emotions are unreal, protective, or cover up deeper layers of real emotions, or they have a dramatic attention-seeking quality. These by contrast are valueless and need to be dropped this very instant, no matter how right they feel. Our everyday feelings and emotions are a complex mixture of these two. After we have felt them once or a few times, life-affirming emotions change into life delaying ones, and they too need to be dropped.