If I had to single out just one factor that represented the most common block to personal growth and authentic spiritual development it would be this – emotion avoidance. Put simply fear of feeling our emotions is pandemic amongst human beings and for many people at the heart broken relationships, low levels of intimacy, unhappiness, unexplained bodily symptoms and devitalisation. Most people don’t fully appreciate the extent to which emotional avoidance is directing their life.
Here are the tell-tale signs that emotion avoidance might be present in your life: you avoid situations that might trigger strong emotions (for example addressing a conflict with your partner); smiling/laughing when you feel angry, sad or fearful; you find it difficult to spend time by yourself; you struggle to rest your attention in the here-and-now; you need to be in control; you change the subject when uncomfortable; you feel uncomfortable in moments of silence with others; you don’t want to cry in front of others; you don’t allow yourself to show others your anger; you move away from others when you feel emotional; you feel uncomfortable around people who are displaying strong emotions; you have resentments; you don’t allow yourself to receive compliments – the list goes on.
Avoiding what we are feeling is like holding beach balls under water – it consumes energy and its hard work! As we learn to turn towards our emotions and welcome them – we discover something quite revelatory – that all emotions are like waves - they rise, reach a crescendo and then dissipate. By allowing this process to unfold, we not only receive the message of the emotion and the energy liberated from the emotion, but we move more fully into Presence and aliveness. Welcoming and working with your emotions is an art that once learnt has the potential to transform your health, your lives and relationships. For more information on how to work with emotions see True Happiness – your complete guide to emotional health (Piatkus £14.99)
Author: Mark Atkinson