It is now a few weeks into January and I hope that you’re all honoring your intentions and resolutions for 2017 with a sense of empowerment and authenticity. I also hope for another important thing: you will feel strength in your full humanity this year. As you look at all the possibilities on the horizon, I invite you to also embrace the dark, the pain, both good and bad, that makes up your full emotional range as a balanced, healthy human being.
For years I’m sure you’ve noticed a trend towards positive thinking and manifesting. I’ve been there and I know how valuable this can be particularly when one is experiencing any type of struggle. Seeing the positive can be an incredibly impactful tool for my patients who are facing very real and painful fertility experiences. But as an integrative health expert who practices Traditional Chinese Medicine, has spent years devoted to Vipassana meditation and explored every spiritual teaching I could, I am also human with another very real side of myself. That means that no matter how much I manifest the positive and reframe things in a glowing light, I still have a range of emotions like everyone else that includes anger, sadness and fear. We all do.
I think a lot of the current spiritual teaching trends need to be tempered with this acknowledgement. New age positive thinking has served so much value, but I often see a struggle in my patients who have embraced this kind of thinking and then ended up disappointed in themselves when what they were hoping to accomplish didn’t happen. What they were doing was focusing on the result, while completely denying or escaping the present moment and the feelings alive within them. And as I’m sure you know, when we suppress things rather than feel through them, we can end up in more pain.
There is no reason to feel badly about feeling bad. In fact, I think it’s where the real healing happens, because when you are struggling through an emotional challenge you are actually attempting to release it. It is also a way to tap into unconditional love for yourself throughout any difficult experience. To embrace the darkness or the struggle, without glossing over it with inauthentic positive thinking, manifesting, or transferring our pain onto others is when you are in your own strength, loving yourself and accepting your full humanity.
Feelings have their own energy, each of them appear differently because they have their own wisdom and lesson to teach. The tougher emotions deserve to be honored as much as the easier ones, and embraced and loved as you would your own best friend in need of a real hug.
Learning to love each part of ourselves like this allows us to grow beyond some of the first lessons we learned. Most of us grew up with our parents telling us we were ok when we were not. They encouraged a positive spin on emotions way before someone told us to manifest the good in everything. We learned at a young age that feeling badly wasn’t the way to be, instead we should be nice, grateful and striving toward happiness at all times, or at worst, we were even taught to deny our feelings.
But this leaves us as humans susceptible to missing our depth of experience. If you tell yourself a positive spin story about your reality or if you wallow (which is another form of a story), your capacity to hold your emotions is limited. We only find expansion when we understand how to feel and love all of the energies inside us.To witness, to feel, and to digest our pain without resistance holds so much transformative power. And it is a choice. We can choose to grow our capacity by embracing pain and discomfort, and by doing so, we may begin to understand the message these emotions are trying to teach us.
When we love ourselves, rather than neglecting what needs attention we are giving ourselves a beautiful gift. That is, permission to be, rather than judging and abandoning ourselves when painful emotions are present. This is when we let go of the grand spin stories about our lives and embrace our feelings so that we can learn from them. We stop selectively looking down on our own emotional experiences, which no positive mantra ever had the ability to erase.
I have had so many women tell me that the pain was where the healing happened, by bravely facing their feelings and honoring their experiences. Learning to grow your capacity to hold what life brings is such a loving act. This love will also allow you to embrace life differently. Let’s get real this year: feel, love and be free.