One of the most important things we focus on during our work together is to teach you how to expand your emotional range. This is the range of feelings you allow yourself to have, and to show without judgement, thereby giving you the ability to ‘feel more’, and think/judge less.
Why’s that important? Because otherwise the effort of avoidance makes life painful, stressful or conversely, almost completely numb/flat… and lets face it, none of these options are particularly attractive prospects.
All pain and discomfort, including numbness, is born from a resistance to accepting the feeling of something.
Through social and familial conditioning, either consciously or unconsciously, we have been made to judge any number of our feelings as wrong or bad and therefore pushed them away to sit in the dark recess of our minds, becoming what we refer to as ‘shadows’. The term shadow is given because typically we are unaware of these qualities we have inside us, noticing them only in others, and only having others notice them in us.
When we notice our condemned feeling being expressed in others, we often get quite a strong reaction to it… becoming ‘triggered’ which is the feeling you get when a surge of adrenaline rushes through your body. You might feel like you need to defend yourself or even attack the perpetrator, even if you don’t really understand why. Blood rushes through your body as it gets tighter and more constricted ready to pounce or run, and we feel angry, disgusted or scared.
This might seem a ridiculous state of affairs to the logical mind, but the logical mind is not in control at this point. The unconscious amygdala part of the brain has taken over for a bit 😉 All we recognise (even if only unconsciously at this moment) is that someone else is displaying behaviours and emotions that we have unknowingly disowned in ourselves and they must be stopped or we must get away from them quickly.
It’s not always the more serious/denser feelings like anger, jealousy etc, but can be the more benign and sweet ones too… for example showing our physical beauty, being sensual, or even just being happy can be deemed ‘wrong’ in some circles.
One of the first things to happen once you learn to accept and integrate your ‘forbidden’ emotion (after immense feelings of peace) is that you lose the strength of the judgement of that emotion, or you lose the judgement altogether. Therefore, instead of being annoyed by seeing someone expressing what was forbidden in yourself, you either feel compassion, or feel oddly humorous in the face of it. Rather like you do when you look at a child doing something you once did that serves no purpose for you now. A further benefit is you will rarely attract the behaviour or person into your space anymore… and this feels incredibly liberating and freeing. Just imagine all those things you currently judge and loathe, just not bothering you anymore…
So how do you get to accept and integrate something that you currently feel so appalled by? Well it is a process we complete together, however the crux is that you are helped to bring all judgements into the light of your awareness. You are helped to see how each forbidden emotion was made wrong, and you are led on a journey of forgiveness and acceptance until quite literally you feel your body relax into compassion for the behaviour, for yourself and for anyone who displays it.
Lets look at some examples of shadow emotions:
So what if your ‘shadow’ or disowned emotion is jealousy… why would you accept that behaviour in yourself? After all, everyone says jealousy is a terrible thing don’t they? so how could you possibly accept that in yourself.
Firstly, you cannot disown parts of yourself and ever be truly happy. If you feel an emotion, you can either acknowledge it, letting it breathe so it can release itself in a more controlled and healthy way, or you can be hijacked by it, by repressing which will end up making it come out more destructively (to you or others) later. There is no 3rd choice anyone has come across.
The beauty about our shadow emotions/behaviours is that there is always a gift in there when you turn the volume down a bit. So what is the gift with jealousy? Well jealousy can teach you many things…
Jealousy, in and of itself, can be the driving force to help you achieve your dreams/desires. It can also highlight how much someone/something means to you so you can choose to put more healthy focus on/more importance on it. Another gift is that if expressed in a healthy and contained way, it can make a person (who is on the receiving end of your jealousy) feel wanted, desired and valued. It can also highlight unhealthy attachments to things, perhaps linked to a lack of worthiness which when given space to be released and accepted will help you to have more self-love.
Another shadow emotion could be arrogance.
The gift of arrogance is that when you turn the volume down on it, the quieter qualities contained within are those of great leaders.. The belief someone has that they are the best at something, or that they know the best way to do something is a quality we want to see in certain situations. If you were struggling with a health condition you would want to see a Doctor who was confident in his abilities to help you. If you found yourself in an emergency crisis, most of us would be glad to seek out the help of someone who could pull order into chaos with clear ‘listen to me’ directions.
Once we have begun to see the gift in our shadows it really helps to let go of the judgement we have over it, and along with the forgiveness process, the shadow can be integrated back into ourselves in a healthy way.
Expanding our emotional range means we pull back into ourselves all of the wayward emotions/behaviours that we judged as negative, thus making us more true to ourselves, more authentic; easier to be around for others and we finally find others more enjoyable to be around too.