CREATING EMOTIONAL SPACE
By Kater Leatherman
Emotional clutter includes unresolved grief and anger, fear, jealousy, anxiety, guilt, shame and resentment. These feelings need to be heard, nurtured and allowed the space to unfold. If we don’t acknowledge and feel them, they will either get projected onto others or turned inward.
Many of us are familiar with the expression “the feeling gets the healing,” which means we must go through, not around, these emotions. Because feelings can be messy, complex and painful, our tendency is to push them down, distract ourselves or go into avoidance and denial. Eventually, this will manifest in some form of disease in the body, mind and spirit. By surrendering, we are letting go of our power over our feelings.
As with everything in life, balance is key; we can’t live by our feelings alone. Feelings can be fickle. Sometimes, we get easily inner-whelmed by them. And, they are changing all the time. For example, you could feel madly in love with your partner one day and the next you’re not sure what attracted you to him or her in the first place. Feelings are also dependent on our rhythms, mood and circumstances. Getting carried away by your emotions can also impair thinking. For example, if you have worthiness issues, which aren’t always rational, neutralize them by asking logical questions.
Also, heart-driven and ego-driven feelings are motivated by different things. Ego-based emotions are triggered by our thoughts, beliefs and the “stories” that we tell ourselves (usually stemming from our projections, fears and insecurities). Heart-driven feelings, which come from our unresolved past, tend to cut a deeper rut and evoke a more authentic, even familiar tone. Ego-driven feelings can usually be shifted by changing your thoughts. Heart-based feelings have to be felt and will reoccur if you don’t deal with them, especially since your soul’s desire is to be free.
Here are seven ways to balance your feelings and give yourself some emotional space:
• Pay attention to trigger reactions. When we react strongly to an instant situation or something that someone did or said, there’s a good chance that it can be traced back to an old feeling or memory. While you can’t change the circumstances from your past, you can feel the anger and sadness associated with them in the here and now. Releasing your unresolved history reduces emotional clutter.
• It’s important to share your feelings. Do this with trustworthy people who will listen without trying to fix, judge or shame you. Lack of emotional space can show up around people who discount your emotions, those who want to change or minimize your feelings, probably because they don’t want to deal with their pain, or who tell you not to feel a certain way.
• Honor your feelings. Be gentle with them. Instead of fearing them, become curious as a way to learn more about yourself.
• Underneath most anger is sadness. Once you grieve, your anger will dissipate and the person or situation will no longer have control over you.
• Avoid foods that affect emotions. Think food that makes you feel irritable, anxious, heavy or tired.
• Emotional compatibility with a partner is key. It can make a relationship. In one study, it was discovered that what drove most couples apart was contempt. Interestingly, the opposite of contempt is respect.
• Be honest with yourself. Creating emotional space in your life requires feeling your truth. Lying to yourself only serves to slow down your rate of growth and give you an excuse to avoid reality.
Kater Leatherman is a home stager, professional organizer and yoga instructor at Ridgely Retreat in West Annapolis. She also has a monthly column in The Capital called Kater On The Homefront. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org