Do Emotions Control or Inform You?

Anxiety and fear are common emotions many of us experience in response to our life circumstances and the uncertainty of transitions and decision points.

These emotional states can feel disorienting and we may find ourselves acting out in behaviors or activities that are not healthy or supportive.

When we don’t embrace these emotions directly they will express themselves in distorted ways that often create more pain for us, our colleagues, family and friends.

It’s not uncommon to have learned throughout our lives, in a number of ways, that emotions are labeled ‘bad’ and ‘not acceptable’.

How do you respond to various emotions that arise? Is there a specific emotion that you judge or one that you seem to default to when you are stressed?

Learning about our default reactions can invite awareness and new choices to the unconscious patterns that create frustration and struggle.


A common response to experiencing these emotions is to turn away and judge them and ourselves. This creates a sense of feeling separate, confused and often alienates us from the people or things we love the most.

During my first month long meditation retreat we sat for 8-10 hours a day on a meditation cushion watching our mind.

What unfolded over the four weeks were periods of spontaneous grief cries from the group, that made the hair on my arms stand up, especially when I realized one time it was coming from me.

Interspersed with belly laughter, growls of anger and light tears of joy.  Some of these expressions would include 30 people for up to 20 minutes at a time.

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The wave would come with intensity as it escalated and then slowly unfurl into a deadening silence and spaciousness.

There was direct instruction not to console anyone; to allow ourselves and others to express the full experience.  This is a great lesson in the natural fluidity of our capacity to flow in and out of many states.

Emotions simply flowed and were received as a natural part of the human condition.  There was no strategy to stuff it or get caught analyzing the story we attached to its meaning.  We just let it be.

In my experience, and in observing my clients, what keeps us feeling stuck is the commentary we attach to what the emotions represent.  Another strategy is our impulse to push them away.

4 Common Myths and Beliefs About Emotions:

1. Strength and Vulnerability: ‘I’m strong and I don’t want to be perceived as weak or vulnerable’ or ‘I need to be strong and emotions are weak’

2. Spiritual By-Pass: ‘I’m on a spiritual journey and I believe transcending (in other words, avoiding) my emotions is the best strategy.'

3. Past Experience: Many of us experienced early in life punishment or judgment for feeling the way we felt. If this judgment came from a source we loved or respected the imprint molded our view of that emotion and its validity.

4. Identity Attachments: We see this in many business environments, relationships and family structures. Identities are formed as a strategy for us to stay connected to those we love, to be approved of or to feel validated at work.

They were created to support us at a certain time of our lives, however, without the awareness of the roles we default into we limit our ability to be dynamic and move from what is true in each moment.


This invites greater clarity and awareness which ultimately allows for new choices when we are triggered.

My view is to meet the emotions as guides to expand our awareness of default patterns that limit our ability to meet ourselves wherever we are.

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