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We all have various ways of trying to fill the hole in our heart. What’s misleading is that some of these things are condoned by society as “good things” — such as going back to school, getting a job with more responsibility, volunteering your time, entering a new relationship, etc. While none of these things is “bad” on its own, we have to examine our motives underneath doing any activity. Ultimately, it is not that an activity is inherently right or wrong—what matters is our intention behind it. We can make excuses for ourselves and go into “achievement mode” in order to not feel our feelings.

We do not want to face ourselves or our pain. We are conditioned to seek comfort. When we feel uncomfortable, we immediately seeks ways to get ourselves out of that. Learning how to sit with feelings is probably one of the most important things we can all learn to do. It’s not something we’re necessarily taught, but it should be.

Emotional pain is the worst. There is nothing more draining and depressing than feeling a storm of emotions raging inside of you, while you’re not entirely sure “why” it’s happening. Most often the roots of such pain are in the past, and it is now coming up to be looked at. Sometimes the clarity doesn’t come until later.

How do you sit with your feelings? It might feel like you’re repressing your feelings at first. If you’re not used to it, of course there is some resistance to begin with.

I think the main thing we fear with (negative/turbulent) emotions is that they won’t ever end. That we will somehow be swept up in our sea of emotions and never resurface. That we will be consumed by them.

But the paradox is that if we let ourselves go into the emotion, we usually end up feeling some sense of release afterward. Of course it takes practice. But finding a steady place in your body can usually help. For me it’s usually almost my arms. From there, letting the emotions have their space to be — without any type of suppressing or controlling — will help us. We can even imagine we have a note-taker who sits in the corner of our minds, writing down how we feel in any given situation. “Oh, she’s feeling angry now.” “Now she’s feeling sad.” In this way, we begin to understand our patterns and hopefully start to dissect and deconstruct old storylines with the hopeful goal of freedom from turbulent emotions and a new, steady sense of inner peace.

Diana Waldron is a writer and a sitarist.

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