Everyone has emotional baggage, that is part of being human. The problem is when we keep adding more and more to our already spilling emotional bags, never throwing anything out.
Therefore, it might be a good idea to throw out the old and new insults, hurt feelings and angry thoughts.
And Diwali might be a perfect time to do that emotional cleaning as we get ready to clean our homes. In the process we might notice that emotional cleaning might be way more important than a clean home.
Just like we go through old things, one by one, we realise that there are things that have been just sitting at home that have outlived their use, such as old crockery, clothes, kitchen appliances etc. It is all the garbage that we don’t need in our lives and frankly we know that we would feel a ton lighter without them in our lives. Our emotional self works in the same way. The old feelings, the old hurts are something that we did not bother to clear out. INSTEAD we push them deep into our subconscious.
These old feelings have been just sitting there and will manifest in ugly ways. Dealing with these emotions might be painful but will be a very cathartic exercise. Our brain will thank us for it later.
Emotional Cleaning is a way to take stock of the unresolved emotions that are holding us back. Let’s first understand what these “difficult emotions” and how they feel in our body, are:
Guilt: is a feeling of restlessness because our subconscious is making it hard to live with the situation. We may begin to feel confined or suffocated with an overwhelming desire to escape. We may have a hard time breathing and a tightness in the chest.
Fear: We feel threatened and want to save ourselves from danger. Physically our legs start shaking, tightness in stomach or chest, weakness, or dizziness.
Anxiety: This is a variety of fear based on our imagination. We begin to anticipate that things will go wrong in the future. We might feel numbness, far away look – physically and mentally, irritability, loss of appetite, diarrhoea and sleeplessness. The body may also feel listless or restless.
Anger: It might feel like you have this extra strength in your body to primarily fight something that feels unjust. It is most often manifested in the body as warmth and flushed skin, tense muscles, a clenched jaw or fists, irregular or quick breathing, an accelerated heartbeat, and a feeling of pounding in the ears.
Hostility: It’s a form of anger that keeps simmering inside of us that can go off anytime without any need of a trigger. The mind is looking for reasons to showcase a full blown rage. The body is constantly tense and ready for action.
Frustration: This emotion means that we have been trying to achieve something but failing even after repeated effort. So it is a low level of pent up anger. It may feel like your body wants to lash out but doesn’t know on what or whom. Body movements and posture might seem rigid. Sometimes frustration is anger combined with denial.
Shame: We want to hide ourselves from everyone. Therefore, shame can make us hunch and appear small in hope that we would disappear or not be visible to the world.
It will also bring out this heated feeling and flushed cheeks. There is also a sense of inner numbness but at the same time a conflicting feeling of cold emptiness.
Depression: It’s a feeling of complete hopelessness. We might feel cold and heavy. The body is lethargic and lacking in energy therefore we may experience slow movement, rigidity and hesitant actions.
Jealousy: This is one of the most complex emotions that has shades of anger, fear and humiliation and perhaps disgust as well. So we might want to lash out at the person causing it, tightness in stomach and chest in fear. At the same time, the heated sensations that accompany anger and humiliation.
The strategy is to need to ‘SHRINK’ these negative emotions and actively deal with them so a feeling of emotional well being can prevail in our body, mind and soul.
Here is how to can use the Shrink Strategy
Shrink Anger: Anger is one of the most powerful emotions and takes a while to leave our mind and body…sometimes about 24 hours. It precipitates rapidly where tiny issues magnify into these gigantic dark objects. Anger is hard to dissipate and we might engage in blaming others to make ourselves feel better. If we stop assuming evil intent with words, looks, and tones, stop demanding perfection and just allow people to just be people, we can deal with our anger a lot better.
Shrink Envy and Jealousy: They contaminate our hearts and relationships until there is no room for real love. Selfishness and greed turns to jealousy, becoming a desire to get by taking from another and sabotaging. Take yourself out of the equation and practice empathy. Love is the antidote to Envy and Jealousy.
Shrink Grudges: We get hurt, hold onto the pain for fear of forgetting, we create grudges. Living in the rear view mirror makes it impossible to live in the here and now. Forgiving does not mean that it was ok and it can be wiped out of memory. But it means that we accept the situation so we can let go of that weight instead of dragging it with us all our lives.
Shrink Fear: Fear is clutter that we take with us everywhere. We start becoming reactive. We can start looking at the world through the lens of ‘collective conscious’ Or in other words, viewing actions that benefit a larger group of people rather than just ourselves.
Shrink Pessimism: pessimists push people away and damage relationships. They destroy happiness and sabotage growth and opportunity. They also have the advantage of being right 100% of the time, in their own minds. They ignore everything that is good or positive and focus on the one thing that might be wrong. They bring everyone else down with them. Being optimistic means that we anticipate positive outcomes. When we do that subconsciously we are telling our minds to put all our effort towards that initiative and ‘go get it’.
There is a lot of good that we all have the capacity to create. We don’t need to depend on others to feel good about ourselves, but we can create new feelings of well being by some very simple practices such as
- Doing one good thing for others everyday
- Practicing gratitude – because there is a lot that we have to be grateful for.
- Compassion and empathy
- Doing the karma that we want coming back in 20 years.
- Meditate for 20 minutes where the only thing you feel in your heart is love. Love for anything. Social relationships, god, nature. Whatever.
Your emotional cleaning can genuinely make the world a better place.
Shruti Varma is a Counselling Psychologist. She is a Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania Alumnus. Having held several leadership positions in various MNCs, Shruti is a leading Counsellor, Coach and Trainer in Emotions Management and Emotional Intelligence. Having been a practitioner of Yoga, she combines Yogic Sciences in her Counselling practice, Coaching as well as Trainings.