First, the Bad News
We have a love/hate relationship with our emotions. We love them when we’re happy, excited, or feeling loved. We hate them when we’re mad at ourselves, or we’re feeling rejected or lonely. Those negative emotions are what bring people to my office. (I’ve never had to treat someone who was just too happy.) It’s usually after people have done their darndest to numb, out run, deny, or distract themselves from unpleasant feelings that they reach out for help. By then, most are suffering the collateral damages of strained relationships, addictions, or feelings of self-condemnation. That’s because:
Emotions buried alive never die.
When ignored, our emotions clamor for even more attention. We’ve all had that moment when the resentment or anger we thought we’d buried suddenly overtakes us with a vengeance. We hadn’t meant to react so strongly. But some invisible button got pushed and we got hijacked. Suddenly anger or grief or shame took us over.
If we don’t take charge of our emotions, our emotions take charge of us.
There is an effective way to address painful emotions that you can do in the comfort of your own home. You don’t need anyone else’s help for it. It’s a practice that evolved as I worked through my own feelings of hopelessness after my divorce 15 years ago. My life has been completely remade since then. I credit my part of it to this daily practice, which strengthens my determination, and opens me to new possibilities for a fulfilling life.
What could really help with our life challenges, soothe our temperament, heal inner wounds and create goodness in the areas we lack?
By combining the therapeutic practice of Mindfulness with a prayerful Spiritual meditation you can convert negative emotions into beneficial traits that become stepping stones into a better future. This experience has five parts but there is no need to do all five every day. Do as much as your time allows or as you feel led. The practice as a whole meets the three basic needs we experience every day.
Three basic human needs: Safety, Satisfaction, and Connection.
I’ll briefly give an overview of the meditation in this blog and go more into detail later. Here’s a very condensed outline of all five stages.
1. The practice begins with “Here I Am.” You identify the emotions you’re most aware of while being still and sitting in God’s loving presence. What we hold back, holds us back.
2. The second stage is “Here You Are.” You transfer your focus to God, observe and appreciate the loving characteristics of his nature and allow these to sink in (and rub off on you!).
3. In stage three you focus on your relationship with God, characterized by the phrase “I Love You.” The unique part of Christian meditation is that it focuses on being in a relationship with God. The main point of Christianity is not self-improvement, or even changing the world, but intimate union with the One who knows you best and loves you most. As you absorb that everlasting love, you learn to live in union with it and grow into your true identity.
4. The remaining two stages focus on developing that intimacy between you and God. Stage four’s phrase is: “I Can’t but You Can.” During this part of the meditation you focus on being perfectly accepted for who you are, acknowledge your limitations, surrender any illusions of control, and take advantage of the divine grace needed for that day.
It's in your undoing that you find your way back to whole-hearted living.
5. Finally, during stage five you ask “What Is on Your Heart Today?” Because God really does want to speak to us and delights in the ways we reflect his life to our world. We find our deepest satisfaction by ordering our lives around his plans for us. The relationship you develop with Him becomes your inspired path to a new life.
So stay tuned as I go into depth about how this practice can help you dislodge negative, painful, or harmful emotions and recover a sense of feeling cared about and loved.