Monday, May 12, 2014

Whenever There’s A Storm, Open Both Doors (Negative Emotions)

The article title is not advice for inclement weather, but for times when life brings inner storms into our experience. It’s advice to keep in mind for good reason.

A character in the PBS program “Call the Midwife” was a former prisoner of war and was talking with a midwife who’d been put into an internment camp when she was nine years old and had to watch her mother and sister die gradually of various abuses and starvation. He realized the midwife was harboring ghosts of her past in her present, and told her that his mother always opened the front and back doors of their home when it stormed. The reasoning she’d given him when he was a child was that this way, any misery from the storm couldn’t find a home there. It would blow through.

This made me think of how much debris from prior and current negative emotional experiences we hold onto, mostly because we aren’t taught to open both “doors” so the debris doesn’t find a home inside of us, by others who also never learned this or never figured it out for themselves. Because of this, we tend to let these negative- or traumatic-emotion squatters take up residence within us. We harbor them like the criminals they are. We feed them as though they are paying visitors rather than the intruders they are on our joy and peace. We’re the ones who pay for letting them stay.

Most of us are familiar with the quote “This too shall pass,” but we usually consider this to mean the experience will end eventually. We can enhance this and decide to let it also mean we are to allow our negative attachment to the experience pass through us as well. Otherwise, the experience doesn’t really end for us, does it? We keep it alive. We repeat the story of it to ourselves and others, perhaps over and over. We dredge it up or it rises to the surface whenever we’re triggered in a particular way, as though a thought we have rushes to a filing system to call up supporting evidence for why we have a right to feel as we do, when in fact, what it means is that there is a wound that needs to be healed.

How we treat ourselves as a result is we don’t love and approve of ourselves as fully as we ought to. We feed low self-esteem or false arrogance and or behaviors that don’t serve us or bring us joy or peace or fulfillment. We feel less, so expect less. We don’t feel whole. We wear our past like a garment—we brush our teeth with it—rather than embrace our present and anticipate our future from a positive perspective, mindset, and state of being.

How we treat others as a result is often with an undercurrent of anger, frustration, or fear. We react to them more often, perhaps, than we engage and make real connection with them. We don’t trust ourselves, which we project onto them. We don’t trust them, because they project ourselves back to us, whether we realize this and are discomforted by the mirrored image or we don’t realize it and we blame them for how we continue to feel, sometimes long after a negative experience has happened.

How we respond to life as a result is we don’t trust life. We don’t believe or allow ourselves to believe that life loves and supports us, and this mindset prevents life from fully reflecting love and support back to us as our experience. We don’t or we hesitate to take calculated risks and stretch ourselves so we can learn and grow and expand our consciousness and our experiences. We hold ourselves back from our authenticity and fulfillment.

In Dave Markowitz’s book Self-Care for the Self-Aware: A Guide for Highly Sensitive People, Empaths, Intuitives, and Healers, which, by the way is an excellent book for anyone who needs to deal with grief and negativity, he includes a technique called the Keyhole. It’s a technique akin to the prisoner-of-war character’s open-both-doors philosophy. Dave realized that when we find ourselves in the midst of negative energy, or know we will, the energy will enter us energetically (he explains why energy shields are not as effective as we’d like or expect). That energy then gets trapped inside us.

This is not far-fetched. Just think of the last time you were with someone negative and how you felt during and after that interaction, possibly for a long while. Their negativity was absorbed and carried around by you, unless you used an effective technique to prevent this or to release it. Dave even states it’s important to not let the negative energy touch the sides of the Keyhole—that is, touch you in any way. The negative storm moves through your Keyhole without touching you, without any of it glomming onto you. That’s an image that’s valuable.

In life, “Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.” So many around us practiced holding onto and allowing emotional suffering to take them over that we couldn’t help but to absorb this as a natural way to be and behave. We feel bad about ourselves or feel we’ll be judged a bad person if we don’t do life this way, until of course, we learn better.

Perhaps this image may assist you. Do this the next time you’re triggered, or you might deliberately choose some emotional energy you want to be rid of now. Imagine that emotional energy as a bit or pile of debris on the floor in the hallway that connects to the front and back doors of your home (your inner self). You go to the back door and open it. You go to the front door and open it, standing aside. You invite the Great Breath of Source to blow every bit of that debris out through the back door and up into the ethers, which Source is delighted to do for you as an act of total love and support for you. Every bit of that hallway is now sparkling clean and fresh. Your ideal experience, and maybe it will take more than one such cleaning, is for what once triggered you or held you back to be a mere memory that no longer holds your attention for more than a brief second, if that. 

I realize that this is good advice but not necessarily easy to practice, especially if you’ve had a life-long habit of taking negativity in and not knowing exactly how to deal with it. It’s especially challenging to remember when you’re in the midst of an emotional storm. But, just as it’s a good idea to remove clutter from your living and work spaces, it’s a good idea to remove clutter from your inner home, so that you can move around in there with the same ease and grace and constructive, productive function you desire from your physical spaces. Such openness leads to inspired ideas and an inspired life.

And when you know a storm is coming, or suddenly find yourself in one, if you can remember to open both doors within your energy, do so. If you don’t happen to remember this at the time, remember to use a technique as soon as you can or it feels appropriate for you, to clear any residual negative energy so that you return your inner home to its true beauty, joy, and peace. It may take time, patience, and practice. But… It’s a good practice, one you’ll appreciate.         
Practice makes progress.
© Joyce Shafer

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