During the past few weeks, I’ve had a lot of emotion coursing through me, and I haven’t exactly been hiding it. It has ranged from intense sadness to fierce anger to utter exhaustion. There have been many evenings where I didn’t feel like doing anything but meditating and sleeping.
I feel so intrigued by the reactions other people have had to this phase. Some immediately assumed that something was “wrong” and that I needed “fixing.” Some were obviously uncomfortable with my intense emotions and thought I should be less transparent about what I was feeling. Some seemed to express surprise: you’re a coach, why do you still have upsetting emotions?
As if coaches are “perfect.” As if the definition of “perfect” is never to have any intense emotions.
I have a different philosophy about this. I believe in showing my “process” when it comes to intense anger, grief, and heartbreak. I believe that showing my “process” and acknowledging my humanity and vulnerability enhances my ability to teach, because I don’t show the world a fake shiny image. I show the real me. And that is, after all, what I preach and what I teach.
Authenticity is more naturally attractive than any technique or ploy or cultivated image will ever be.
Are these intense emotions — anger, grief, despair, apathy, rage — are they “bad”? I don’t think so. They are part of the full spectrum of life. We yearn to have someone tap into the aliveness of those emotions for us. We give Academy Awards to actors and actresses who are able to reach deep inside themselves and give us that experience.
Are these emotions “bad” … that’s like asking: Is a heavy rainstorm “bad”? I don’t think so. When it pours, I go mountain biking and soak up the intensity and sensuality of it.
We only suffer when the emotions get “stuck.” Mine rarely get stuck anymore. They flow so beautifully that even anger or sadness can feel “good” because it feels alive. It feels real. It feels like it’s lifting off yet another layer of ego so that my world becomes more and more beautiful, more and more peaceful.
And yesterday, when the layers of anger and sadness came off, what was revealed was inspiration. I suddenly had some really, really exciting ideas for this blog and my coaching practice, and I’m now off and running with those. Very cool things coming soon!
So what are some tips for transforming anger into inspiration?
1. Don’t be afraid of the intensity of the feeling. Embrace the feeling. Dare to feel. The worst thing we can do is run away from sadness or anger. This just sends it underground, where it feeds the Shadow Self and wreaks havoc in our lives.
2. Give the feeling space. Another unhelpful thing people tend to do is react to the feeling, which often means taking it out on someone else. Lately, I’ve been retreating into meditation instead. I told a friend that I was feeling very grumpy and didn’t want to take it out on him, so I’d check back in a couple of days. Sure enough, we reconnected tonight, and I’m in a much better mood.
3. Feel the feeling in its pureness instead of attached to someone or something. I’ve been experimenting lately with feeling anger and sadness as pure feelings, without “thinking” they are caused or even triggered by something in my environment. I’ve found the emotions feel much better this way, almost like fireworks that I’m sitting back and enjoying.
4. Meditate, sleep, rest. Meditation, combined with rest, for me, allows the feeling to be integrated. Last year around this same time, I spent about three weeks doing little else, then went to Burning Man, and suddenly came the inspiration for this blog. Others may judge us as “slovenly,” but that’s not how I see it at all. I see these as periods of rest and integration that prepare the ground for our next great adventure.
5. Sink deep enough into the anger to find the sadness and any old memories or triggers that are attached to it. Anger — and also anxiety — are almost always cover-ups for other emotions, usually sadness. Ungrieved losses from earlier in our life need to be grieved. Usually once I find the underlying sadness and sink into that, the anger also dissolves.
6. Stand up for yourself. I find that anger can be very useful as a catalyst for setting new boundaries about how I expect to be treated by other people. It is often anger that leads me to say “enough is enough” and put my foot down. If done in a non-violent way with compassionate communication, this can be very effective and actually bring other people CLOSER to us.
7. Use anger as a catalyst. There have been several pivotal moments in my life that arose out of anger. Like the Phoenix out of the ashes. One was when I was 16 years old, and wrote a journal entry in which I swore to change my life. From there, everything shifted. Another one happened yesterday. These are the moments in life when we are able to make major changes very quickly.
8. Emotional Freedom Technique. After meditation and rest, I often find that a solid EFT session will transform the anger and sadness completely. Once the heavier emotions have lifted, I often find myself full of inspiration and new ideas for blogging, coaching, and other pursuits. That’s what happened yesterday.
So I’ll continue to be transparent about whatever I’m feeling. I will continue to be the real me. And I am so excited to unveil the fruits of this anger-inspired creativity!! :-)
About the Author:
Erika Awakening is a Harvard Law School graduate and former practicing attorney. She left the rat race to become a location-independent entrepreneur, holistic life coach, blogger, speaker, healer, and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT tapping) expert. Erika Awakening is one of the world's foremost experts on eradicating limiting beliefs and lifestyle design on your own terms. Learn more about Erika Awakening
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