“I’m meeting this year with a lot of fear.”
“Fear of what?”
“Life in general. I didn’t even dare to go out during my entire break.”
“Hmm, that’s a big statement- Life in general.”
“Yeah, like what’s in store for me; what I’ve done for the last 40 years; do I have enough time? What do I prioritize? Everything is uncertain. You can’t plan ahead because it’s so unpredictable.”
“Yeah, the future is, but not the present moment.”
“I know I need to brush this feeling aside. Positive thoughts right?”
“Not necessarily. There’s such a thing as toxic positivity too.”
“So what do I do?”
“Just welcome the emotion. Be a space for it.”
We looked at the waves crashing against the shore. They appear enormous but playful and eager to kiss the sand.
A little while, the sound of the waves became louder, overwhelming, terrifying.
“See, fear can sound like that. But just like any emotion they come and go unless we choose to hang on to them.”
“What do you mean?”
“Just hold them lightly.”
“I can try, but they seem to linger like they don’t wanna go away.”
“Hmm, well, you can,”
“I never thought about that. Does that mean I don’t need to run away from them?”
“You’re right. Remember your emotions don’t call the shots. You do.”
This was the recent conversation I had with a friend. If I recall the discussions I had during the past year, most of it centered around fear, along with anxiety and grief.
The default response is to brush these “negative” emotions aside. Like we should be allergic to them. But what you resist, persists. Doesn’t it?
“Don’t fight against negative emotions-It’s exhausting. Try to embrace them instead.”Anoir Ou-Chad
I know it’s easier said than done. But would you choose to be crippled by your emotions?
While fear isn’t something I struggled with, I know a thing or two about “unwanted, unlikable, emotions”.
Eight years ago, I experienced grief over losing a loved one. At first, I didn’t know what to do with it. So I denied and buried it only to see it resurface during my “unguarded moments.”
My thought was, I needed to be strong. There are better things to do than grieving. Of course, there are. But like every life lesson, it stays on repeat until you get it, get it, get it.
One day, I said, “Okay, let’s stop running and face this head-on.”
I imagined grief approaching my doorstep looking like a weary traveler.
“Come in,” I said.
“Well, finally. I’ve been wondering when you’d invite me in. You see, I can’t leave without giving you these.”
I opened the parchment and there was a list of things that grief wanted to teach me.
- Take every opportunity to let people know how I feel about them.
- That it’s okay for me or for anyone to need someone.
- That it’s okay to miss people when they’re gone.
- But more wonderful, to create memories with them while we can.
- That every life comes to an end. That’s just how it is.
- That I can choose to honor a loved one’s memory by living out the lessons their life has taught me.
Similar to grief, I believe fear has its own intentions too. If you’re experiencing it perhaps it’s,
- Telling you that you value security. So what area of your life do you need to work on? Is it finances? Health? Relationships? Where should you invest your time, energy, and resources?
- Warning you of danger, and hence you need to protect and keep yourself safe.
- Reminding you to put your faith into action. Do you need to trust more- be it trusting God, yourself, the people around you? What are things that are beyond your control and therefore you need to let go of?
- Inviting you to see, that the universe is there to support you, not to hurt you.
- Letting you know that you’re dealing with something unfamiliar or out of your comfort zone, and such presents an opportunity for you to learn and grow.
Think about it. Every emotion has a purpose. But that purpose can never be realized if we lock them away.
So next time a “negative” emotion comes, just welcome it as you would a good friend. They are inherent to life. And if we’re to experience life in its fulness, we need to embrace every part of it, the good and the bad, however, we label them.