I have watched many people go through the dark night of the soul.
I’ve been through it myself more times than I care to admit.
What I've experienced is that there are many levels and layers before we hit rock bottom. And many emotions on the way back up too!
The human experience isn’t black and white, good or bad, up or down. We can’t simply decide to stop being depressed or angry and be authentically joyful and light hearted in an instant.
Just talking about it this way sounds ridiculously unreasonable doesn't it?
Yet this is what we often expect of ourselves and others.
It’s very tempting to want to 'chop off' those parts of ourselves that aren’t cooperating with how we’d like our lives to be. It’s natural to want to “get rid of the negative and be more positive”.
Trouble is, there's a program running in our minds and in the greater society mind too. One which brings to life all of these harsh and intolerant patterns of being that don’t serve us well. And it's rehearsed over and over, throughout our lives. It's little wonder we in the West are apparently in a mental health crisis.
When we’re down and out we want to escape our emotions. We don’t like it! We hate it even! We have no tolerance for it. We certainly haven’t been raised as a culture to nurture ourselves when we feel this way. So instead we have a societal push to refuse our feelings. There are all kinds of connotations we have concocted for anger and depression - any of the big emotions.
So when we experience them, we beat ourselves up (and whoever else we can blame) for countless reasons. When it all goes pear shaped this is perceived as a natural response.
It’s also really unhelpful.
There’s a tendency to use words like “Pull yourself together! Don’t be so negative! Suck it up! Just get on with it!”, etc.
So if we genuinely want to address this issue in our own lives and the lives of our families, friends and communities, we need a new approach and a cultural shift.
A shift towards loving kindness.
One of my wise mentors says we need to ask ourselves, “What would LOVE do?”
Please lets stop being so hard on our human side.
Being kind doesn't mean we resign ourselves to being with the suffering forever.
This is really important, because this is perhaps the fear that prevents us from allowing our pain to be noticed in the first place. We don't want to go there, just in case we get stuck there.
But here's the thing.
As a Therapist I have witnessed time and time again, healing after healing when big emotions (the ones no one likes) are companioned in the true spirit of loving kindness. I believe it’s one of the big reasons we’re here. Life and all its challenges is a call to love! A call to be courageous in the face of fear, a call to be loving when everyone else is being harsh, a call to be compassionate when it feels so natural not to be. Self loving kindness is the most gentle way through the dark.
When we acknowledge ourselves and others in this way, we allow ourselves to be heard! What are these negative emotions if they aren’t smoke signals to get our attention! Big Emotions are masters at getting our attention. They remove all other distractions so that we will finally stop for once and BE.
Once we do, we’re called to nurture ourselves with tenderness. To stop and ask “what have I been skipping over?”
Big emotions make us stop and listen within.
They’re much, much easier to face when you have someone who knows this to sit with you and to work out together what you’ve been ignoring.
So it’s really important to not just 'chop ourselves off' from our big feelings and expect ourselves to instantly decide to be different and soldier on. If we do, they (the big emotions) might cooperate and be quiet for a while longer, but if you haven’t met the needs that your emotions have been trying to point out to you, they’ll likely be back!
Love is the answer. Always.
Love is curious and wants to know how it can help.
Love wants to get to the core of you.
Love wants to envelop you and tell you, you are beautiful in every aspect of your human heart self.
Love wants to heal your pain and suffering.
Love wants to be with you until the dark night is over.
Be that love.
For yourself and for your family and for your partner and for your friends.
Imagine the world we live in being filled with tolerance and compassion and patience for all the big feelings on our planet today!
This is heart coherence in action. This is the power of the human heart to heal.
So learn to let the feelings do their job.
Learn to BE love.
If you or someone close to you needs support to listen lovingly to your big feelings, please reach out for some support. If you don't feel comfortable asking for help from someone close to you, reach out for some help from a good counsellor or therapist.