“You are the sky. The clouds in the sky are your thoughts. You have dark clouds and white clouds. Just like you would have dark thoughts and happy thoughts. Remember: you are the sky behind these thoughts.”
This is what my coach told me when I went to her in an emotional state. This stayed with me because I was going through a big change. I was in the midst of transitioning into a new job, which created excitement as well as anxiety. I was nervous about the change, and a part of me didn’t feel ready. When I become anxious, I close up and avoid the outside world rather than addressing the emotion. I lacked self-awareness.
It got to a point where I just didn’t know how to manage my emotions. I realized I went through most of my life without being in touch with my feelings; rather, I was reactionary. When I felt angry, I yelled. When I felt sad, I cried and blamed. When I felt happy, everything was beautiful. You see the pattern here: I let my feelings control me and change me.
To break this pattern, I needed to become self-aware. Self-awareness is being able to look inwards and consciously acknowledge our character, motives and emotions. The first step to this process is sitting in silence.
Being in touch with your emotions means sitting still with your feelings. Sit with them and observe them. For instance, when I felt angry, I learned to take a step back and sit still.
This is an important step: recognize the emotion, and maybe even say it out loud: I am angry. Feel this and be still—don’t feed it by reacting to it. Observe the anger and, like the clouds in the sky, know that this anger isn’t you. This is a fleeting moment, and if you choose to hold onto it, it will only create more negative energy.
Being self-aware will allow you to realize your emotions and sit with them. Of course, this isn’t easy, and it takes practice. Experiencing unpleasant feelings is tough. It’s easier to avoid and react, but in the long run, this is a trap. The self-awareness path will help you free yourself from the chains of your emotions.
In fact, do the opposite of what you normally would do. If I wanted to yell, I simply didn’t; if I wanted to blame, I simply didn’t. I didn’t let an emotion define and consume me. Instead, I let go. Believe me; this wasn’t easy. It took practice to be still, to let go and stay calm. As hard as this was at first, I knew this was the way to be ultimately free.
Imagine if everything affected us. Imagine if what anyone said impacted us and stuck with us throughout. This would create a constant internal battle, and we’d be in defense mode all the time. This world would be highly unhealthy. If we can break free from this, then isn’t it worth it?
It’s important for us to be open to the ups and downs of life by not holding on and simply experiencing these different emotions as they come and go.
Once you’ve taken the time to look inside yourself and understand your emotions, you have the ability to talk things through with the person they’re aimed at rather than at them. This way you are not attacking or pushing, but instead truly communicating. When you approach expressing your emotions calmly, the other person is likely to listen with an open heart. In any relationship, the key to success is honest and kind communication.
It takes effort to go through this process, and it certainly takes courage. Remember when you learn to process your emotions and let go, it will open up deeper connections and life will become freeing. You will be able to understand yourself and manage your emotions better by learning to cope with different situations. Life is unpredictable, and if we can learn to adapt rather than control, we can throw in the towel and stop fighting with the twists and turns of life.
The Meditation Challenge
Cultivating this practice starts with looking inwards. Set aside 5 minutes in your day to sit and be still. Do this every day, and you will learn to slowly become more self-aware. I find it helpful to use guided meditation, or you can sit in silence. When you are doing this, remember to not judge yourself. Thoughts may come up, and that’s ok, just observe them. Take this challenge and make it a habit. You have nothing to lose; you are taking 5 minutes to be with yourself. Here you have everything to gain.
As you learn to sit with yourself through regular meditation, you’ll notice things about yourself such as thoughts that come up frequently, things that trigger you and different emotions that arise. Noticing all this and remaining seated is instilling the key factors to self-awareness. This is teaching us to remain centered and let go.
Once I addressed my feelings of anxiety I was able to understand myself. I took this approach of sitting in silence and letting go of anything that I could not control. This allowed me to remain present and stop worrying about the future. I don’t have control of the future and by coming back to the now, I was able to enjoy the moment.