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How to Move Beyond Emotional Pain

photo: Karl-Ludwig G. Poggemann on flickr

photo: Karl-Ludwig G. Poggemann on flickr

If you’re reading this, you’ve already bought your ticket to the human experience.

As you know, it can be a fun ride. Food, sex, moonlight cruises. There are some great perks to this human gig.

But it can also be challenging.

We lose things – jobs, people. Stuff happens. We fall down and it’s hard to get back up.

I’ve been around a half century so far, and I’ve found that the best way to deal with everything on the human ride – both “good” and “bad” – is spiritual practice.

photo: Vinoth Chandar on flickr

photo: Vinoth Chandar on flickr

For me, that means daily meditation and affirmative prayer. Plus exercise and healthy eating. And a nightly gratitude practice with my wife Melissa.

Spiritual practice helps me keep everything in perspective. It keeps me tuned into something bigger than me, something so awesome and loving and expansive, it never fails to keep me on track.

Except when it doesn’t.

Like the other day, for example.

I was in a moooood. And I don’t mean a peppy, cheery happy-go-go mood.

I was pissed. Or sad. Or annoyed. Or something.

I wasn’t even sure what I was feeling.

photo:Vox Efx on flickr

photo:Vox Efx on flickr

Whatever it was, it wasn’t going away. It started soon after I woke up – for no reason at all. There were no specific thoughts associated with my foul mood, other than This sucks. Why do I feel like crap? No fun!! Did I mention how much this sucks?!

As many of you know, I’m a big fan of the work of Abraham-Hicks, aka Abe. I have used many of their techniques to change my life for the better.

When faced with the prospect of a human being in a foul mood, Abe has two main responses.

The first is: Look for a better-feeling thought. You trace down the thoughts that are causing your bad mood, and then gently and gradually shift these thoughts into a more positive direction.

I’ve used this technique frequently and gotten great results. A spontaneous burst of gratitude can work wonders to lift me out of a funky place.

photo: Scott Ableman on flickr

photo: Scott Ableman on flickr

The other day, however, was not one of those days.

I tried to find things to be grateful for, but it only seemed to make my mood worse.

Why are you trying to talk me out this? Can’t you see that everything sucks?

Which brings me to Abe’s second response to a human being in a foul mood:

Distraction.

Sometimes it’s just better to remove yourself from your current situation and/or thought process. You’re too stuck in negativity and it’s better to just shift your focus to something else altogether.

Take a walk. Or a nap.

photo: Hamed Saber on flickr

photo: Hamed Saber on flickr

Anything to break the negative cycle.

My favorite forms of distraction are sleeping and meditating. Both of these activities are great ways to help me shift to a more positive place.

Most of the time.

The other day, I tried meditating. When I was done, I had not shifted even an eeny weeny, teensy bit away from my bad mood. Which, of course, only made me even madder. Or sadder. Or whatever I was.

So I tried something else.

I stopped in my tracks and brought all of my focus into the present moment. In this case, my present moment was dominated by my funky mood, so I allowed myself to give into it. Completely.

I allowed myself to feel all of my feelings.

I felt the anger and the sadness and the annoyance. The emotions washed through me like a huge tide. And it was huge. Bigger than me. Bigger than anything. It actually felt great to simply feel it.

And that’s when everything shifted.

By allowing myself to simply feel, my energy was no longer stuck. In feeling the enormity of my emotions, I was somehow also feeling the enormity of the Divine.

I felt safe. And protected.

photo: eyeliam on fllickr

photo: eyeliam on fllickr

And I realized that what I had been feeling – the weird emotional state that was like anger and sadness and annoyance – was grief.

A friend of mine is really sick. He might not get better.

I was grieving. And I just needed to feel it.

Melissa worked with don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements, for several years. When I told her about my experience the other day, she said that this was exactly what she had realized after her work with Miguel:

If you’re feeling like crap, it’s because you’re telling yourself a lie.

That’s why processes like distraction or finding a better-feeling-thought can work so well. They can help shift your thoughts to a more positive place, thus shifting your mood.

The one exception to this rule, Melissa said, was grief.

Grief just needs to be felt.

photo: binu kumar on flickr

photo: binu kumar on flickr

I love Abe. Like I said, they’re my current go-to spiritual teacher. But in this case, I had to go beyond Abe’s tips and techniques and rely on my own inner wisdom.

In fact, Abe is such an awesome spiritual teacher, they say the same thing:

Don’t listen to us. You have to learn to trust yourself and your own inner guidance.

Looking back on the experience of the other day, I can see that it was a combination of things that helped me get out of my funk:

I tried finding a better-feeling-thought and it didn’t seem to work. I tried distraction – in the form of meditation – and it didn’t seem to work. Then, following meditation, I came fully into the present and felt my feelings.

I kept at it – continuing to open up to different forms of help – until I found one that worked.

There are all kinds of ways to move through emotional pain. Some involve active techniques like distraction or finding a better-feeling-thought. Others are more surrendered – like “simply” allowing the emotions to flow through you.

There’s no one right way.

But if we stay open, and flexible, and keeping asking for Help, we’ll find it.

Every time.

And that’s what I’ve learned in my half-century so far.

Well, that and vital importance of flossing.

But that’s another post.

photo: Rob Boudon on flickr

photo: Rob Boudon on flickr

How do you move through emotional pain? Share your comments below!

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23 Responses to How to Move Beyond Emotional Pain

  1. Mary March 25, 2014 at 2:02 am #

    Thank you for sharing this. I’m a big fan of Abe too. I find their teaching amazing AND have also found myself in a position where what they teach doesn’t get me where I want to go. You are spot on with the grief component. At the end of 2013, my sister died. A week later, I found a lump in my breast and a month later found out it was cancer. Fortunately the cancer is curable.
    I’ve been using Abraham’s wisdom profusely, with a great deal of success. I believe for the most part I am in the best possible place I can be to start chemotherapy next week. But sometimes it just doesn’t get me there. I believe you have named exactly why-grief. So thank you. I will find myself some time and safe quiet space to let go of the resistance letting the grief flow. I’m also using the wisdom of Louise Hay. My current and strongest affirmation is “I move through this experience with grace and ease.” With the insight you offered today, I will continue to realize this affirmation. ~Namaste~

    • Aloha Lani March 25, 2014 at 6:46 am #

      Mary; My heart goes out to you, touched by what you have been going through & inspired by your heart, your courage & strength.

      I have had 2 bouts of breast cancer… was guided (from within) not to do chemo or radiation, as at the time my body was too burnt-out. I honor your path… knowing you have chosen from your own wisdom.

      I so appreciated your quote from Louise Hay! I am currently (well, for the past 14.5 years) have been going through chronically disabling health issues… & that quote gives hope – for yes, it is possible to go through our challenges with grace & ease. Thank you for that reminder!

      I wish you tremendous grace & ease, inspiration & peace on your healing journey…

      <3

    • Z Egloff March 25, 2014 at 11:04 am #

      Hi Mary,

      Thank you so much for sharing this. I’m touched by your process and your willingness to share it with us. I love how open you are to all the different ways to move through this experience. And I love the affirmation you have chosen for yourself – beautiful! I appreciate Louise Hay as well and have gotten a lot from her teachings. I’m sending you lots of love and healing juju as you move through this part of your journey.

      XOZ

      • Mary March 25, 2014 at 4:17 pm #

        Thank you ladies! I appreciate all of the good juju I can get. :)

  2. Antonia March 25, 2014 at 6:29 am #

    Thank you Z
    …for your multi-layered message. This is a juicy one, my friend. I read, followed and appreciated your experience and how you gained new perspective.

    “If you’re feeling like crap, it’s because you’re telling yourself a lie.” zinged me to the core. It is my lesson for today. The timeliness of this short and sweet sentence couldn’t have been better. I’ve been holding my spiritual breath for days, and now I can rest … and trust that all will be shown … and eventually resolved.

    This sentence attributed to you may appear in one of my upcoming blog posts if that’s ok with you.

    xo
    Antonia

    • Aloha Lani March 25, 2014 at 6:40 am #

      Thank you, Antonia, for referencing that line.
      It too zinged me… powerful!

      All the best… <3

    • Z Egloff March 25, 2014 at 11:06 am #

      Hi Antonia,

      You can totally use this sentence in a blog post – I would be most honored. And I’m grateful that it has resonance for you. Yay! This particular thought/concept has gotten me through many a rough patch. It really can shift everything. :)

      XOZ

  3. Aloha Lani March 25, 2014 at 6:36 am #

    Wow. What Divine timing.

    Today (well, yesterday, by the clock’s hour) I had a similar experience.
    Similar in that no matter what I did, “it” wouldn’t go away.

    Until I let myself feel it…
    Sadness & grief arose.
    So much, that at one moment I was afraid I’d be sucked down the endless hole.

    This time, rather than believe my fears, I reached out to a friend, leaving a message barely audible between the tears. Then I texted, just to be sure she got it, that I was reaching out, afraid of drowning.

    For me, feeling it deeply, & reaching out when really scared, was a new practice.

    Usually I try to go it alone. Yes, I pray… I ask for assistance. But there is still a part of me that believes I should handle it. That sharing it with another is spreading negativity. Hmmmn. Time to question that belief!

    This time I let it flow, let myself feel the grief; knowing I had reached out, both inwardly & outwardly.

    I then fell asleep. (Forgot to mention I hadn’t slept the night before, so I was ripe for strong emotional reactions).

    I too was letting go – something not easy for me. More truthfully said, something I still find quite hard to do. And the fact I don’t let go easily has it’s negative effects on me & my health… so it behooves me to catch on to letting go!

    In the past, long ago, the grief would turn into very debilitating depressions – so the fear of being sucked down had some basis in prior experience.

    Yet today I am not that same being. I have more faith. I have more experience. It is becoming easier to surrender to the moment, to feel what arises, to let the tears stream down my face, no matter what my inner critic might be saying, with a *knowing* in the background that I will get through this.

    Before napping, I had an experience of Grace, where I felt to chant a Hawai’ian chant that honors the Divine. It soothed me, reminded me there was much more than what I was feeling in the moment. I felt the inner connection that is always there (that I turn away from, when I forget.)

    I slept. My friend called me back & very kindly & compassionately listened as I shared of my losses. Her Presence helped me remember to laugh, to honor what I was feeling, to know it too shall pass.

    Together we even saw some things I could learn from the whole experience (it was a jumble, mixed with working through old stuff, disappointments & realizing the expectations I had had…).

    This beautiful being also reminded me of my Truth… which helped me share the Truth I saw & felt in her. So what in the past could have turned into a deep depression transformed into insights, laughter, tears & gratitude.

    Chanting shifted things so that I could nap… recognition of the Divine offered some peace that before I had not been able to access. It was pure Grace that showed me the chant & brought me the melody. And my friend’s Presence was pure Grace.

    Indeed, now as I look at the losses, though there are still vestiges of grief, I find myself in gratitude – for a new experience… for insights… for doing it differently & it working!

    Mahalo Ke Akua! (Thank You Divine!)

    • Z Egloff March 25, 2014 at 11:11 am #

      Aloha Lani!

      What a beautiful story. I love all the different layers here – how you prayed, and reached out, and chanted, and just allowed the feelings. And all of it together created this space of Divine grace.

      For me, really allowing myself to fully feel the feelings, not holding back, paradoxically allows them to move through me and leave! It still amazes me every time. Then there’s room for the Divine. NOT really feeling our feelings is so supported by our culture, it can be hard to do so. But having friends to talk to really helps. And spiritual practice helps too. And everyone is different in what works for them.

      Thank God we all have each other to share and learn from – another form of grace! :)

      XOZ

      • Mary March 25, 2014 at 4:14 pm #

        It is so good that you reached out for help. That is one thing I did that was definitely outside my comfort zone was ask for help. I set up a private page on Facebook and invited a very select group of people to join me in my journey. I created the space with a very clear purpose in mind- to deliberately create a healing circle for me. I asked myself, “What do I want from this circle?” Here are the answers that followed:

        1. I wanted to create a safe place in which I can be vulnerable as I move through my healing experience. A space that is kind, gentle and loving.

        2. I wanted the focus to remain on the positive, better feeling thoughts that will move me in the direction of well-being and joy.

        The result has been amazing. Each person that agreed to join the circle has brought a special gift to my healing journey.

        Yes, reaching out for help is a very good thing.

        • Z Egloff March 26, 2014 at 11:27 am #

          Mary, This is awesome! I love this idea. Wow! Kudos to you for doing this – I can see that this will be a HUGE support for you. And it’s a great idea for all of us to know about. Thanks for sharing it. :)

        • Aloha Lani March 26, 2014 at 11:37 am #

          Wow Mary!
          What a fabulous idea!

          And what great intentions…

          Would you be willing to share a bit more about the balance of being vulnerable with what comes up, while staying focused on remaining positive?

          I ask because “victim” thinking has been a habit that I am practicing noticing & shifting out of…

          And it seems a dichotomy to be vulnerable when something is up (which I am interpreting as being triggered, reacting, having other than peaceful feelings – e.g. “negative” emotions) & at the same time being positive…

          Would you be willing to say more? Clarify how you see it?

          Thanks in advance…

          • Mary March 26, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

            I would use Abraham’s 17 seconds. If I had something that I needed to express, but didn’t want to put a lot of focus on it, I’d start the post with the disclaimer “17 SECONDS”. Then as briefly yet as honestly as I could, I’d state the issue, situation or concern. Then I’d try to follow it as quickly as I could with a positive perpective or something that I learned. If I couldn’t do that, then usually a member of the group would come up with a perspective I hadn’t considered and it re-framed everything in a better light.

      • Aloha Lani March 26, 2014 at 11:30 am #

        So true about the Grace of having one another…
        Such a gift!

  4. Wendy March 25, 2014 at 8:14 am #

    As always, you rocked it Z. Thank you for your willingness and ability to be vulnerable in your posts. It is how you connect, with us, your readers. The timing is beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

    :)
    Wendy

    • Z Egloff March 25, 2014 at 11:13 am #

      Hi Wendy,

      Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it. I appreciate your kudos for my willingness to be vulnerable – a good reminder for me! :)

      XOZ

  5. Sauda March 25, 2014 at 5:53 pm #

    I think the being with however I feel and feeling it is one of the most powerful techniques because it’s me giving up ALL resistance and allowing myself to be just as I am. It’s like I’ve completely surrendered and given in to what is because at some level doing all the other techniques in the background is that there is something wrong with where I am. Also taking a nap is the same thing for me.

    • Z Egloff March 26, 2014 at 11:25 am #

      Hi Sauda! :)

      I like that you point out that allowing ourselves to just feel everything we’re feeling is about releasing resistance – it’s so powerful to do that. And, for me, it connects me to Source. Even if I have to go through some “bad-feeling” feelings to get there. When I really feel them, they’re no longer “bad.” And, like you say, sometimes techniques can take us out of ourselves, and be a judgment about where and who we are. And then there’s always naps! :)

      XOZ

    • Aloha Lani March 26, 2014 at 11:43 am #

      Hello Sauda;
      I really resonated with what you wrote…
      I realize that often I am not comfortable surrendering to what I am actually feeling…
      That I have been in judgment of it, that I distract, or try to change, or numb out, feeling I should be/feel other than I am in the moment.

      Yet I have had moments of allowing, of not running, of being with, embracing…
      And it does transform, when felt as fully as I can in the moment.
      The energy shifts. Tears may flow, anger may arise, anything may come up.
      Then, like a storm, the rainbow comes out.
      The pearls of the experience are shown.

      Thank you for the reminder to be with…
      Rather than trying to change with techniques (which often haven’t worked, as my self is wanting to be embraced, not judged.)

      Thanks again.

  6. Donna March 27, 2014 at 9:11 am #

    Music is my most effective way to shift my energy. Usually a song or chant will come to me –Melissa, Karen Drucker, Linda Webb-Khakaba, and Michael Stillwater are favorites. Sometimes I walk and sing –moving to the music. If I can’t sleep, musical prayers go through my mind. If I am congested like now, again, “Open my Heart” becomes “Open my breath”. I feel free to change words as that comes to me.

    I also listen to Abraham’s “Getting into the Vortex” meditations. This has calmed me, brought me peace and understanding in several of the most distressing times. On one occasion I actually fell asleep.

    I plan to meditate on “If you feel like crap, you’re telling yourself a lie.” I’ve sure felt like crap this week. I’ll see what happens.

    Blessings.

    • Z Egloff March 27, 2014 at 9:46 am #

      Hi Donna,

      Music is amazing, isn’t it?! I too find that music can be an amazing, instantaneous way to shift my emotions/thinking. I like that you point out that we can change the words to fit whatever we’re going through. Or make up a chant ourselves!

      Sending you love and blessings as you transcend the crap!! :)

      XOZ

  7. Karen March 30, 2014 at 9:20 pm #

    Wow, such beautiful sharing here!!!! I am touched and can’t think of a single thing to add. It’s all been said by Z and the commenters in such perfect ways.

    • Z Egloff April 4, 2014 at 11:36 am #

      Hi Karen,

      I too was touched by the comments for this post. And I loved that there was so much sharing back and forth among the commenters. Very very cool. :)

      XOZ

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