It can often seem impossible to let go of our negative feelings. Our natural instinct is to push negative feelings away, wishing they weren’t there but in doing so we are actually keeping the negative emotions stuck and providing them with more energy.
When it comes to letting go of negative feelings, the answer is to do the counter-intuitive thing and to acknowledge them and welcome them in. This is not the same thing as submitting to negativity and allowing it to run our lives. No. Surrendering to negative emotions is a powerful way to transmute negativity into neutral or positive energy.
Whenever a negative emotion arises, instead of wishing it wasn’t there, the key is to allow the emotion to be there, to witness it, become curious about the emotion and to bring your attention more fully into it.
Do not try to analyze, rationalize, or justify the emotion when you do this, as this will activate the thinking mind and is, in fact, a form of resistance.
“What you resist, persists”
The method I’ve described above is the same method described by countless spiritual teachers like Eckhart Tolle or David Hawkins, author of the book Letting Go.
The key take-away is not to resist our feelings but rather to allow them to be there. When we do that, something strange and counter-intuitive happens: the feelings actually flow through us and dissipate.
This is not to say they will never arise again but you will have allowed the energy of the emotion to pass through you instead of blocking it. When this happens, you become free from the negative emotion and are able to move forward in a more positive direction and with clearer energy.
As you practice this technique of allowing and watching the feeling in real time, you will likely notice shifts in your body: tension will release; posture will change; the breath will relax and deepen.
Simply put, when energy is restricted in our body (in the form of negative emotions) that energy causes our bodies to contract. In this contracted state, energy is not able to move freely. This contraction is usually felt, on the emotional level, as negativity.
It can seem counter-intuitive and downright wrong to move into the emotion rather than wanting things to be otherwise but it is futile to wish things to be different than they are in the moment. If you are feeling afraid, nervous, sad, etc.., wishing that you didn’t feel this way will only compound the problem.
Most logical, rational people will try to “think” their way out of feeling bad but this only creates more layers of resistance because ultimately, you are wanting things to be different than they really are.
Instead, stop trying to “figure out” the problem and instead focus all of your attention onto the feeling itself without trying to label or “solve” it. Become a witness to the emotion on a conscious, energetic level and go ever deeper into the feeling. Stay with the feeling as a silent witness and watch what occurs. When you acknowledge the emotion, you give it space to be and to move through you.
The emotion – the feeling – won’t kill you. It is there for a reason and has something to tell you. You need to acknowledge the feeling and let it do its job. You will quickly see that the negative energy dissipates and greater lightness will be upon you.
It took me a long time (and I have to remind myself still) to understand that feeling the emotion and allowing it to be there is the best way to move through difficult emotions. It`s very counter-intuitive to think that the more you acknowledge the difficult emotion, the faster it goes away but that is the nature of surrender: when we stop resisting and surrender to the reality of what is then energy flows; when we push against what is, then energy stays stuck.
This practice requires that you relinquish ‘understanding’ and ‘control’; letting go of negative emotions cannot be done through the mind. It is only through your conscious witnessing that you can give your awareness to the emotion.
In my own experience, allowing myself to experience my fear, my anxiety – or emotions that I can’t exactly name – brings me to a place of real vulnerability. It’s as if I’ve removed the armor of my suppression and exposed myself to life itself. For when you live only in a mind-controlled reality and never take a minute to stop and feel, you avoid feeling the reality of you, of your life, of life itself.
Something else I experience in practicing deep feeling and surrender is a profound sense of self-love and forgiveness. Going inside and connecting to the parts of you that you’ve neglected, oftentimes for years, is deeply vulnerable and intimate but you are choosing to witness and acknowledge yourself and that is nothing if not an act of self-love.
So the next time you sense negative feelings within you, do not wish them away; instead, do the counter-intuitive thing and bring your loving attention to whatever the feeling is. Give it all of your attention without mentally labeling and trying to “understand” it and watch how the emotion flows through you and leaves you feeling lighter and more open.