I’ve been hearing about and trying to understand what it means to “watch” my emotions for years now.
Ever since reading The Power of Now over 15 years ago, I’ve understood that there is a profound power in being able to witness our thoughts and emotions.
But I don’t think I’ve ever really experienced what that was like or had much success with it.
As much as I’ve tried to feel my emotions and “let them be there”, I would still struggle with the same emotions time and time again.
As much as I wanted to witness my emotions, it seemed like I could never actually do it.
Well, recently I’ve had a breakthrough with that..
I think I’ve understood a fundamental piece that’s been missing for me all of these years.
You see, I would watch my emotions and try to “notice” them but underneath that, there would always be some degree of desire or intention to change or influence them.
You see, I’m a big believer in the idea that we can shape our lives through how we think and feel. So whenever I’d try to tap into my feelings and notice what was going on, I’d quietly be trying to direct my feelings somewhere else. I’d be trying to influence them.
This “control” that I was issuing to my emotions was blocking me from truly allowing whatever I was feeling to be there – and that kind of defeats the purpose…
What I learned lately – and it’s a pretty radical shift – is to want nothing to be different.
Do not try to influence anything!
Allow yourself to experience the emotion without trying to fix it or alter it in any way… and see what happens.
Notice how your relationship to the emotion changes.
Notice how you don’t feel like you are that emotion anymore.
There’s a subtle power in doing this.
You de-energize what you were battling against.
You separate from it and it becomes like watching a child innocently playing in the sandbox.
You are no longer saying “no” to the feeling. And you are no longer wishing it was different from the way it is.
This can start with a physical sensation, too. Just notice the body, the pain or discomfort, and try to approach it with an open curiosity.
See what happens.
On the flip side, trying to change things through force of will alone will only keep it stuck.
Take my word for it. I’ve been trying to “surrender” my feelings for years but only ever experienced short-lived superficial changes because I was never really allowing the feeling to just be there and to do its thing.
To make significant changes to your inner world, I believe that what’s required is to fully surrender to what you feel.
This does not mean you are giving up or giving in to the feelings or ideas in your head.
This is not an act of weakness or defeat.
In fact, it’s the opposite.
This type of surrender takes strength and courage. To feel pain or discomfort without wanting to change it in any way is a unique challenge.
It’s very counter-intuitive but the effects can be profound.
Wishing for things to change and pushing against what you don’t want will only keep it there.
Instead, approach your thoughts and feelings with a gentle curiosity. Be there like an objective examiner of what’s happening inside of you.
Don’t try to affect or change anything.
See how things shift for you internally.
See what’s there and see what happens.