Fear Of Emotions – Emotophobia
‘The real goal is not to escape the human experience; it is to embrace and transcend it.‘ (Michael Neill)
Welcome To The Human Condition
The word ’emotophobia’ is a word invented by bestselling author and Transformative Coach Michael Neill.
It is pronounced as
[ih-moh-tuh-foh-bee-uh] – noun
and translated as:
1. an abnormal or pathological fear of emotions, particularly those thought of as ‘negative’ or ‘non-productive’.
Interesting word! I think it is spot on for describing a phenomena that is very prevalent in our culture, fueling far more of our behavior than we can ever imagine. Without even knowing it, we are fearful of our own emotions and we do anything in the world to not have to feel them because they challenge us and they are uncomfortable and painful.
So instead, we avoid, we suppress, we distract ourselves (very easy with a smart phone being the extension of our hand) or we express, blame and shame and create drama.
We spend huge chunks of time and energy on finding and using tools and techniques that are supposed to help us with’solving’ our feelings, in order to change them to better ones or eliminating them altogether.
Which is kind of like trying to fix or change the weather or avoid red cars because we don’t like the way they make us feel.
But here’s the thing:
There is no such thing as a solution to a feeling!
What if it would be okay to feel good when we feel good and bad when we feel bad?
What if we would allow every single emotion that bubbles up to freely flow through us without having to push it back, control it or even express it.
What if we would recognise that emotions come and go and alter as our thoughts change.
What if we would be able to understand that we never feel the world ‘out there’, but always the world ‘in here’.
What if we would be able to see that we ALWAYS feel our present moment thinking. No exception.
What if we just could offer our own warm and loving Presence to every single feeling staring us in the face, notice and fully welcome it to the table before it moves on and before we let it go.
What if there would be no need at all to prefer one feeling over another, let alone attempt to fix it?
What if we were taught as children that our feelings aren’t informing us about the state of the world, they’re informing us about our state of mind.
‘If the only thing people learned was
not to be afraid of their experience, that alone would change the world.’
Just imagine! The world would be a different place indeed.
It’s not that I don’t recognise the fact that we can change our emotional states through techniques and practice. There’s no question lifes are improved by controlling the mind (and therefore our feelings). Of course, we can set ourselves the goal to get more control over our emotional experience and move in the direction of 24/7 happiness – a life of only positive feelings without any anger, sadness, insecurity or fear. We can force ourselves to being capable of functioning at a much higher level when the ‘black dog of misery’ has us in its grip.
But, if feelings are no more (or less) than the shadows of the thoughts (conscious and subconscious) that pass through our mind from moment to moment, why would we? It is such hard work! It takes up so much of our energy to ‘fight’, manipulate and change our thoughts. I don’t think this is necessary.
Instead of discovering an even better and more effective way to manage our moods, we can discover and understand that our emotions and feelings are NOT reflecting our true nature – that they are in fact simply signposts that show us the way to a deep core of wellbeing. They let us know what needs to be felt, acknowledged, loved, forgiven, released and let go of in any given moment. They show us what needs to be cleaned and cleared from our Minds in order to get more aligned with our True Nature.
What if we would fully welcome accept and embrace the human condition?
“Be confused, it’s where you begin to learn new things.
Be broken, it’s where you begin to heal.
Be frustrated, it’s where you start to make more authentic decisions.
Be sad, because if we are brave enough we can hear our heart’s wisdom through it.
Be whatever you are right now.
No more hiding. You are worthy, always.’
To Feel Is To Heal
As a child, adolescent and young adult, I have always known this to be true intuitively. There’s is nothing wrong with the way we feel. Feeling ‘things’ is part of the entire spectrum, the rainbow if you will, of having the human experience.
Nature, as ever, has a clear purpose with feelings. Feelings are like a barometer that lets us know how aligned the content of our thinking is with who we truly are, our True Nature.
Our true nature is innate health and wellbeing. It is the vast space of pure Consciousness within us, The Void, from where ALL thoughts, as well as our wellbeing, inner wisdom and deeper feelings of love, peace and joy arise. It is ‘made of’ the same divine and intelligent energy as the vast space outside of ourselves, The Universe, The Source or God if you will.
However, this Void, this beautiful space of Consciousness within us, our Soul Space, is cluttered and contimanated with thoughts, memories and old programs and beliefs replaying in both our Conscious and Subconscious Mind.
If our thinking is ‘off’, we are in a low mood, or a low state of mind. We are inadvertently replaying subconscious memories, programs and beliefs. In our conscious mind we don’t even have a CLUE what’s going on half or most of the time. All we know is that we’re feeling low and out of sorts.
All we have to know is that this is OK and completely normal and natural! It is part of being human. We don’t have to do anything other than to hold this feeling in a space of love within and forgive ourselves for innocently holding on to those old programs replaying in our subconscious mind. Then we can choose to let go, or it lets go of us.
Our mood will shift naturally and effortlessly. No need to manipulate or change anything. There is no Positive Thinking needed to override these more negative feelings. The contrary! That would be bypassing and ignoring a signpost to true healing from within.
If there is any residue of the charge of this feeling left, don’t worry! Life will create another chance for it to arise to the surface so you can go through the process again. Welcome it, feel it, love it, forgive it, thank it, let go and let God!
We don’t have to know exactly WHAT is going on, we don’t have to analize. We can stay out of the story. The story we create around the feeling can actually take us away from the feeling. This is not what we want if we want to release, feel and heal.
Instead, we show up with totally loving and accepting Presence to our present moment feeling. That’s all we ‘need to do’.
I know it sounds easy right? It needs practice and tons of awareness. That’s why I’m such a big fan of the Mindfulness and Yoga practices in which we learn to be present to what is going on inside our Body, our Heart and our MInd.
If our thinking is aligned with that deeper dimension of who we truly are, we are in a high mood, or in a high state of mind. Naturally we feel lighter and we have deeper feelings of gratitude, love, peace and joy bubbling up.
In other words, our feelings are like a barometer telling us we are more or less aligned with our True Nature.
The Intelligence of Nature
and the Universal Mind
The deeper and innate intelligence of our being, makes sure that we project everything on another person and the world around us, that what we haven’t accepted about and within ourselves.
It is everyting that we (often subconsciously) judge in ourselves that goes ‘down under’ and lives a hidden life in the darker dungeons of our psyche. This is also called our Shadow.
That what we don’t accept about ourselves then will show up for sure in life around us. It will show up in our experience of other people’s behavior, in challenges and obstacles, losses, illnesses, minor and major disasters.
It will show up everywhere outside of ourselves untill we are ready to look within. No exceptions. This is the way life works.
Situations, other people, happenings and events are continuously holding up a mirror so that we start to see and feel what we have kept in the darker corners of our Mind.
Undigested or unprocessed feelings stored up there will come to the surface and show us the long and deeply held beliefs we have been holding in our own mind.
Innocently and most of the time subconsciously.
When this happens there are in essence two things we can do:
1. We push the feeling back behind locked doors in the dark dungeon and allow our Ego-self to project on someone else: we lash out, get angry, sad or dissapointed because of what other people do to us. We stay blind to every situation being a mirror showing us to what degree we are out of alignment with our true divine nature.
This is what most people do unfortunately and unknowingly. They get stuck and blame the world out there for the miserable situations they are in. We call this victim consciousness. Life is happening to me.
2. We get still and take time to get really present and pay attention. We allow ourselves to fully feel the raw energy of the feeling flowing through us, we welcome it to the table as a guest of honor and sit with it. We resist every urge to distract ourselves, to walk away or to express it. We infuse the feeling with our own warm Presence and the loving embrace of our Awareness. Then we petition Love or Divinity or God if you will, to correct our misperceptions or unhealthy beliefs related to the experienced problem. We ask this higher power to help us to forgive ourselves for innocently holding on to this misperception. We express our gratitude. Then we let go and we let God.
That’s it. No need to wrap the feeling up into a mind manufactured story and analasis. No need to dig into our childhood and relive certain events. In our conscious mind we have more often than not really NO CLUE why we feel a certain way and what thoughts exactly are causing us to feel this way.
All it needs is our Awareness and our Willingness to feel it, love it, fogive it, thank it and let go of it.
The Psychology Of Holes
Most of us unknowingly and innocently live in the ‘outside-in’ misunderstanding which is the understanding that the world ‘out there’ is causing us to feel a certain way:
‘What a miserable day, it is raining.’
‘He didn’t have the decency to return my call. He dissapoints me.’
‘She let me down. She made me feel sad and abandoned.’
‘They are ruining my life. I feel worthless.’
‘Her behaviour upsets me. She should change.’
Little stories we tell ourselves and others, often in the form of complaints.
Through habitual mental judgment and emotional contraction, we have a personalized, reactive relationship to people and events in our life. These are all forms of self-created suffering, but they are not recognized as such because to the ego they are satisfying. The ego enhances itself through reactivity and conflict.
There is such a thing called The Psychology of Holes that explains why we keep looking in the wrong direction (outwardly as opposed to inwardly). Those holes represent the undigested and unprocessed feelings, the unseen ‘children’ within our own being, aching to be seen, acknowlegded and loved. However, they are being kept prisoned in the dark, our shadow.
They are too ugly, too hard, too challenging to deal with and we feel deeply ashamed of them. If our friends and family see them our Ego will crumble, our mask will fall to pieces, our self constructed image of ourselves will be destroyed, our personality dies.
Our MInd or Ego-self or our false sense of self will do EVERYTHING in its power to avoid this and it has very clever and devious tricks to do this. It stays many a mile away from those holes.
Sometimes we hit the treshold of a feeling or experience but before we allow ourselves to surrender and take time to see what is on the other side of that treshold, we distract and numb ourselves with food, or people, or our own illusory thoughts and stories, or devices, sex, alcohol, drugs, shopping, Netflix, etc. etc.
This keeps us in the spell of past and future and away from the power and miracle of the Present Moment. We lose energy by doing this. It is like a vampire sucking our life-blood, robbing us from our life forces.
By turning away from those holes, we emotionally contract and cut ourselves off from the boundless energy of the Universe, of that what is far greater than our own personal Mind-self.
We start to feel tired, frustrated, exhausted, small and helpless. Therefore our Ego has to pump up itself even more.
The Power and Miracle of Now.
What we miss out on is that what is on the other side of this treshold. That what is on the other side of that challenging feeling or situation. When we allow ourselves to surrender and go through the treshold we encounter an Emptiness and most of us don’t want to feel that Emptiness. However, there is a deeper dimension to this empty feeling and it emanates Peace.
It emanates Peace, Love and Joy. It emanates that what we all so desperately long for. It emanates our True Nature.
By going within, we find it. By going through the treshold of painful feelings, we find Home. There is eternal Peace.
The Power and Miracle of the ‘Issness’ of Every Moment dissolves our ‘painbody’, right here, right now, because we give up on arguing with life and our resistance to our feelings and life’s events. We fully embrace and accept what ever arises in the present moment.
However, most of us keep looking outside of ourselves, and figuring how to fill our holes with our life stories, our posessions, our busy business and social life, our seeking ‘out there’, the newest gagdet, the latest techniques / tools and we are building on top of the holes that in essence are not even real. They innocently are self-created illusions.
This is where we get burn out. We get tired of all the searching outside of ourselves. We lose our mojo, our connection with Divinity, with our Inspiration and the natrual flow of life. We are in our own way to experience who we really are underneath the illusory realities we create.
We live our lives from our limited Minds as opposed to from Inspiration coming from that unlimited space of Consciousness.
True freedom and the end of suffering is living in such a way as if you had completely chosen whatever you feel or exprerience at this moment. This inner alignment with Now is the end of suffering.
Our unconscious mind patterns tend to come to an end simply by making them conscious, by becoming aware of them as they happen. They come to an end as soon as we stop labeling with good or bad feelings. They are just feelings.
We cannot be conscious and create suffering for ourselves. It is not possible.
Whatever our life situation is, how would we feel if we completely accepted it as it is – right Now?
Unhappiness or problems cannot survive in the Now.
Simply see what happens when we would allow every feeling to flow through us.
The Kindness and Intelligence Of the Design.
Luckily life is intelligent and loving and it wants the best for us. It wants us to be as aligned as possible to our true nature. Our true nature is our God nature, it is the vast space of Divine Energy, or call it what you like; Spirit, the Source, the Universe…it is all pointing to the same.
It is pointing to that what can’t be named because no word would be able to cover it’s Magnificence, it’s Light and it’s Love. This is ALWAYS present underneath, beyond and around our Mind-self, our ego or call it our false sense of self.
Life will reflect back to us clearly where we are out of alignment with Source, where we are caught up in our thinking mind and the subconscious memories and programs replaying over and over again. It will reflect this back in our experience of another person, a challenging situation, an obstacle in our way, a loss, an illness, physical limitations and ailments, name it, What we experience of the world out there is ALSO IN US and it needs attention. Love and attention.
This way life always lets us know what is ready to be cleaned from our Mind so the Void gets clear and Divine Inspiration can freely flow through and reach our conscious mind.
Finding Peace of Mind
Don’t deny or ignore the pain or the sadness that you feel. Accept that it is there. Beware of your mind’s tendency to construct a story around that pain in which you are assigned the role of victim. Fear, anger, resentment, or self-pity are the emotions that go with that role.
Then become aware of what lies behind those emotions as well as behind the mind-made story: that hole, that empty space. Can you face and accept that strange sense of emptiness? If you do, you may find that it is no longer a fearful place. You may be surprised to find Peace emanating from it. Only there and then we can feel Peace of Mind.
Life gives us the chance ‘to go there’, over and over again. The chance to recognise that we are caught up in our Mind-self. If we stay close and get really present to whatever it is from within that disturbs our inner peace, often in ‘reaction’ to what happens externally, we know it is time to feel and heal.
We know it is time get still and to welcome and love the feeling as a guest of honor to our table. We know it is time to forgive ourselves and to let go and let God. We are released and liberated when we patiently allow this process to take place. This is finding real freedom.
Alignment with our Innate and Profound Wellbeing
The more we do this clearing and cleaning within, the more we get aligned with our true nature, which is our innate health and wellbeing. The more aligned we are, the more inspired lives we lead. We can recognise this when we have feelings of love, joy and peace flowing through us effortlessly. We don’t have to do anything to deserve, earn or manufacture those feelings. In fact, this would be impossible.
Living this way is living in our authencity as opposed to living in our thought-created illusory reality.
All we need to do is to surrender to what arises in every given moment, feel it, love it, forgive it, thank it, release it and let go, let God. This ‘inside job’ is being done from moment to moment. All we need to do is stay present and pay attention.
There’s only two ways to live:
We can live from our thought-created Memories or we can live from Divine Inspiration.
It is up to us.
I would like to conclude with words from another one of my favorite spiritual teachers, Jeff Foster.
I think his words perfectly sum up what I’ve been trying to convey in this article.
‘It is the invisible force that keeps us running, restless, in pursuit of some intangible goal.
Caught up in some unnecessary activity.
Makes us escape into thinking.
Makes the body feel unsafe.
Makes the present moment into an enemy.
If we slow down. If we stop.
If we rest. If we simply do nothing.
Then we will have to face … ourselves.
We will have to face buried feelings.
All the sh*t we were running from.
All the darkness. The gunk. The muck.
The loneliness. The boredom. The emptiness.
Trauma says “run!”.
Trauma says “stillness is dangerous!”.
Trauma says “Do Not Rest!”.
We have to start by proving to ourselves that it is safe to rest! Safe to be still. Safe to do nothing, just for a moment. Safe to think our thoughts and feel our feelings …
… and not ‘fix’ the moment.
We can begin – one moment at a time – to digest all the undigested things inside. Stay with sadness for a moment longer. Be present with our joy. Breathe into our anxiety instead of running from it. Become curious about our discomfort instead of distracting ourselves with (unnecessary food, drink, cleaning, drugs, sex, shopping, Internet, thinking, talking, yoga, seeking, rumination, spiritual practice…)
We can begin to challenge the core story at the heart of trauma: That the present moment is unsafe. That the body is against us. That feelings are dangerous.
That stillness equals death and destruction.
That we have to ‘do’ something in order to be worthy, and loved, and safe, and whole.
It takes courage to stop running.
It takes courage to lean into the storm.
It takes courage to touch the darkness inside with the infinite light of our curious attention.
It takes courage to break the addiction to future.
And be here now.
And not know.’
– Jeff Foster
If you have any questions or would like to share something or if you need a hand in any way, please do leave a comment below.
I offer Transformative Life Coaching sessions online. Feel free to contact me for a FREE Clarity Call.
Love & Blessings,
Transformative Life Coach | Founder Young Yogis® Academy| Creator of Yogadance® Kids Method | (Kids) Yoga Instructor | Youth Mindfulness Facilitator | Energy Medicine Practicioner | Teacher Trainer | | Blog Writer at Soul Space | Cat and Ice cream lover | Dutch | Traveling House sitter| Wife and Mother
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