The Power Of Emotions
How to use any emotion to live a fulfilled and empowered life
In a world where we promote mind and rationality above everything else this is a radical and outrageous statement, isn’t it?!
Invitation to self-reflection
How do you relate to your emotions? Are there specific emotions you feel uncomfortable with? Are there certain emotions you try to avoid, push down, cover up with any kind of distraction? Are there specific emotions you are attached to, desire above all other emotions? Are you connected to your emotional world? Can you differentiate between a wide range of different emotional states? Do you know how anger, rage, desire, fear, love, excitement, nervousness feels in your body? Are there certain emotions that overwhelm you, that seem to leave you without control, that rush through and out of you and where you feel shame and regret afterwards?
I invite you to take time to sit with these questions – question by question – with closed eyes and journal what answers arise within you afterwards. To use emotions as power you need to first get to know yourself deeply in these realms. And if you don’t feel the urge to do it now, I’m pretty sure that after reading the whole article at least one part of you is highly interested and motivated to turn inwards and find your answers. Because it is freaking rewarding to know yourself. It is one of the most important steps of self-empowerment: feeling powerful, in control and capable.
The state of self-empowerment
On a side note: this amazing state of feeling self-empowered is something that is connected to your base. It is not directed towards something specific, a certain outcome, a specific endeavor. It is also not dependent on certain situations. When cultivated consistently and over time feeling self-empowered is your natural, default state. It became your nature (again). For sure there can be certain moments and situations where you don’t feel immensely empowered – maybe because a wounded part of you has been triggered, you experience a trauma response, or you are in a real violent dangerous situation – but in most situations and moments in your life, like in the very biggest part of your life, you will be connected unshakably to your power and your deep knowledge and wisdom of your capability and self-efficacy. And this connection will make you incredibly courageous and relaxed – yes, at the same time.
How you relate to your emotions or specific emotions can be utterly disempowering or almost magically fueling your joy for life, wisdom and power. It might feel like magic but it somehow is. And while talking about magic already, I disclose that there is also alchemy involved in the process of turning your emotions into power. Woohoo. But fact is also, that the process of owning your emotions fully and using them for your desires, aims, and wellbeing is a quite down to earth path that connects you with the depth of your humanity and that can be supported by well proven tools. Reflecting upon the questions I raised above is one of them, by the way.
You are not your emotions
Identification with the emotion (as well as with a thought) is usually the path of disempowerment. Identifying with an emotion (or thought) means to believe that you are that emotion (or thought). Being so involved with an emotion keeps you from experiencing freedom to be in control and to have the freedom of choice how to act in that very moment. Truth is, you are neither your emotions nor your thoughts. You are the one experiencing the emotions and the thoughts. If you were your emotion, how can it be that yesterday you “were” angry at everyone and today you could embrace the whole world with compassion?
The natural flow of emotions
Emotions are appearing, staying for a while, and dissolving in our system – as long as we don’t get clingy or avoidant. Then they get stuck. Emotions want to be lived fully. They are in their huge variety part of the amazing spectrum of human experience. They are part of the forever flowing river of life. If we don’t allow them to be lived fully (and in a mature way) they get stuck. And you know what happens with stuck water? It gets stale, musty and smelly. And similar things happen to your emotions. And at least for me, it is not very appealing to live in such an environment.
Although, almost everyone has some kind of unlived emotions. When we were children and dependent on the love of our parents, for example, we learned what kind of emotions were more lovable than others and what kind of emotions were not acceptable and entailed certain uncomfortable consequences. Like withdrawal of loving attention or another punishment.
In our childhood it usually started that we were made wrong for our emotions, that we made wrong for what we felt. And this is also the seed of distrust of ourselves, our experiences, our perception. At this time it was highly functional to learn the protective mechanisms of atuning to our parents pleasure. Because, as I said, we were highly dependent on our caregivers. Understanding that is opening the door of compassion, for ourselves and our parents (who did the best they could in each moment and often didn’t know any better either).
As we mature and get more and more independent of our caregivers, for most of us to enjoy a fulfilled life, we need to unlearn what we learned. We need to relearn that everyone of our emotions is valuable, that no emotion is better or worse than the other. We have to gain a neutral and appreciative attitude towards our emotions.
Emotions as visitors passing through
This is one of the ways of the Buddhists, for example. Treating emotions like visitors, who are just passing through. In Vipassana meditation you are cultivating exactly that: witnessing how emotions arise, stay for a while, and leave eventually. And with practice you will also witness the factors that cause their rising, their dwelling and their departure. And I can tell you that this alone is one hell of a transformative experience and insight. Nothing else to be done then to stay in the witness position and stay aware of what is going on inside of you. It is really empowering to be able to “do” that. And it comes down to practice.
Emotions as Energy
And how would it be if you are able to use the energy of the emotion to make your current state better or even better?! Wow. Are you with me?
What I suggest besides treating emotions like visitors, who are just passing through, is to enjoy and use their visit in your day to day life. Any emotion is in its core a specific form of energy, a specific vibration. Anger feels and moves differently than sadness or love, right?!
If I tune inwards I remember anger feeling like an uprising energy in my body, starting from my middle belly upwards into the chest. It is hot, powerful, sometimes like the immensely hot lava close to the center of a volcano, moving slow. Sometimes it feels like the explosion part of the volcano, the eruption and spitting. The emotion of anger gives my body the impulse to move. It is connected with a desire for movement and acting. Sadness instead feels like heaviness in my chest, a weight and a downward pulling energy. It is usually encouraging more of a still stand in my system, a dullness.
If you get familiar with the energetic footprints of your emotions you instantly feel more empowered. This is what happens if you include your body consciously into your human experience. A sensation in the body is tangible. And everything that is tangible is instantly less scary. Every emotion is manifested as certain sensations in your body. Now, your experience of a certain emotion can differ a bit from situation to situation,but the better you get to know it the easier you will identify what emotion is at the core of what you are experiencing in your body and the other way around.
Energy in itself is neutral. What you do with it is what makes it “bad” or “good”. If you let anger take over and lead to unconscious reactions, like throwing a temper tantrum that is hurtful towards others and yourself, or like ending a relationship that actually had a lot of potential because you connect your anger to the other person… this is not a good way of relating to your anger. Through emotional empowerment you can feel your anger fully and still take conscious decisions and conscious actions and steps that are in service of you and others.
Emotion as pointer & compass
Anger, as any other emotion, is also a pointer and can be a compass in your life. You don’t experience anger without a reason. You experience anger for example when one of your boundaries (conscious or unconscious) has been violated. Experiencing anger you can ask yourself in this case: Am I clear about my boundaries? Did I communicate my boundaries clearly? Are my boundaries in the right place or firm enough? Or do I have to adjust them so that I don’t feel threatened? Did this person disrespect my boundaries despite me being very clear in them?
So your anger is in this case pointing you towards overthinking your boundaries, how you communicate them, and your relationship with people. If someone is overstepping your boundaries over and over again, it might also be time to rethink the value of this relationship for you.
Emotions as decision making tool
So the experience of recurring anger can help you to make the decision about the value of a certain relationship. Is this person nourishing you or tending to cause you pain?
Despite the mainstream belief that we make rational decisions, the truth is that our decisions are usually highly emotional. Even decisions that involve money. I, for example, spend thousands of Euros in a wink of an eye on a meditation retreat or a coach, because I know in my bones that I want it and that it will serve me before my mind even knows. And then the next day I stand in front of an organic broccoli that is 3,99 Euros and I’m like, puh, that is expensive today. And I most probably won’t buy the organic broccoli that day.
I’m not suggesting that you should follow my example. I want to state an example on how emotional decisions are. If I was purely rational towards that price of the broccoli, I would have acted on the fact that I definitely do have 3,99 Euro to spend on food and won’t be starving for the rest of the week if I did spend it now on this beautiful broccoli and that this organic broccoli will nourish my body much more than the non-organic broccoli wrapped in plastic in the conventional supermarket. I would buy it in a blink of an eye.
Now, I am quite aware of these tendencies and the limiting beliefs that are behind that. And be assured, I am working on them. 🙂
What I learned and truly experienced over and over again on my path of self-empowerment ist that the more you are attuned towards yourself, the more you are able to perceive the felt sense of an emotion in your physical body, the easier it is to make good decisions.
Because your body is freaking intelligent. And the more you re-learn to trust what you feel, the more you trust the signs and pointers your body gives you when making a decision. It is also called intuition. Intuition is no woo woo, it is based on past experiences and body wisdom. Your body knows what is good for you.
Moving forward despite discomfort
Does that contradict my story with the broccoli? Not at all. Because the more I know myself and the more I get used to what my system judges as discomfortable feelings and emotions, and the more I practice to go for what I know is (more) true on a deeper level, the more empowered I am in my actions. The key is to move forward towards what you know you want despite feeling discomfort.
So, the broccoli for 3,99 Euros is triggering (among other things mainly) the cultural inherited pattern of scarcity in me. The fear of not having enough, the mindset of that there is not enough for everyone and that I need to be prepared and try to gather as much as possible. In a nutshell.
Observing my broccoli situation in full awareness makes me capable and open to understand, reconsider, transform consciously and it makes me also more capable to notice similar situations in other circumstances. How does my scarcity mindset influence other decisions and actions I take? And how I feel about things? Do I want that? Or do I want to transform into more liberation of really choosing what is best for me and facilitating my well-being and growth in any situation that appears in front of me.
To feel discomfort and still taking steps forward is what I deeply feel makes a really efficient, powerful and successful person. Fear doesn’t hold this person back from going for what they know it’s their path and mission. Those are the deeply inspiring people in this world.
Courage and bravery is not doing something without fear but despite fear.
Emotions are energy are power.
They are powerful teachers. They are powerful tools for self-reflection, for exploring your conscious and unconscious networks, for self-knowledge, for healing and self-growth. They are powerful pointers towards more nourishing adjustment in your life. They are amazing decision making facilitators. They are pure energy that is waiting to be used by you to manifest whatever you desire deeply into your life.
So, in a culture where mind is celebrated above all and where we learned to identify with our thoughts this is a radical and outrageous perspective.
I invite you to be as radical and outrageous as this perspective and re-evaluate the value you assign to your emotions (especially the “uncomfortable ones”), empower yourself in your relationship to your emotions and through your emotions. Try it on for yourself and see if it brings you closer to the fulfilling life you have always been dreaming about.
I’m excited to hear from you in the comments or in a personal message (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Does the article resonate with you? How? What are your challenges regarding your emotions? What are your experiences trying in a new relationship or perspective towards your emotions?
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