Learning to chill out and deal with painful emotions is a huge step toward peace and balance. More importantly, realizing that your emotions are a part of you, but they aren’t all of you.
Our emotions are closely tied to our feelings and when they come on strong they can be overwhelming. We can begin to think in extremes without repercussions, hurting ourselves through impulsive behavior like overindulging on vino, slamming a bag of Reese’s pieces, maxing out our credit cards, or worse.
Learn to Deal with Emotional Pain
1. Don’t forget the basics.
If you’re uncomfortable, you’re more likely to fly off the handle, so make sure you get enough sleep, nourishment, and leisure time. It’s easier to take what’s thrown at you when you start on balanced ground.
2. Breathe before responding.
Don’t let your emotions hijack your relationships. When you get into a heated spat, take a few breaths before responding with bitter anger or tear-filled rants. Gain your composure and go from there.
When emotions get heated that’s when you say things that you don’t mean and it just makes the problem worse. In these situations, consider keeping quiet. That way you don’t have to take something back later.
3. Consider the Eight Worldly Dharmas.
Much of our emotional instability in life is based on the classic Buddhist teaching about the Eight Worldly Dharmas. These are four pairs of opposites: four pairs of things that we like and become attached to and four pairs of things that we don’t like and try to avoid. We like pleasure and are attached to it while we don’t like pain and try to avoid it. Second, we like praise and are attached to it while we don’t like criticism. Third, we like fame and dislike disgrace. And finally, we like to gain and we don’t like to lose. Basically, when we’re feeling good our thoughts are pleasure, praise, fame, or gain and when we’re feeling bad our thoughts are pain, criticism, disgrace, or loss.
While at first you might see eradicating these emotions as the only way to alleviate the roller coaster that they cause, but that’s impossible. According to Pema Chödrön, it’s best to see how they hook us, how they color our reality, and then realize that they are not real. In meditation, you can start to see how closely these emotions are tied to thoughts and begin not reacting to them quite so much. Start to label the Worldly Dharmas for what they are.
4. Cut the judgement.
Don’t judge your emotions. By judging them you begin to get caught up in the drama. Instead, just notice how they come in and go out. Feel the emotions as you sit with them without reaction or judgement. After a time, you’ll begin to notice now quickly they change. In the end, emotions are constantly changing like clouds in the sky. The more you practice detaching from these emotions, the more you can find freedom from emotional pain.
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