I recently had a real shift with fear. I woke up angry two nights in a row. Just outraged. Things from my present melting into things from my past. I was so pissed. I think smoke was coming out of my nostrils. Good thing no one was around.
Growing up, the climate in my household was one of eggshells and, frankly, a constant, underlying fear. I learned to anticipate what I thought people would need, to be quiet/invisible, to be pleasing. Anger was not a safe emotion to express and we did not dare have it. It stayed under.
My husband grew up with a fiery (Bohemian, he says) family, and he is also a pitta – intense, spirited. Sometimes red-hot mad. I LIKE that he expresses emotion, even that one. He is comfortable expressing anger, which was hard for my little-girl cowering self. But anger is a normal emotion; a part of the human experience.
Since my late-night anger sessions, I have found myself with considerably less fear. Which is amazing because existing in fear is no way to live. It chips away at everything we have – our understanding of who we are in the world, our sense of safety (obviously), and ultimately, our joy.
While it’s important not to just spew our anger all over each other, it’s also super caustic to ignore or deny it. It’s a line we have to walk, lest we fester or alienate everyone.
Past conditioning can set up present patterns
When I first met my husband, I was very protective of myself. I would do/say things that would anger anyone and then be like: “What are you going to do about it, huh?” I was a total provoker, fists balled. But as the years and our marriage went on, I found myself retreating into what I had always known: trying to anticipate needs or potential anger-causing scenarios, and prevent them. This was the stuff I was steeped in during my formative years, and it was comfortable.
Until it wasn’t (comfortable), and I wanted more for myself. And I think on some level my husband sensed this tip-toeing around song-and-dance, which actually pissed him off worse than if I would just go ahead and piss him off in the first place. I mean, we LIVE together. We take care of CHILDREN together – shit’s gonna get real from time to time.
Emotions and Boundaries
Growing up living to please (in order to feel safe) meant that I had very poor personal boundaries. I did whatever. Never mind where you end and I begin.
There is a fundamental kundalini yoga pose that involves grinding your stomach in a circle. The teacher says to start by going in the counterclockwise direction (you eventually go the other way). Figuring out what direction to go has always puzzled me and I never thought it was weird to be confused until I brought it up to my husband one day when we were doing yoga: “Counterclockwise from what angle?” I asked. He was like “Wha?” And I said “You know, from their perspective or mine?” And he was like “There is only one counterclockwise” and basically refused to entertain or understand what I was saying. Essentially I was wondering if I was supposed to go OUTSIDE myself for this reference or if it was ok to count MYSELF as the clock.
This is pretty scary. My husband can recognize that there is only one perspective to form a reference point from – ONE’S OWN. And I was thinking that I needed to look OUTSIDE of myself for the perspective, or that my perspective didn’t count or some shit.
Of course, we want to be able to see things from different perspectives in life, so that we can have empathy and form common ground with people. But this was something in my BODY and I couldn’t find my own viewpoint. WTF?
When we can identify our emotions, we can start to see where our boundaries lie. Where we end and the other begins, and where we draw the line in terms of what happens to us. And then we can take care of ourselves, feel good, and thrive.
The Emotional Guidance Scale
Abraham Hicks (my favorite non-physical, wise ‘ol teacher) designed something they (they are a group of entities, I know that sounds over-the-top weird, but there it is) called an “emotional guidance scale” of emotions ranging from positive emotions such as joy, appreciation, and love (the highest) to fear, despair and powerlessness (the lowest). This scale of emotions helps identify where our vibration is…the closer we are to joy and freedom, the higher our vibration and the further we are from freedom and joy, the lower our vibration. Lower vibrations feel crappy and higher vibrations feel good.
My anger was actually a shift UP on the emotional guidance scale. Fear is considered a “lower” emotion, as in, a survival mechanism, and anger is a step up from that. So despite my incensed nights, I was glad to see anger come.
Abraham talks about this emotional guidance continuum like it’s a ladder – each rung represents a higher evolution in whatever area is generating the emotion.
This is Abraham’s Emotional Guidance Scale. At the top you find the higher vibrational feelings like love and joy, and as you go toward the bottom you get the real stinker emotions like hatred, jealousy and despair.
The emotional guidance scale is a good tool to identify where we are at. If we know where we are, we can look for where we want to go. We can work on climbing the rungs of the ladder incrementally, because we can’t jump all the way from fear to bliss. We have to make some pit stops along the way – in my case, from fear to anger. I love knowing about this scale because then I don’t have to feel bad about being angry – I can see that it is actually progress.
Moving out of fear
With this fear shift, I started to allow my husband to get mad. I don’t actively TRY to cause chaos, but if he gets mad, I live. When someone is angry with me, I try to stay in my body. I tell myself to breathe, I come out on the other side, and hey – I’m ok.
The best thing is that now the anger from those two midnights is gone – it has moved through – and I am still free of the fear. Not ALL of it, but the shift seems to be sticking. I’m so grateful.
How to Move up the Emotional Guidance Scale
Would a post of mine be complete without a list? Lets make it short. How can we scamper up the scale and feel fantastic?
- Don’t force it. Allow whatcha got emotionally, relax, let it move through.
- Help someone or give someone something – it’s such a kick.
- Remember that even one step up is a step in the right direction.
- Yoga, meditation, breath work, walks in nature – do it, bring it, own it, make it happen.
- Laugh – watch a comedy, go to a comedy show, play a game with family or friends, karaoke – BE SO SILLY!
- Dance it out! Put on your favorite tunes and go for it.
- Take a tub or a shower – wash away the shitty emotion.
Process/Express/Make Peace with Emotions
I do still have a tich of anxiety, which is really just dialed down fear. Even though my “shift” felt monumental, I still find my body to be in anxiety at least some portion of the day. For me, anxiety is deep within my belly and it churns. If it is particularly strong it will come over my entire body like a wave. I try not to hold my breath and I wait for it to pass.
Why do we care about processing emotion? Our mind/body needs us to. If we don’t, the emotions will eventually show up physically in the form of disease. Not to mention that people get darn cranky when their emotions get shoved down down down.
What is your shadow emotion that is asking to be expressed? Is it sadness? Perhaps even JOY? Please leave a comment below, I would love to hear from you. Scroll down past the last What We Do in the Shadows picture (talk about laughter, check it out) and lets talk feelings.