This is an intense, challenging time we live in. It's easy to look at the many tragedies in the world and feel fear or despair. Heavy emotions are uncomfortable and can give us a sense of powerlessness, so we tend to avoid our dark thoughts and feelings. Yet it is only in facing this darkness within that we can find inner peace.
Common ways that we avoid our feelings are through denial or distraction. In denial, we may try to put a happy face on and tell ourselves, "It's not so bad" or "Things will get better." There's nothing wrong with a positive outlook as long as you are not using it to repress your dark feelings. It's called spiritual bypass when you use a spiritual concept to avoid facing emotional pain. Wounds can fester for a long time this way, keeping us from the peace we seek.
Distraction is a seemingly innocuous defense mechanism that keeps us busy but gets us nowhere, like hamsters on a wheel. We fill up all our days, doing more so that there's no time to feel. We convince ourselves that if we don't focus on it, it doesn't exist. This tactic doesn't make it go away; in fact, it exhausts us to keep running from ourselves. Although it's true that it can be detrimental to wallow in heavy emotions, there's a healthy balance point between drowning in darkness and avoiding our feelings.
Confronting the darkness within gives us empowerment. If we act as if our own feelings aren't important, how can expect anyone else to value them? By no longer running from our feelings, we are telling ourselves that we matter.
How can we face dark emotions when they seem overwhelming? First, let go of the notion that emotions need to be fixed. Resist the urge to try to solve whatever situation triggered the emotion. Simply sitting with the emotion and experiencing the sensation in the body allows it to begin processing. Second, notice if the feeling wants to be expressed. If so, allow it to flow, whether through tears, a sigh or scream, or through writing or movement. Finally, send love to the part of you that's hurting - whether it's from sadness, anger, fear or any other dark feeling. Love is the most powerful healer.
Honoring all of our feelings in this way releases them or lessens their intensity. Often what we fear outwardly is a reflection of our own darkness. We build our walls but it never gives us a sense of security because the true source, our own shadow self, hasn't been addressed. As we begin to face the inner darkness, we allow light to enter, the light of inner peace.