Understanding and Directing Emotions using a Creative Practice
We are emotional beings – we have hundreds, even thousands of emotions every day, often without knowing it. Many of us are unaware that emotions are driving our decisions most of the time, and often not for the better. We often sabotage ourselves because we want to do something but are being held back by negative emotions and thought patterns that run just beneath our radar.
The fact is that most people do not even know what exactly emotions are. And many of us do not know it is even possible to change them or to make use of them in some way.
Having had a difficult time with emotions for much of my life, I was forced to confront them, and began to examine them up close. As a result, over the years they’ve become something very valuable to me. What I’ve discovered through many years of trial and error, is that emotions are incredibly useful for the creative process. If we learn how to access them, and if we learn to face them head on and see what they really are, we can transform negative emotions into something positive while using their energy to produce something through a creative practice, such as genuine art.
It’s much like an alchemical process in that we are not really so much involved in the transformation process. We just situate ourselves in a way that we can merely let it happen on its own. Because it cannot, and will not, be forced to do so.
Emotions Myth #1
Many of us have been programmed to believe that having or displaying emotions is unacceptable or bad in some way, or that we need to be ashamed of them.
Barring some very tedious and ancient cultural interpretations of propriety, nothing could be further from the truth. There is nothing inherently wrong with having thoughts and emotions, as they are completely natural to the human experience. And we don’t have to be embarrassed by them, or try to suppress them just because the masses have been doing it for generations.
Emotions are just phenomena, bodily responses to a thought memory from some kind of past experience. So it is not necessary to suffer by blaming yourself for having one, or for thinking a thought, even a really ‘bad’ thought. We don’t need to become anxious about having anxiety, like we have some incurable disease. And we don’t need to feel bad about feeling sad, or angry at ourselves for feeling anger.
Very simply, it’s perfectly ok to just feel something, like sadness. And the more ok with it we are, the better we are able to go into it and process it and learn from it.
Emotions Myth #2
We’ve been programmed to think we have some kind of disease such as clinical depression when we’re sad. The trick of the Psychotherapist is to make you think there is something wrong with you, something clinical, something difficult to cure, something conclusively pathological that they have an answer for. But they often do not have an answer for it.
Dr. Eric Maisel talks about this psychotherapist trick:
‘[That we have some kind of incurable disease] is absolutely untrue. It’s just that we don’t understand emotions, and so we grab onto the only explanation we hear about, which is the explanation touted by the psychologists and psychiatrists who are educated by the medical model, which is…complete nonsense. This model assumes, in any case, that you have a disease that needs cured.’
Don’t Avoid Emotions or try to Suppress Them
In any emotional situation, if you remember one thing, remember this: don’t avoid it, and don’t try to suppress it. Go into it. Explore it, and then express it. Or then release it and learn from it. What is it telling you about yourself, about your thinking, about your beliefs?
The emotional guidance system tells us that when we are caught in a strong emotion, we are not in our center, and we are not identified with who we really are, with the truth of our being. It tells us we are identified with a thought or belief. And it tells us that that thought or belief is not serving our higher good.
Transforming Emotions via the Creative Process
Emotions transform because of our state of being, and because we let them, not because we force them. Emotions and fears are always poised to release themselves. When we repress them it takes energy from us, so when we consciously allow them to release we gain the energy we normally use to unconsciously repress them. This gives our immune system a boost, and frees our mind of negative thought patterns.
Eventually this process will become very blissful, so much so that it might make us uncomfortable because we’re not used to that state of being. The more we do it, the more accustomed to bliss and centeredness we become.
We can very easily transform or dissolve negative emotions with a creative practice – by going into the body and feeling it, and then expressing it through some kind of artistic or creative medium. This takes practice, but like anything the more we do it the easier it becomes.
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