“It doesn’t matter who you are: being human is being human. Everyone has days that are challenging.” Miranda Kerr
You pray. You meditate. You journal. You post inspirational quotes on your social media pages. You study the likes of Deepak Chopra, Tony Robbins, Wayne Dyer, Eckhart Tolle, Joe Dispenza, and Louise Hay. You believe in the power of love, peace, joy, and gratitude.
With all of that goodness going on, are you allowed to have a bad day, or get angry, or even have a contrasting opinion?
The school of thought with spirituality and enlightenment is to let it all go, be the observer of the emotion. Don’t interact with it. Be present. Forgive. Free yourself from the ego. Be joyful every moment of every day.
I hate to break it to you my friend, but you are human and shit happens.
I recently read “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself” by Joe Dispenza and began his month-long meditation program. I’ve read all sorts of books and taken courses on how to be a better more enlightened human, which is what lead me to becoming a life coach and receiving my NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) certification.
I’ve immersed myself in these studies over the past couple years. I wanted to become the best version of myself. I had a lot of worries, fears and doubts. I was angry. I had a terrible temper. I drank too much. I was judgmental, gossipy, insecure, and for some stupid reason, felt victimized by life.
I always believed in a higher power. I went to church. I stuck affirmations to my bathroom mirror, but in hindsight, they were just a facade. I was talking the talk, but not walking the walk. In truth, I didn’t want to take that long, hard look at myself and the things I needed to change. That would take too much effort, too much focus, and having to watch the horror movie going on inside me. I thought being angry made me a stronger person, so I was going to hold onto that with all of my might. Hey, they always talk about self-love and self-acceptance, so I decided to accept myself exactly as I was- anger, insecurity and all!
But, that wasn’t who I truly wanted to be, and deep down I knew it. I knew I wanted to be happy. I really did not like that I was so angry. I hated that I had such a bad temper. I knew that in order to change the things I don’t like about myself, I had to take real action, which meant letting go of the egregious ego to which I so desperately clung.
Then I started to get confused thinking: “Now that I’m on the path to enlightenment, can I get mad at people or be angry? Can I have a shitty day? Can I speak up about my beliefs? Get into a debate or argument? Am I allowed to feel bummed out or stressed about something? Am I allowed to cuss?” Clearly, I’ve made the decision on the last question.
The answer I found was… Yes, I am allowed a feel the same emotions I’ve always felt be it happy, sad, angry, frustrated, amused, inspired, disappointed, etc.
The thing is, no matter how much bliss you pound into your head, you’re going to have a bad day. You’re going to get angry, sad, or frustrated. You are bound to feel disappointed or lonely from time to time.
It doesn’t matter how great of a surfer or swimmer you are, you can’t stop the waves from coming. Just like any person, the spiritually enlightened one still feels a full range of emotion.
Emotions aren’t a bad thing. The problems with emotions arise when we judge them as good or bad. We put them in a box and classify them. Once we label them, we begin to think about them, feel them, and analyze them. We allow them to take root in our minds, which can eventually result in a certain undesirable action: crying, yelling, assaulting the closest inanimate object, turning to escape mechanisms (drugs, alcohol, sex, shopping, gambling, what have you). Then we’ve lost control.
When we set out to be a spiritually enlightened human being, we are hoping to free ourselves from ourselves. We want to be free of suffering. We think it will allow us to retire from life. Enlightenment isn’t like that though. To retire from life is to die. Enlightenment is only the beginning. Even after you’ve achieved a sense of spiritual enlightenment, you still have to engage with physical life and all that’s in it — people, work, neighbors, kids, family members, bills, the IRS, etc.
The key is how you deal with that life and your emotions. I’m not saying suppress your emotions. That will only cause you to eventually explode. What we resist persists so rather than avoid negative emotions simply take them into consideration. Flip them around and stare them right in the face. Embrace them. They’re there for a reason. A negative emotion is always an indicator that there is more to learn. It’s part of your expansion, and you can’t have expansion without contrast: If you know what you don’t want, then you know what you do want. If you avoid the negative feeling, then you’re avoiding the opportunity to learn, evolve, and expand.
Think of it like this: You’re driving down the road, and suddenly you have a flat tire. Would you stop and fix the tire or put on the spare, or would you keep driving on the flat tire?
The problem with spiritual enlightenment is the belief that you need to keep driving on the flat tire. You just need to accept things as they are and be happy about it. We believe that we should ignore where we are and instead focus on where we think we should be. We feel the only acceptable emotion is to be blissfully happy, and if we don’t feel blissfully happy, then we think we have failed.
Rather than the feelings of failure, which can only lead to shame, guilt, and embarrassment, think of your less-than-happy state as it is. It’s neither here nor there. It just is. This doesn’t mean that you’ve surrendered to feeling crappy. It just means you’ve accepted the is-ness of the situation. It means you’re brave enough to embrace where you are, and you are no longer resisting it.
“There is no shame in struggling. Having problems is not a character flaw. You have not failed if you have a bad day.” — Teal Swan
So, are we allowed to feel our negative emotions? Yes. Everyone has bad days. You cannot be a physical being and not be exposed to contrast. Your response to your emotions is determined by your attitude and your perception of them. If you can detach yourself from the concept of good or bad and simply observe, acknowledge, and embrace your emotions, then you have truly become enlightened. You realize that your emotions don’t define you, your situation, or your world. They are simply an aspect of it.