“Watch the waves in the ocean: the higher the wave goes, the deeper is the wake that follows it. One moment you are in the wave, another moment you are the hollow wake that follows. Enjoy both, don’t get addicted to one. Don’t say, “I would always like to be on the peak”. It’s not possible. Simply see the fact: it is not possible. It has never happened and it will never happen. It is simply impossible – not in the nature of things. Then what to do? Enjoy the peak while it lasts and then enjoy the valley when it comes. What is wrong with the valley? What is wrong with being low? It is a relaxation. The peak is an excitement, and nobody can exist continuously in an excitement. You will go completely mad.” – Osho

How often do you run away from the dips, the valleys, and convince yourself that “something is wrong with you” for experiencing them?

 

You’re riding high on the top of the world. Perhaps you got a raise at work. Or you made a bunch of money in your business. Your or your mom pulled through cancer. Or your kid is now totally potty trained. 

 

You’re dancing in the streets kinda happy. The kinda happy where you could stop traffic with your smile. 

But the next day, or next week, you wake up with a heavy feeling in your chest.

“Am I sad?”  you ask yourself. 

 

You ask yourself “what’s wrong with me?”

And suddenly you’re caught in a cyclical trap of running from your emotions. 

 

Change is the only constant 

One of my all-time favorite quotes is by this Greek philosopher named Heraclitus who says “you can’t step into the same river twice”. 

 

Pretty simple quote that means basically – life is ever changing, it’s always unfolding and developing and moving. And you can’t stand in the water and put out your hands and yell “STOP” and expect the river to conform. 

 

The river is always changing. Always moving. Always turning into something new. 

And this is the nature of existence. You are always changing. You’re always in development. 

Science shows that your entire body renews itself every 7 years because every cell in your body is reborn. So basically you’re an  entirely different person than you were 7 years ago. (let’s not even get into what that means about the constancy of the “I am” that you attach yourself to. I’ll cover that in another post).

 

And yet, when it comes to emotions we want to capture that ephemeral feeling and give yourselfs permission to stay there forever. 

This might feel fine and dandy when you’re feeling high flying and awesome. But what about when you’re struggling?

This belief in the constancy of your emotions ends up creating the belief that you are what you feel at the moment. So you’re feeling depressed? You say “I am depressed”.

You’re feeling happy? You say “I am happy”. And that ends up planting subconscious seeds that say “this is what I am and it’s unchanging”. 

But it’s not. You aren’t your feelings. And you aren’t unchanging. 

Human beings are notoriously bad at estimating how they’ll feel in the future.

Because they always make the assumption that how they feel right now is how they’ll feel forever.

 

If you’re depressed, you assume you’ll always feel depressed. It’s one of the reasons that depression is so scary. People make choices on the assumption “I’ll always feel this way” with occasional dire consequences (like when someone is suicidal).

 

This is something I used to teach as a psychologist in a training we did on suicidal thinking. It’s temporary. This is why there are so many cases of someone jumping off of the Golden Gate Bridge literally trying to swim through the air to avoid the rocks. They changed their minds because once faced with the possibility of death everything shifted for them.

This also works on the opposite side of the equation. If you’re feeling great, you assume you’ll always feel great. You assume that things will never be challenging again and that you’ll always be peachy keen.

Sorry/Not sorry: none of this is true. 

And grasping onto the being totally static in your emotional experience is part of why everything feels so shitty and hard. 

 

Emotions are meant to flow in and out

 

It’s your attachment to how you feel that causes suffering and makes you feel that if/when things change that you’re “doing something wrong”.  Like you get sad, and you tear yourself a new one because you must be doing something wrong. You’re not listening to the divine. Or you’ve fallen out of alignment with your highest self.

 

But that’s a dangerously slippery slope. Because when you blame yourself and demonize yourself for experiencing dips and lows, then you’ll do whatever you can to avoid feeling them. You’ll use addictive behaviors to stop yourself from feeling. You’ll dive head first into distraction and distancing instead of making room to feel all of it. 

When you realize that you are not your emotions you can allow sadness, joy, awe, appreciation, and grief, to flow across you and through your experience without having to make those feelings your whole reality. 

See, you are not your emotions. You are the sky, and your emotions are the clouds. So saying “I am happy” or “I am sad” is like the sky saying “I am clouds” when it’s a rainy day. 

It makes zero sense because the sky is always the sky regardless of what’s drifting across its surface. 

 

Just like you. You are the sky. And the emotions are just the clouds. They’re passing through. 

{CHECK OUT MY SKY AND CLOUDS MEDITATION TO TAKE THIS DEEPER}

 

What you resist persists (and creates an endless cycle of crappiness)

This is one of those cliché but true adages from psychology and the law of attraction. When you push something away from you, you’re actually creating more of it. 

 

In the law of attraction this is about the energy of your attention. Of your focus. Your attention always creates your intentions. So when you’re pushing against something you’re energetically inviting more of it into your life.

 

It’s like this Mother Theresa Quote:

When you push back against something you create more of it. More of that tension that says “war! War is the problem!” rather than planting the seeds of the solution (peace).

When I was a psychologist we would use this adage “what you resist persists” as well.

 

But the reasons were a bit different. When we’d talk about this we’d be referring to psychological defense mechanisms that caused someone to block out, numb, or go into denial about the emotion they were resisting. And so the harder the client tried to “not be depressed” often the more depressed they’d become. 

 

And this leads to some of the biggest myths about your emotions and about staying in a positive place in your life. 

 

Emotions are information

When you deny the existence of the valleys in your experience, you basically tell yourself that you’re not allowed to feel certain ways. You shut your eyes, put your fingers in your ears, and start doing the “lalalalalalalala” noise that you do when you’re trying to ignore something.

 Or is that just me?

 

You were given your emotions for a reason. Your emotions are information which allow you to make decisions. When you’re angry, you usually need to take action. When you’re sad or upset about the circumstances of your life you’re more likely to make a change if you allow space for those emotions.

 

We’ve all known someone who is super positive. And then when we dig underneath the surface we find that that constancy is actually a retreat and denial of their emotions. We find out that even though Bill is the funnest guy at the party, quick with a joke, and always there with a positive word, he’s going home and crying in his soup at night.

 

Maybe he feels that he has to be positive or no one will like him. A conditioned belief perhaps from childhood when he would only receive attention and love when he was expressing positive emotions. Or maybe he’s just running from his sadness, but when he doesn’t have the distraction of beers at the local bar, or the football game, or whatever he’s throwing himself into those emotions come roaring back and crashing over him. 

 

Bill is ignoring his problems by trying to stay in that positive place all the time. And it’s cheating him. 

 

The emotional contrast creates the richness of life

 

Apparently, I’m unpacking all the clichés today. But you legitimately cannot see the light if you don’t have the dark. 

 

I love to paint. I love seeing the colors smeared across the canvas. Playing with them.

 

Noticing how things in life are a mixture of colors and very rarely as simple as we think they are. Those clouds aren’t actually grey, they’re actually colored with shades of pink, purple, mauve, and tangerine. 

 

If there was only white paint no one could paint anything. We couldn’t create depth or shadow or perspective in a painting. All of those things depend upon the contrast of the colors you’re putting down on the canvas. Without the light green on the leaf you’re painting, the dark green part would look flat and lifeless. 

The contrast brings out the richness of the painting. It creates the POP that makes it come to life. 

 

The same is true of you. The contrast you feel in your emotional world creates all sorts of wonderful things.

  • Feeling sadness creates appreciation for when you’re happy.
  • Sadness allows you to see what’s making you unhappy so you can make new choices.
  • Sadness allows you to appreciate the peaks that Osho refers to in the beginning quote. 

 

Because without the valleys, there are no peaks. There are no waves without the low part. You just have a higher water level. And you can’t surf without waves. 

So quit running, and start feeling