Both creativity and life can be difficult if we’re feeling emotionally drained, exhausted, or just plain stuck.
Anger can interfere with our focus. Sadness can make us disengaged. Anxiety can disturb our calm. Fear can hamper our courage and make us paralyzed.
Today, I’d like to go over 5 steps I use myself to help clear away all those nasty emotional blockages that get in the way of my creativity.
Step #1: Understand What Emotions Really Are
We are often taught to categorize all emotions as different and distinct. But a great way to help clear emotional blockages is to understand emotions as all being interconnected and really being this spectrum of emotions in which the emotions of love and fear act as the polar ends of this spectrum.
We can simplify this further by saying there are only two emotions we all feel at any given time: love or fear.
If you think about it deeply, you will see that this is absolutely right.
- When we are angry, it’s usually rooted in the fact that that we feel as if our god-given right to be loved unconditionally was violated or withheld. When we are angry we are choosing fear, not love.
- When we are anxious, it is usually rooted in the fact that we fear that any decision we make may result in a situation in which either we are not going to be loved fully or completely, or in which we will not have the capacity to love our life fully or completely. It also usually means we feel that this situation we are currently in is not a situation we can completely love, so we choose to be afraid of the present and desire to leave it as soon as possible. When we are anxious we choose fear, not love.
- When we are sad it is usually rooted in the fact that we have lost someone or something we love–or that made us feel deeply loved. We fear that love has left us somehow and we are not wholly and fully loved anymore. Thus, sadness is choosing fear and not love.
- When we are frustrated it is because we believe people, or life in general, are not behaving in the way we might expect. We all–whether we realize it or not–believe that other people, and life in general, should always be completely and totally loving towards us. So when life isn’t completely and totally loving towards us, even a little bit, we experience a negative emotion. We often equate things going our way as life being loving towards us, and when it doesn’t go our way, we equate that with love being withheld from us, which makes us feel afraid. Thus even frustration is a choice of fear over love.
When we understand that all emotions can be identified across a vast spectrum where love and fear are the polarities, we can more quickly address and clear any emotional blockages we may have.
If you are feeling emotionally blocked at this moment, understand that this means that you have chosen fear over love. Don’t berate yourself for doing so: you likely were doing it unconsciously. By making this choice more conscious, right at this moment, you will likely begin to ease the emotional blockages you are experiencing and begin the process of clearing them up.
Step #2. Bring Your Emotions Into The Healing Light of Awareness
The typical response most people have to emotions is to ignore them completely.
In fact, not only is this not a great approach to our emotions, but it actually is going to make the emotions worse rather than better.
Don’t do that to yourself.
When you have time alone, please sit with your negative emotions. Become aware of how you are feeling.
What I like to do when I practice this is, is that I immediately label the feelings themselves. When I do this, I instantly recognize that there are many different “tonalities” to the emotion I am feeling.
For instance: very rarely will I feel just sadness. I might at once experience sadness and anger and frustration at varying degrees depending on the situation I am in.
Sometimes I like to speak the emotions out loud to myself:
“I am feeling sad, angry, depressed, confused, etc.”
As I do this, I also try to honor the uniqueness of every emotion.
For instance: anger, for me, doesn’t always feel the same. Sometimes it feels like a hot coal in my throat. Sometimes it feels like acid in my stomach. Sometimes it feels like a heavy rock in my mid-section.
All I do is I describe exactly how it feels as I am feeling it and where I am feeling it and, in that way, I bring more acute awareness to the emotion.
When I do this it is a signal that I am giving to my emotions that I am ready to address them fully and completely. This is a loving approach, not a fearful one.
Awareness is an act of deep love and this is why it always activates the healing process. The healing of emotional pain also immediately enables you to be more creative, since, up until now, you have been weighed down by the heaviness of the emotion which prevented you from doing your work.
Step #3. “Physicalize” The Emotion
Our emotions, whether we realize it or not, actually inhabit our bodies. If we understand emotions to be energy and ourselves to be a big ball of energy, then this makes a lot of sense. Our emotions can literally be trapped in certain areas of our physical form.
In that sense: our emotions are physical things, not just abstract concepts.
This is why a person who carried so much anger their whole life grows old and suddenly finds themselves with a perpetually angry-looking exterior: furrowed brows, tight lips, clenched fists, back hunched forward as if ready to attack. Those who live a life of joy, compassion and unconditional love grow old and yet always appear to have bright, warm faces, glowing with love, and have a more relaxed, soft posture that is inviting and open.
In many ways, we physically become the emotions we hold on to. Ever the more reason why we should work to release any negative emotions we hold on to.
A great practice to help you deeply understand this truth is to practice yoga. Yoga is so popular nowadays for how it is good for your physical health, but it is little known that yoga does wonders for your emotional well-being as well.
As you do yoga, you are bringing deep awareness to your body. Engaging in yoga, even a little bit, is a very loving act. That deep awareness can help you identify where your emotions have become embodied, or physicalized within your very system.
When you understand that emotions represent a physical reality within you, this helps accelerate the healing process because then you understand that your physical reality is literally being influenced by your emotional state.
Step #4 Calm The Inner Storm, and The Outer Storm Will Subside
This leads us to a truth that many find hard to believe: our outer physical reality is a reflection of our inner, non-physical emotional state.
What you feel inside of you has great influence on how you perceive the world.
Don’t believe me? Then try to enjoy a trip to Disneyland when you just found out that your spouse has divorced you. Even the happiest place on earth can become hell when inside you feel absolutely miserable.
Our internal world is where all change can originate from—in fact it is the only place change can originate from. If you feel you are going the wrong way: stop, sit still. Ask yourself: what storm is within you? Then calm the inner storm and the outer storm will subside.
(Many external events actually act as triggers meant to activate the places within you that are emotionally blocked. But we will speak about that in more detail at a later date.)
Step #5. Let It All Out
The fifth and final step to clearing your emotional blockages is to let the emotions know that you are ready to release them.
You can do this with a thought, or, you can just say it out load:
“I am willing to release this anger/this pain/this sadness/this frustration.”
“I let go of this depression/anxiety/confusion.”
“I am ready to process this fear/worry/panic.”
If you are in the middle of a yoga pose, and you feel a strong emotion rushing to leave you, don’t ignore the sudden rush of feeling: instead lean into that emotion. Take a pause before you move on to the next pose so that you can be fully present with that emotional release. At first, it may be painful, but know that what is happening is that the yoga practice is clearing your system of the negative emotionality.
(As you see, yoga is a holistic practice, this is why it has become so popular: it teaches us that we are whole people, since the only way to truly succeed at yoga is to force yourself to experience the totality of who you are: mind, heart, body, and spirit simultaneously. When you practice yoga in a group, then your community is happily added to the equation, too! )
I know it sounds crazy, but your negative emotions have actually been waiting for you to allow them to leave your system. You, whether you realize it or not, have been holding on to them, and all that heaviness and pain you were feeling served as just a reminder for you to let these emotions go already.
So make a choice to be fully and completely loving to yourself and tell those nasty emotions that you are ready to let them go. And then, enjoy the beautiful release as the negative emotions leave your system and are replaced with a soothing, relaxing, feeling of love and warmth.
Today’s Courage Exercise
If you are feeling emotionally stuck today, try all 5 of these steps to help clear out all the baggage.