Emotions are one way the body tells us “all is well” or “pay attention, there’s a problem here.” So all feelings serve a function – they keep us on track.

However, people tend to desire the “good” feelings and avoid the “bad” feelings. We all want more love, joy, enthusiasm, happiness and relaxation. But sadness, anger, anxiety, fear and jealousy… well, we avoid them at all costs.

Unfortunately, when we spend energy avoiding the “bad” feelings – and it does take a LOT of energy – we deny ourselves the lessons that underlie the pain.

Sandy, who recently attended my seminar on Mini-Retreats, learned this the hard way. As a sleep-deprived new mother with a demanding career, she really struggled through the relaxation exercises. “All these feelings came up for me. I feel guilty about leaving the baby to go work, and guilty leaving work to be with the baby. And I feel frustrated and angry and sad that I even feel this way!”

Her feelings were certainly understandable, but until she allowed herself to actually feel them, she couldn’t move past them. After the tears fell and dried, we started uncovering the issues and lessons underneath the emotions. It turns out, work-life balance is very important to Sandy, but she felt like it was out of reach. Once this was on the table, we could explore options and solutions.

When we avoid our “bad” feelings, we can’t resolve them. What’s worse, when we numb out the “bad” feelings, we also numb the “good” feelings.

Allow yourself to feel all your emotions. By daring to be with your anger, fear and sadness, you also develop your capacity to experience joy, happiness and love. This is the fullness of life!

How to embrace all emotions:

1. Find a quiet place to sit for at least 10 minutes. Get comfortable, take some deep breaths and relax.

2. Close your eyes and allow your thoughts and feelings to flow.

3. Get curious. If your emotions had colours, textures and shapes, what would they be? Where do you feel them in your body?

4. As you observe your emotions, notice how they shift and change over time.

5. Journal about your experience, if you wish.