Revelstoke Mountaineer welcomes new columnist Noelle Bovon. Noelle is an entrepreneur, spiritual teacher, nature lover, mother, owner of Balu Yoga & Wellness, and published author of The Art of Transformation: A Daily Approach to Uplifting Your Life.
Her Mindful Mondays column explores a wide variety of health and wellness topics.
We all experience unwanted emotions; however, the negative emotions seem to feel heavier and tend to captivate us. If we’re having an emotion that brings us joy, bliss, ecstasy, ease or an overall sense of happiness, we generally don’t question it. In fact, we tend to give these emotions authority and deem them as more relevant.
But, here’s the thing: without negative emotions, our pleasant and positive ones aren’t as meaningful. Without understanding the dualism – meaning the difference between feeling ‘good’ or feeling ‘bad’ – we aren’t able to recognize the important teachings our emotions offer us. They teach us gratitude. They teach us what feels good and what doesn’t. They teach us how to have relationships that serve us versus ones that make us feel diminished. They show us the way toward our dreams, they inspire action, they teach us how to relinquish control over others. They allow us to gain wisdom, they educate us in the highest order. They allow us perspective and give us insight; with this awareness, we are more able be kind to ourselves and others.
Each of us has a different relationship with our emotions. We attach greater stories to certain emotions. For example, when I experience hurt, I quickly attach my larger story of being disliked by everyone; I start down the rugged territory of dismantling my well-being and trigger a landslide of inner hate. Another person may feel hurt, but easily brush it off, avoiding the turmoil I experience.
It’s the power you give a thought that creates emotion. Thoughts create our emotions, and emotions create our actions.
Which thoughts trigger deeply unpleasant emotions for you? When you experience these emotions, how do you tend to respond?
We can choose the actions that follow our emotions. For example, when we attack someone, trying make them ‘wrong’, we are attempting to feel righteous in our emotions. I’ve done this plenty in my life, hoping to feel better by making someone else the villain. What I should do instead is address the thought, then the negative emotions and reactions in my own body. Currently, with our global struggles, there is a great deal of blaming and attacking going on. We are going to need great courage to see the ways we are contributing to this behavior if we want to create a culture in Revelstoke that isn’t structured around blaming and shaming.
The skill I’ve worked so hard on developing, and one that I have not perfected, is that of watching my thoughts. This allows me to be aware of the emotions my thoughts are triggering, and then I’m more conscious and mindful of my actions. Whether the action is loving, self-harming, blaming or kind matters greatly. The moment we slip into reaction without the awareness of what is prompting our reaction, we’re likely to do or say something that is unkind to ourselves and/or others.
Choosing to be non-reactive is a reaction. But, it’s a conscious choice. When we slow down, watch our emotions and the stories that follow, we become wise to our stories. When we’re able to follow our stories, we’re able to recognize the unconscious reactions and behaviors we habitually indulge in. This isn’t about controlling our ’selves’, it’s about being self-aware. It’s about choice. We can choose how we want to think, so that we can help create the emotions we most desire. We can then allow those emotions to help create actions that help us be the best versions of ourselves.
Remember, watch the temptation to be critical of yourself, that’s another reaction to emotion. Choosing to be kind and patient is the most effective way to bring change in our lives. It allows us the ability to be kind and patient with those in our lives that are closest to our hearts and beyond.