Q&A with Geoff: Why do strong emotions overwhelm my peace?Jul 14, 2021
My family is going through a difficult trial right now involving potential legal and financial consequences. I have felt a measure of peace, but it gets pushed back. Is it normal for my soul and mind to be in agreement but then have emotions stir up and try and create chaos and crazy thoughts?
I am currently fighting a battle of the mind and spirit feeling and knowing peace, but the emotions stir up distrust and thoughts of “what-ifs” about the unknown future. Just checking to see if this is normal. I keep hearing and reading that I should “just feel it,” but when I feel peace, this crazy making starts. I don’t want to feel the stuff trying to break through the peace.
At what point am I repressing feelings versus just going down a rabbit hole I did not need to? Can they even coexist? Am I totally overthinking this?
First of all, I don’t automatically assume you’re overthinking this. You’re in a battle between your head, heart and soul that isn’t easy to manage. Thinking about all of this is a reflexive thing you’re doing to regain balance. It’s important to sort and analyze what’s happening in our interior, especially when you need to make important decisions. In fact, I’d rather see you run the risk of overthinking something rather than giving up and numbing out.
You are working to reclaim the peace you’ve felt, and your efforts are worth the energy you’re expending. You are not shallow for dealing with these overwhelming emotions. I think it’s common to believe that if we were more positive, we wouldn’t struggle with other negative emotions.
I’ve certainly had moments where I believed that others live without fear, panic and worry. I’ve imagined that everyone else somehow lives above the very human emotions that seem to barge in when least expected. However, I simply know this isn’t the case.
In the same way weeds spring up in our gardens, we also experience an emotional equivalent to this when we try to plant and grow positivity and hope but find that the weeds of doubt, fear, anxiety, comparison, jealously, anger and other annoying emotions find their way into our minds and hearts.
In the same way that a gardener isn’t deemed a failure when weeds pop up in her carefully cultivated rows, you’re also not failing when strong negative emotions surface after you’ve experienced peace.
The spiritual leader Jeffrey R. Holland commented on this common dynamic of letting these intrusive thoughts and feels hijack previous experiences of peace and hope:
Don’t panic and retreat. Don’t lose your confidence. Don’t forget how you once felt. Don’t distrust the experience you had…There may come after the fact some competing doubts and some confusion, but they will pale when you measure them against the real thing. Remember the real thing.
While no one wants to wallow in miserable emotions, there’s great power in accepting that these unwanted emotions are part of our human makeup. There’s no need to believe that you’re a bad person just because you’re feeling these intense emotions. This acceptance allows you to stop turning on yourself and, instead, allow the fear and worry to move through you. We hold onto them too long when we believe they mean something about us.
You’ve had peaceful feelings that you can trust. You can also trust that there will continue to be interruptions to that peace. You can learn to co-exist with both joy and sorrow in your life. While I don’t ignore the more discouraging and self-sabotaging emotions, they’ve never contributed to my peace. I acknowledge them, learn what I can from them, and allow them to pass on.
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