Just like our five senses, our emotions enable us to interact with other people, animals, plants and circumstances. Our emotions are not limited, as our five senses are, to the area immediately around us. Some of us are more sensitive than others in this regard but all of us have at one time or another felt deep anger, sadness or joy without being aware of why we were feeling it. Everybody knows somebody that can brighten up a whole room… by leaving! Conversely, and more pleasantly, we have those friends who seem to carry joy with them and your black cloud can lift just thinking about them or hearing their voice. All of this, and far more, is courtesy of your emotional realm.

Without your emotions you wouldn’t be able to feel love, compassion, kindness, Oneness and all of the other blessings that make life so delightful. Spirit even uses the emotional realm to let us know when we’re on the right track by filling us with something that is hard to define but unmistakable when present. And the not-so-comfortable emotions like grief, sadness, anger and envy all serve a purpose as well; they bring us information. There are hundreds of books on the shelf that can bring you a deeper understanding of how that information can be used by you in creative ways. Simply put, our emotions are a wonderful gift and an invaluable part of our make-up that helps connect us both to God and to our environment. When we view our emotional realm as a tool in this way then we recognize that we’re not intended to be subject to that realm. It is here to serve—not the other way around.

Channelling emotions

When I was fourteen I came home after school, bounded in the door and entered the kitchen saying, “What’s for dinner, Mom?” Not highly original I’ll grant you but I was hungry, OK. I stopped mid-sentence as I heard my mother, who was facing the other way, blast somebody on the phone. Now you have to understand that my mother was not prone to emotional outbursts, but she was letting fly like a drill sergeant who had just had his boot scuffed by a new recruit—including words that I had never heard her say. What this outburst was about is immaterial but if you ever meet my sister Carol, ask her how Mom got her prom dress made on time. Anyways, as I was trying to moonwalk my way back out of the room as quietly as possible, she turned, saw me, and said, “Hi honey, how was school today?” and had a nice smile on her face as she said it! Not a trace of irritation in her voice. Not the slightest shade of mad on her face. How could that be? Well, I didn’t know how she did it then, but it was obvious to me in that moment, that emotions, even “negative” ones, could be rightly used and channelled in a specific direction. If there’s anger that needs to be directed at a specific person, there is no need to flatten everybody in a one mile radius with it. Nor is there any need to carry it forward into the moment after it serves us.

This holds for “positive” emotions as well. Many a person has had a joyful, perhaps ecstatic, experience with another individual or an event, and gotten hurt or even killed moments later by stepping in front of a truck or careening through a red light while lost in joyous rapture and not paying attention to their current surroundings. I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t feel the fullness of joy, love and peace when those emotions come to you. The same is true of grief, anger and despair. Your emotional realm brings you messages for a reason—to be FELT and experienced; you wouldn’t be living life to the fullest if you sold yourself short in this realm. But, as my mother taught me, you don’t have to allow your emotions to control your actions when it’s inappropriate to do so.

Granted, it’s not always easy to just release or get on top of emotions when they come on strong. Certainly there are people who suffer from chronic and intense grief, rage and depression, and I would never trivialize their experience by saying they should just “get over it.” They can, however, take positive steps in seeking out people who can help them in a deep and lasting way. For many of us, however, we simply allow our emotions to take control of our actions out of habit or because nobody ever showed us that it could be different.

How to control emotions

Let me give you just one tip on how to get control over those pesky, negative emotions. I know you’ll find this hard to believe, but there are times when I get grumpy. Sometimes I can identify a particular thing or person to blame it on (even though it’s really probably due to something else) and sometimes I don’t know where it’s coming from. Doesn’t matter. There I am in the midst of it and I’m loaded for bear—just waiting for some poor unsuspecting soul to tell me to “Have a nice day.” Or I could be having a pity party. And you can be sure I have a damn good reason for it! How could that cop write me a ticket when I was only going five miles over the limit?!  I can’t believe that my (son, daughter, wife, husband, friend, boss…) did that to me! How could my insurance company raise my rates when I haven’t had a claim in eighteen years?! Woe is me. I’ve been so badly done by. The Universe is out to get me. And so on…

The first thing I do in such a circumstance is recognize what is going on. My higher Self (Spirit) sees what my humanity is experiencing through the emotional realm. Then I look at it and see if I can tell what message this is bringing me. Maybe it will become obvious to me. If it does, my energy will turn to working with whatever I’ve identified in a creative way and the anger of self-pity, having done its job as a messenger, will dissipate.

Maybe an example would serve well here. I was in relationship with a woman who also had a relationship with another man, a friend of mine. In church one Sunday I noticed that she was sitting with him and I felt the pangs of jealousy arise in me. Why was she sitting with him and not me? As I felt the poison of anger and fear rise in my emotions my higher Self saw the underlying message:  I loved and cared for this woman. That clear impulse was being distorted into the emotions of jealousy and possessiveness. Seeing that, I consciously concentrated on the true feelings of love that I had for her AND him. In less than a minute the jealousy was gone and I was restored to a place of peace within myself.

Connecting in Oneness through emotions

If the message being brought by the emotion does not become evident to me, then I can choose to recognize that this represents a huge pattern in the world and that what I’m feeling is connecting me with millions of people who may be experiencing a similar emotion at that same time. I therefore have a channel through which I can touch all of those people. What is it I want to send to them? Perhaps assurance, thankfulness, peace, love or compassion. As I concentrate on that message, it reaches my heart first, thereby dissolving the anger or self-pity in me.

But sometimes I just can’t get myself to radiate love when I’m feeling like ripping somebody’s arms off. In that case, my larger Self gives my smaller self (human ego) permission to indulge in the anger or self-pity, but I put a time limit on it—usually twenty minutes. Then I concentrate on maximizing the experience. Make it ridiculous. I’m not only mad at that idiot that cut me off. I hate everybody! I’m mad at bunnies, chicks, small children with doe eyes, roses in full bloom and Aunt Bea (for you youngsters, ask your dad or mom about the Andy Griffith show). If I’m in the pity pool, then I dive deep. Everybody is out to get me! The mailman is probably throwing away my mail, except for the junk mail. The baker sees me drooling and tells me that the éclair in the case is reserved for someone else when it isn’t. My neighbour won’t share his Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition with me. My team takes a knee at the end of the game at the one yard line because they know that I bet on them to beat the spread.

When you really see how ludicrous your behaviour is when taken to the extreme, and feel how it is affecting your own mind and body, it becomes easy to let it go. I usually end up laughing out loud, which gets me some funny looks and a few “Are you OK’s.” But that’s a small price to pay to put my higher Self back in the driver seat. When that is the case, those emotions aren’t pesky after all. They are simply the useful messengers they were intended to be.

Excerpted from the book, Journaling the Journey:  25 Spiritual Insights to Light the Way, by Larry Pearlman. While working thirty-two years in corporate America, Larry taught courses in “The Art of Creative Living.”  This was followed by twenty-seven months as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ghana. More recently Larry has hosted a radio show, “Evolution in Consciousness,” interviewing people like Gregg Braden, James Twyman, Lynne McTaggart, Joan Borysenko and Matthew Fox. Learn more about Larry by visiting his website at www.LarryPearlman.com.