The 32 Elements of Health:
Element #7 Emotional Poise and Stability
Our Emotions Defined
Our emotions are multifaceted sensations that cannot be completely understood by our minds. They serve as messages for us, telling us when we are living in congruency with our soul’s deepest desires and values. They serve as sensations which we often live for—feelings like happiness, exaltation, and bliss being the highest expressions of our fulfilled desires. When our needs are not being met, our emotions reflect this. When we are worried or scared, disappointed or frustrated, confused or lonely, the cause is in the needs we are not filling, or the needs we perceive ourselves as not fulfilling. For instance, needs like having loved ones nearby, or human touch, may not be being met when we feel lonely. Or needs like security in life, or safety and comfort, may be going unmet when we are scared or depressed.
Emotional poise is not the absence of “negative” emotions, no. Emotional poise emerges when we allow these emotions to come to the surface of our awareness and simply be. Emotional poise requires that we be open to the presence of our emotions, that we acknowledge them, and that we appreciate them for the messages that they offer us. Any time an emotion wells up inside of us, our task is to give it the space to be. Our emotions are there for a reason, and they serve a purpose.
Stabilizing Our Emotions
Stabilizing our emotions involves living our lives and perceiving our situations in ways that allow us to be on top of distress before and as it arises. The first part of this entails striving, to the extent possible, to fulfill core needs that are not being met for us, so that we are not in a distressed state for longer than is necessary. Alternatively, we can cultivate our capacity to perceive current conditions in their perfection, to accept things as they are, rather than arguing with reality and making ourselves crazy in the process.
Our emotions are expressions of our needs through the filters of our perceptions. By shifting the way we perceive our needs, we can transform feelings of pain into pleasure, and stabilize any emotional imbalances. Attaching ourselves to the emotions we harbor about an undesirable life situation is more likely to cause their seamless, natural flow to become blocked. By clinging to our emotions, we risk their eventual boiling over as they continue to stream through our being. The trick is to let go and simply observe, as if from afar, our emotions and life situations. We are not merely products of our life experiences. We have the capacity to detach from them and thus discover that we are infinitely greater than them. We are always more than any experience or circumstance we face.
The system of emotions that course within us is there for us to thrive. Our emotions are not bad, or unhealthy; they simply are. They are like symptoms of a sort; or like an internal navigation system—they offer us clues as to how we are living and seeing our world. When we live in alignment with the way we want to, and when things in our world occur that we perceive to be congruent with what is in our best interest, we reduce the chance of distressing emotional “symptoms” arising.
Achieving emotional stability is an endless work-in-progress. For, as long as we exist, and as long as we can perceive, we are capable of experiencing emotions and thus imbalances in them. Maintaining full control over our perceptions and life situations is critical if we are to ever know—even for a few moments—what emotional stability really is. Two powerful bodies of work that can assist with this endeavor are the Nonviolent Communication work of Marshall Rosenberg and the self-inquiry “Work” of Byron Katie.
The problem comes when, instead of letting our emotions be, we numb them out with unhealthy lifestyle practices. Feeling our emotions (positive or negative) requires significant amounts of our body’s energy. We can observe this in children who, after spending an animated and enthusiastic afternoon at a party, want nothing more than to sleep during the drive home.
Unconsciously or consciously, many of us distract ourselves from our emotions in order to avoid uncomfortable feelings. We consume foods in excess of our needs. We eat foods for which we are not designed. We drink alcohol. We get insufficient sleep. We plug ourselves into the television set for hours at a time. We do all of the above and more … in an attempt to anesthetize those “negative” emotions.
These strategies, however, do not lead to optimal health. And they do not help us come to grips with the messages behind our emotions. The only way to discover these messages is to feel them for what they are. Only when we are receptive to our emotions in this way can we authentically experience their full spectrum, and thus bring out the color in our lives.
If emotional poise and stability are issues for you, I very strongly encourage you to watch Prof. Rozalind Graham’s lecture, ”Live the Colorful Life in a Black and White World.” You can find it in the Radiating Compassion DVD set.
Written by a student in Dr. Graham’s 80/10/10 Certified Lifestyle Coach mentoring program.