How to Weather Stormy Feelings


We all experience times when strong feelings come up inside us like a storm! It can be very difficult to deal with these feelings, they are so intense within us. Such an inner storm can lead to very detrimental words and actions which we later regret.

I know looking back on my own life I can see many instances where I spoke or acted on impulse due to the raging storms of emotion within me. Some very strong feelings also come from our hormones, which if we are unable to control these urges may drive us to make impulsive  decisions on sexual matters, which we will later deeply regret.

Our feelings combine with our beliefs about ourselves and others, along with the rules we abide by in our interactions with one another. This powerful mix of feelings and beliefs, will influence how we will act in all the situations we find ourselves in.  Our personal combination of feelings and beliefs creates our thoughts. Our thoughts carve out the reality we perceive within our life experience. Our life experience flows from this stream of feelings, beliefs, thoughts, words and actions as we create it.

To help our inner warrior deal with these strong storms as they come up within us, let’s look at some helpful suggestions and ideas from several sources of ancient wisdom.

I like how Thich Nhat Hanh describes our feelings, in his book Peace is Every Step. He says, “In us, there is a river of feelings, in which every drop of water is a different feeling, and each feeling relies on all the others for its existence. To observe it, we just sit on the bank of the river and identify each feeling as it surfaces, flows by and disappears.”

He goes on to describe how there are three sorts of feelings, pleasant, unpleasant and neutral. He says we should focus on observing our feelings while using conscious breathing and mindfulness so we can identify the feeling and acknowledge it. If a feeling is unpleasant, we can mindfully embrace our feeling, like a Mother comforting a crying baby. Applying our energy to the feelings in this way, will help us to transform the unpleasant feelings into either neutral or pleasant feelings as we practice.

(example from Peace is Every Breath) “Breathing in, I know there is an unpleasant feeling in me.” “Breathing out, I know there is an unpleasant feeling in me.” As we identify the feeling, we can address it by name, such as “anger”, “sorrow’ or “fear”. We want to keep our breathing calm and light so our mind and body can begin to reach the same equilibrium.

Thich Nhat Hanh also says that “Mindful observation is based on the principle of “non-duality”: our feeling is not separate from us or caused by something outside us; our feeling is us, and for the moment we are that feeling.”

We do not need to bury, reject or drive away our feelings. What we need to do is mindfully embrace them, in order to transform them with love and compassion into more beneficial and pleasant feelings. With this gentle approach we will be able to withstand the storms that pass through the branches of our being, shaking us to our roots at times. We will understand the feelings are but temporary energies, which when acknowledged and embraced can be transformed. I strongly suggest reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s book, Peace is Every Step, for a better and fuller explanation of this wonderful process.

In the Christian tradition many other feelings and thoughts we experience are considered in Philippians 4:6-8 as follows. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think on these things.…”

I think that an attitude of gratitude, a heart filled with thanksgiving and lips that look for every opportunity to praise, will lift our hearts from many a moment of sorrow or despair.

Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens. Khalil Gibran
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When dealing with your feelings, or those of another, consider the words of Jalaluddin Rumi, the thirteenth-century Persian poet. “Listen with ears of tolerance! See through the eyes of compassion! Speak with the language of love.”

In summary we all experience a vast array of feelings. Enjoy the pleasant ones, transform the unpleasant feelings by mindfully embracing them. Acknowledge all feelings, for they are a valid of expression of who you are, and what is meaningful to you. Love and accept yourself feelings and all! Seek to better understand why you feel the way you do, and in so doing you will come to better understand both yourself, and the other’s who are important to you in your life.

May you be blessed with the warmth of love, the comfort of kindness, the light of truth, and the joy of freedom!








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