During the Full Moon in Taurus, the energy is in your favor to tune into your body’s wisdom.
And today, we’re going to use that wisdom to help us do something that can otherwise be quite tricky:
Discern the difference between two different forms of emotions.
Why do this?
Because one form carries the power to heal and release, while the other keeps you stuck in a loop, repeating past pain.
When feeling your feelings doesn’t help
I’m a huge fan of the transformative power of feeling our feelings.
It’s amazing how often the patterns we so badly want to change, when you boil them down, are essentially strategies for not feeling what we feel.
And thus, once we feel safe enough to feel our feelings…those strategies just aren’t needed anymore.
And yet, there’s more nuance to this whole “feeling your feelings” approach, and understanding it can release you from self-defeating loops of hitting the replay button on your past.
To illustrate, I want to share something very personal.
Last week, I lost my cousin, Jasmine. On Wednesday, my mom called and said that Jasmine fainted at school and had been taken to the hospital. Thursday morning, my mom called to say she was gone; she’d passed away the night before. Jasmine was 17.
Over the past week, I’ve cycled through wave after wave of shock, grief and anger.
Just yesterday, I was sitting at my desk, filling out an invoice, when another round of grief slammed into me like a wall. One minute I was fine, the next, it felt like my heart was vise gripped in an icy fist.
Years ago, this level of emotion would have sent me straight into checked-out mode. I’d pile on the distractions or numb out with sugar, food or alcohol. And if that didn’t work, I’d “space out” (i.e. dissociate).
Those were the only strategies I knew.
But now that I’m actually staying present with my emotions, I’ve noticed something different.
Not all emotions are created equal.
What do I mean by that?
Well, in addition to grief, I’ve also been experiencing a truckload of emotions about my family’s less-than-functional patterns, which have been layered into our interactions this week, making an already painful situation even more difficult.
When I stay present with myself as I experience grief over Jasmine versus, say, anger or sadness as I relate to my family, I’m aware of how incredibly distinct these two forms of emotion really are…and why this matters.
The two forms of emotions
My grief is happening in the present day. When I stay with these feelings, they arise, they move through me, often powerfully so, and I feel changed by their passage.
For lack of a better descriptor, these emotional experiences feel dynamic and alive. Are they painful? God yes. And yet they feel whole-ing and integrating. My body seems lighter and more expansive when I let myself feel them.
In contrast, when I interact with a family member and start feeling hopeless or lonely about the lack of connection, this emotion feels old and weighted.
It’s like a giant wheel that’s been turning and turning and turning for ages, continuing to creak along its rusty, cyclical path.
And in particular, the experience in my body is very different.
I feel a heaviness that doesn’t subside after I feel the feelings.
It lingers and, at best, is something I can distract myself from for a bit, but in doing so I feel less whole, less integrated, like there’s a part of myself that I’m trying to swat away like a nagging fly.
The latter emotions are essentially hitting the replay button in my psyche. The old childhood wounds are projected back onto the screen of my inner world, and I can do this again and again and again.
The energy doesn’t shift or change by pressing the replay button. I don’t feel a sense of release or grounding afterward, like I do when I allow myself to feel present-day emotions.
And the more I hit the replay button, the heavier I feel in my body. The energy starts to accumulate, creating physical tension and achiness, like the monster headache I had for three days straight.
Most of us have our own form of the replay button. We get triggered, and we automatically go into the loop, feeling the past all over again.
How can we tell the difference?
What I’m finding is that present-day emotions tend to:
- Leave us feeling some combination of clarity, calm, grounding or expansion after we fully feel them.
- Help us experience shifts in our inner world, which then inspire shifts in the outer world.
- Leave our mind feeling more settled in the face of what is.
- Feel dynamic in the body. They tend to move into and through us, palpably transforming as they do so.
Replay emotions, in contrast, tend to:
- Leave us feeling some combination of hopeless, helpless, agitated or tense after we feel them.
- Bring us back into past experiences, keeping us stuck in old patterns of reacting.
- Leave our mind anxious, ruminating and resistant to what is.
- Feel heavy in the body. They tend to collect in certain areas, leading to pain, tension or dis-ease.
I’m learning that it takes practice to tell the difference between the two, because they can occur together.
For instance, I talked to a relative who made a comment about my needing to “take better care” of my grandmother, from whom I am intentionally estranged (a decision that took me many years to make and has had a profoundly positive effect on my mental-emotional wellbeing).
In staying present with the tsunami of emotions that arose in response, I became aware that some of the anger was replay emotion: I felt like a little kid being chastised for not “just putting up with” the pain of relating to my grandma (a family-wide strategy) and for being “too sensitive and needy.”
This anger catches me in an endless loop, and it does nothing to help me disentangle from family patterns. It keeps me stuck, wanting to defend myself and control how my family sees me, which, in reality, I cannot do.
And then there was also present-day anger at someone wanting me to return to a deeply damaging relationship that took me many years (and a lot of work, solo and in therapy) to extricate myself from, under the guise of “being a loving family.” To hell with mental health! Just suck it up and return to the status quo.
That anger was transformative:
It clarified where my boundaries need to be reinforced, it helped me see new ways to support myself at the upcoming memorial service, and it inspired me to take care of my inner child parts who are afraid of disappointing my family.
Present-day emotions give us valuable information about our inner and outer world, helping us make wiser decisions, build new skills, and seek support when we need it.
Replay emotions keep us stuck in our limited childhood skill- and mindset, feeling unresolved hurts over and over again with no real end in sight. It’s as if we’re back to being nine years old again, and we’re no better equipped to handle those patterns than we were back then.
On this Full Moon in Taurus…
…allow your body to help you discern between present-day and replay emotions.
Go back to the bulleted lists above–which qualities more closely match with what you’re experiencing?
If you find, like I did, that you’re experiencing a lot of replay emotions, now is a great time to take a step out of that loop and into healing.
Decide on a self-care action and take it. You could:
Make an appointment with a therapist. If you don’t have one, make your first step compiling a list of 2-3 potential therapists and getting in touch with each one to see who feels like a good match.
The energy is powerfully in your favor right now to make whole-ing choices by incorporating your body’s wisdom into your decision making…
…and taking your first action step to make your decision a reality.
Happy Full Moon.