Even for the most tuned-in of individuals, Cobban says that our emotions can take us by surprise. “Sometimes our deepest feelings turn up when we don’t expect it and seem out of proportion because they were in the ‘shadow bag’ and we ignored them for too long,” she explains. “But they were still there, only now we don’t get to control which of them comes back out at times when we are vulnerable because we haven’t been looking after our wellbeing.”
Instead, Cobban suggests that we need to learn how to feel our feelings, not judge them or create a narrative about their meaning, but to simply allow them to be felt. “If you approach emotions as waves of energy that will pass and reveal deeper meaning, they can become less scary and more beneficial, much like allowing the ‘pain’ of paying your tax so you can reach the feeling of peace once it’s off your plate,” she advises.
Once you recognise an emotion or feel an outburst on the horizon, she suggests taking the time to stop and sit with it, experiencing it as a wave through your body, then as the wave passes look at what comes next. “That next emotion will tell you much more about what is really going on and allow you to take steps towards getting what you really need, rather than putting it in the shadow bag for another day when it will become unrecognisable from the place where it began,” she adds.