Have you noticed you tend to cycle between two specific feelings-an emotional polarity that pulls you back and forth, such as anger/sadness or anxiety/self-judgment? Or you have a dominant mood when you wake up or at another specific time of day? Or a go-to addiction to soothe yourself? Would you like to understand these better and find a way beyond them to more enduring peace, joy, love, abundance, and flow?
I’ve discovered I have a specific emotional polarity I’ve repeated for years-and am now learning to transcend. Let me begin by sharing this experience, in case it resonates with you. Then, we’ll talk about how to recognize your own polarities, moods, and addictions, and move through them.
Excitement and Disappointment
Over the course of many years, I noticed my life tends to ebb and flow between excitements and disappointments. I get excited about something, very excited, focus a lot of time and energy into this something, then quickly get disappointed with the results, very disappointed, and retreat. For example, I plan a class, get excited to organize the material and put out promotions, then get disappointed and discouraged when no one, or very few, sign up.
I experience this polarity of excitement/disappointment in many ways. In rooting for sports teams, in putting myself out there in social situations, and even as a general outlook on the state of human life here on earth. I frequently get excited and quickly get disappointed. Then, I pick myself up and cycle through the next round of excitement and disappointment. This has made me fairly resilient, but not happy, peaceful, or joyful.
Now, you might say, “Well, that’s just the nature of life. Everyone gets excited and disappointed.” That’s true, it’s part of being human. There’s nothing wrong with that and nothing to be fixed.
Yet, my disappointment often feels big to me. Sometimes it has overwhelmed me. It sometimes feels like “that’s the way my life is.” And, in the past, it has generated a fairly constant mood of melancholy in which I wonder why I am here. This melancholy mood leads me to search for things to make me feel good-something to eat or drink, something inspiring to watch or read, something to buy-anything to uplift my mood.
Again, you might say, “Well, that’s normal. That’s part of being human. We all feel stuff and look for ways to feel better. There’s nothing wrong there, nothing to fix.”
In a sense, that’s true. The nature of life is not to feel good all the time. Yet, the goal is also not to be free from feeling. Yet, my melancholy mood tends to do that. It’s a defense against feeling disappointed by not getting excited. It leaves me feeling little to nothing and wondering why I am here. It leaves me feeling purposeless.
So, I’ve always yearned to be free from this polarity. Not to be free from feeling the variety of feelings in life-but to be free from this repeating pattern that has tended to dominate my consciousness and keep me from an enduring peace and joy that I know is available underneath all of that.
Steps to Freedom
The first step for me was to notice this pattern-then, to really track it. I had to exercise mindfulness to be able to see it clearly without judging myself harshly for feeling this way. I had to see how pervasive this polarity was and how profoundly it affected my experiences and relationships.
One practice that helps me see the polarity and not to “be it,” is to shift to a state of open, clear, spacious awareness. In this state of consciousness, I step back and witness any polarity, any pattern, any thought, feeling, or behavior within a wide space of awareness.
A simple way to do this is to imagine you are seated above and behind your head looking at yourself from a lofty spacious viewpoint, observing your thoughts, feelings, actions, and results as a curious observer within a very wide space. Within this spacious awareness, any specific experience feels small, limited, manageable, and surmountable. Rather than being consumed and gripped by a persistent or intense thought, feeling, or behavior, I am able to see it as a momentary and insubstantial phenomena within a much larger field of possibilities.
The wide space of awareness enables me to see my patterns clearly, let them go if they no longer serve me or others, and welcome new possibilities. This is not an instantly permanent shift. It requires repeated efforts to recognize and release old polarities. Yet, I’ve found the practice of open, clear, spacious awareness has now become my dominant baseline state-and that polarities arise and fade without pulling me in or dragging me down into their orbit. I’ve also discovered an enduring sense of peace and joy from resting in the open, clear, spacious awareness itself.
So, what are your dominant polarities? What moods do they generate? And what addictive tendencies do they feed?
You can learn to recognize these by tracking your dominant emotions and noticing the ones that tend to flip from one feeling into an opposite or opposing feeling. Notice your dominant moods and see how these are reactions to your dominant polarity. Then, notice any addictive behaviors and how these are reactions to this mood and a defense to counter it.
As you practice mindfulness and open, clear, spacious awareness you can notice all of this without being caught up in it or consumed by it. You’ll come to discover that any polarity is not “who you are.” You are a witnessing presence, a wider space of awareness, who can choose to welcome and inhabit new possibilities.