Welcoming Emotions with Open Arms

The therapist that I intern under presented a poem in one of her groups this past week, and I wanted to share it with you all..

The Guest House 

“This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

as an unexpected visitor. 

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep your house 

empty of its furniture,

still treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out

for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

meet them at the door laughing 

and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,

because each has been sent

as a guide from above.”

-Rumi

We as humans, experience a wide variety of emotions. Emotions are complex. Emotions come and go constantly. Sometimes we anticipate emotions, and sometimes they come seemingly out of nowhere. Some emotions we experience are “positive”, while others are “negative”. I sometimes will tell myself “I’m not supposed to feel this way” when experiencing certain emotions. When “negative” emotions such as fear, worthlessness, jealousy, or grief show up, a lot of us rather ignore them or instantly try to make them go away. Notice that I put the word negative in quotation marks. I’m not sure who deemed some emotions good and some bad, but I think they are a natural part of the human experience. Some of the kids that I work with struggle with “anger problems” and I often tell them that feeling angry is ok, it’s about how you handle and cope with that anger. I believe the same can be said for a lot of our emotions. 

I think the poem is brilliant in that it illustrates emotions as “guests”. Instead of being so ready to get rid of guests we don’t particularly like, what if we welcomed them? What if we were patient with them? What if we could learn something from them?

Sometimes guests do overstay their welcome. We have to be willing to tell them “it’s time to go now”. I think that being accepting of our emotions is great, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t set boundaries or limits around them. Sometimes our emotions can overpower us and that’s when we experience changes in ourselves. A lot of the times these changes aren’t for the better and then perhaps it’s time to seek additional help. 

I try to accept whatever emotions come my way. If I need to, I’ll dig deep to try and understand why it is I’m feeling a way. After that, I resort to various coping strategies like journaling, singing, exercising, or deep cleaning my whole apartment. If there is ever again a time that my emotions are just too overpowering, then I’ll go back to seeing therapist. Being accepting, mindful, and proactive regarding my emotions is working very well for me so far. 

I want to know your thoughts on the poem! Feel free to leave a comment or contact me directly. I’d love to hear from you! 

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