It is difficult to quickly control a strong negative emotion; the more we try to control it, the more it becomes agitated and resurfaces. Even if we control it, we may end up merely suppressing it, only for it to reemerge later. Imagine that a strong negative emotion is like mud swirling inside a fish tank. To get the mud to sink to the bottom of the tank so you can have a clear view of the fish, the last thing you want to do is submerge your hands in the muddy water and try to push the mud to the bottom. The more you try to push it down, the more you churn it up. Similarly, in an attempt to control a negative emotion, you may try to push it down. Unfortunately, the harder you try, the more it resurfaces.
So what should we do? How can we better understand our negative emotions and try to resolve them instead of suppressing them? The answer is fairly simple. All we have to do is separate the raw energy of negative emotions from linguistic labels like “anger” or “hatred” and then witness it calmly until the energy morphs into something else. What is important here is not to get attached to words like “anger,” “hatred,” and “jealousy,” and instead to witness the raw energy behind the labels. Although it may be subtle, the energy constantly changes while the label remains static. If you peel the label off and get in touch with the raw energy, you soon realize that the negative emotion is only temporary, one that changes without your efforts. Therefore, much like a mirror reflects what is before it without judgment or identification with the image, simply reflect the negative emotion—let’s say it’s anger—and watch dispassionately. You will see the anger slowly changing shape, either revealing a deeper layer of emotion or disappearing on its own. If another layer of emotion is revealing itself, attend to it the way you did with your anger.”
Excerpt From: Haemin Sunim. “The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down: How to Be Calm and Mindful in a Fast-Paced World”.