I am not a particularly avid fisherman.  I'll go if my friend invites me on his boat [didn't make it this season] but I do like one fishing metaphor in particular–the notion of CATCH & RELEASE.

I believe it has particular relevance regarding handling our negative emotions.  We all know them and all too well:  anxiety, sadness, grief, anger…..   They are part of the spectrum of human feelings and no one escapes their occasional visitation. 

But what happens when they seem to be around a bit too much ?  It is easy to become weighed down by their darkness, their negativity.  It is all to easy to find ourselves lethargic, weak, without motivation and even physically ill.  We can find ourselves loosing our momentum, becoming anxious or depressed.  We don't feel well and we want to change but find it difficult. Passivity seems to swallow and we feel weighed down, blocked from enjoying anything.

Sometimes we seek to suppress these feelings and choose the usual suspects–alcohol, drugs, sex.  Or we try to deny them. 

Yet they are too powerful for either approach to be truly successful. And in fact such attempts have the opposite effect– suppression or denial usually leads to a strengthening of their impact on us.

Perhaps the fishing metaphor can help.  Firstly, acknowledge them.  Don't pretend that you don't feel them.  Doing so actually is the first step towards loosening their hold—crucial in the healing process itself.

Acknowledge them and understand why they are there.  Often there is a reason:  personal or professional difficulties.  Job stress, financial stress, world stress, personal difficulties.  You can fill out the list as well as I can. 

Acknowledge that they are there and why.  Then let them go.  Release them as you would a beautiful fish that you caught but have no intention of eating.

Ah, you say, easier said than done.  To be sure.  But it is easier when you believe/know that you can.  Catch the negative emotion, understand it, plan a course of healing of the underlying cause [if possible] then release the emotion.  It is no longer helpful.  You've got the message.

Realize that sometimes the emotion hangs around longer than need be.  Send it away consciously and the feeling may very well lift.  Focus your awareness on the solutions to the underlying problems.  Make a list, set tasks for yourself.  They may not come to fruition but the very act of taking action [rather than slipping into passivity] will surely help the healing process.

Catch & release.  Good fishing!

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