What if envy had a vital message? What if all of the darker emotions had vital messages for us? What if being true to yourself means honouring all of the emotions?
The idea of the 4 Elements appears in many traditions and cultures. The Kabbalah, Astrology, The Tarot, Native American wisdom – all of these use the idea that we’re made up of the 4 basic elements of earth, water, air and fire. These 4 elements correspond to different part of our human selves:
Earth – the physical body
Water – the emotions
Air – thoughts and beliefs, the intellect
Fire – our creativity, imagination, intuition and the spiritual self
Having total wellbeing means that all 4 elements are working in harmony with each other and are balanced. The problem we have in western societies is that the air element tends to overpower all the others. In many education systems, intellectual achievement is valued over everything else. Wiser schools and colleges know that creativity (fire), movement in the physical body (earth) and emotional intelligence (water) are just as vital to our overall intelligence as pure academic enquiry is.
The darker emotions (water) like envy, anger, fear and shame are only darker because we rarely bring them into the light of awareness. But when we take the time to listen to their messages, they can give us invaluable insights to navigate whatever we’re facing and find the truth of it. The deeper truth is always healing.
Whenever I feel one of the darker emotions come up, my first place to look it up is Karla McLaren’s excellent book “The Language of Emotions”. Emotions originate in the lower parts of the brain – the limbic system and they are responses to our environment – both the external environment (around our physical bodies) and in response to our internal beliefs and thoughts. When we get the higher parts of the brain that deal with thinking to connect up with and work with the lower parts of the brain, we get more control over our state and can move through problems and issues with more ease. Life is richer and fuller. This is air and water working together.
But when the thinking part of the brain is cut off from the emotions, we can buy into collective thinking and ideas that stunt our own development and keep us small. For example, the idea that emotions are primitive and dumb and should never be on show became a collective belief about emotions. Living from this intellect-centred view shuts off a vital part of ourselves that brings integrity to our whole systems. We have the evidence of what a lack of emotion does to us – humans can commit unspeakable acts of violence and cruelty when there is no regulation from emotions, such as in the case of some psychopaths, sociopaths and extreme narcissists. But those who feel emotions richly are often the great healers and compassionate, visionary contributors to society.
I noticed my own envy coming up about other people’s business successes. Karla differentiates between jealousy and envy. She says that jealousy is about unfaithfulness or deceit in close relationships whereas envy is about “unfair distribution of resources or recognition”. Boy, oh boy does that resonate for me! “Why do all these other business owners get to have thriving businesses (i.e. good income) and recognition when I’m struggling?” The clue to answering this question my mind invented is in Karla’s empathic practice for dealing with envy:
Discern whether you’re responding to disloyalty and unfairness in others or to your own lack of self-regard and worthiness. In either case, restore your boundaries first; then listen to your intuition and honor the anger and fear inside…envy.
The Language of Emotions, p.263
What an insight! My envy is really about my own lack of self- regard and worthiness and it’s OK to feel that and to acknowledge it. The inner work is to dive into it and see what guidance my intuition has on what my next step is. Karla has another gem of an explanation of diving into envy:
When your envy is welcomed and channelled honorably, it will help you uncover unhealed issues and traumas that continue to haunt your present-day behavior. p.276
When I did deep dive into it, sure enough, there was a massive unhealed trauma and belief about being abandoned by important meant. It was blocking the flow of masculine energy in me and now it’s healed, the flow has restored. I’ll share more about this on a Facebook live because there are useful insights for everyone on the spiritual path.
By taking the time to stop, listen in and honour the insights that envy brought me, my energetic system is flowing better leaving me with better wellbeing in the present. All the answers we really need are inside. I call this inner healing wisdom our soul’s song. We just need to get still and quiet enough to listen to its message and let it work its magic.
I’m creating a programme to help balance out the 4 elements and listen to the soul song. I’ll do both an online course-based and a 1-1 session based version of the course. If you’d be interested in being a beta tester for either version at a reduced rate, please do get in contact by FB message or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Here’s to embracing ALL of the emotions and letting the water element live fully in our lives. <3