The Guest House
This is one of my favorite poems regarding how to deal with thoughts, feelings, and emotions. I'll explain more after the poem. I hope you enjoy:
The Guest House
— Jellaludin Rumi, translation by Coleman Barks
This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are 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 whatever comes because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.
Very often, we treat our thoughts, feelings, and emotions with resistance or hesitancy. We push anything unwanted as far away as possible.
Have you ever noticed the more you push the unwanted thoughts and feelings away, the more they remain, and sometimes they even get stronger! Carl Jung once shared, "What you resist not only persists, but will grow in size.”
What we resist persists.
This poem is all about not resisting our thoughts or emotions. Which in a nutshell is mindfulness.
What would it look like if you didn't push away your anxiety, depression, anger, or loneliness?
What would it look like if you just noticed them? What if when they came knocking at your door, and you answered with a welcoming smile, inviting them in? What if you offered them some tea or a beer or watch the game together?
Easier said than done, but I encourage you to play with this. If you tried this, please share your experience in the comments.
Want to dig a little deeper? Imagine the emotion knocking at the door as a younger version of yourself. The younger the better (like 3, 4, or 5). Imagine your 3-year-old self (representing your anxiety or another emotion) coming up to you crying and sad because they got hurt or have a "boo-boo."
How would you treat that child?
I think most of us would scoop that child up in our arms, empathize with their experience, validate their wound, and tell them it's going to be okay. Consider this when troublesome thoughts, feelings, and emotions arise next time.