Imagine your emotions are a hungry cat.
For those of you who love cats (and especially for you non-cat people), you know what I'm talking about: when a cat is hungry, IT IS PERSISTENT. It will stop at nothing until you give it what it wants. The persistent cat is your painful emotions. So take a moment and bring to you mind's eye a hungry cat...
You shut the cat out of the bedroom. It continues to meow outside the door.
You kick the cat out of the house, and the yowling intensifies so the whole neighborhood is awakened.
You somehow manage to fall into a fitful sleep, but the hungry cat is persistent; lurking outside your window, staring at you...waiting for the moment when your guard is down to pounce.
You wake up, and try to work. The cat jumps on your lap and sticks its butt in your face, ruining your concentration.
You're getting more and more annoyed. You yell at the cat scaring it and making it run out of the room. You settle into your work, and right when you're about to have that major breakthrough, the cat leaps from the top of the bookshelf and lands on your back, activating your fight or flight instinct.
In your desperate attempt to get rid of the annoying cat, you take it outside and shoot it. But...cats have nine lives, so it's back to bugging you again.
You just can't beat a hungry cat.
In our annoyance and desperation to make the cat stop pestering us, we forget to stop and wonder what the cat needs. So, stop. Look into those big kitty cat eyes and see the hungry desperation that is driving this cat to make your life miserable just to get a bowl of kibble.
What's the simple solution? Feed the cat.
It's the same with emotions. They are trying to communicate that something is out of balance with us: That we have a need that is not getting met or are taking a course of action that is not in line with our values. If we can pause and listen to what our emotions are trying to tell us, we can experience an internal sense of purring and find renewed energy to go off and hunt our figurative mice.
But, let's face it, emotions, like cats, are wild and unpredictable, so they will come back again when they want some attention. Next time you feel yourself starting to ignore or actively push away those pesky painful emotions, look them in their kitty cat face and ask them what they are trying to communicate. You'll feel a whole lot better in the long run.