Since I started to experience the energetic side of being human, its been fascinating to realize how many turns of speech are references to things that actually happen on that level. The phrase “to be beside yourself with” an emotion, e.g. grief, anxiety, fear, or even joy, is a literal description of what often happens when we experience intense emotion in the body.
Unless we have cultivated a friendly relationship with our emotions, when they arise intensely our spirit often choses to leave, and we dissociate, upwards, sideways, or elsewhere. This is a built in protective response, to avoid overwhelming and crashing the system. It is meant to be a temporary condition, not a habitual or permanent one. When we come to fear our emotions we become cut off from a large part of who we are. The space in our being in which our spirit and soul experience life is shut off to keep old incomplete emotions at bay and we become permanently beside ourselves.
In order to embody our Soul fully we need to allow those old emotions to complete, release and evolve. Giving space to unfinished, unexperienced, dissociated emotions means coming back into relationship with them by learning that we can experience them safely (if not entirely comfortably) and come out the other side being more fully our Self.
Being present with your emotions is not the same as being in your emotions, as being identified with them. Being besides yourself creates a little distance between you and your emotions. This is appropriate, as they are not your essence. Being in relationship is the middle way between identification and complete dissociation.
With an inner orientation you can anchor in your Essence, staying present with your emotions and allowing them to move through your body. Let them be beside you, while you remain embodied. Practice experiencing them, staying inside the edge of being overwhelmed. Let the natural fear and resistance rise up and evaporate off, like the fog lifting in the morning, or a static charge grounding into the earth. When they are particularly intense having someone you trust to hold space for you, as witness, can be key.
With experience, you will be able to hold space for more often yourself. Make friends with your emotions as pure states of being, not the stories that the mind attaches to them, trying to justify or make sense of them. That is the level where attachment and resistance arise and it is necessary to let it go. As you learn to be present with the physical experience, even the energy of dissociation, which is meant to eject you, will eventually dissipate, creating a wonderful spaciousness for your life force to flow in.
Just as for a child that is emotional, you simply need to be present, hold them and know that they will be ok; that the tears, or fears, or joy will come and then pass on. This is the nature of energy. Learning to be in relationship with your emotions, to give them space without leaving, is learning to hold space for yourself to experience them and then say goodbye. Let your emotions be beside you, knowing that you can walk with them without fear, knowing that the body can experience them and let them pass through. You are reclaiming your body as home to your Self.