Can you feel it?
Some people find feelings really yuck. We have a lot of ideas and judgements about our negative feelings. Feelings seem to slow you down and waste your time. Why be angry? Why be frustrated? Just let it go – surely it’s just a problem you have with yourself anyway? Why be sad, ugh sad people are such wet mops, such bores. They aren’t fun. Depression; even worse, no one wants someone who is depressed around. Just hurry up and get on with it. Lighten up. Get over it and carry on. You’re scared? Toughen up. It’s not that scary, get real. Fear is a waste of time. I don’t get scared. Never ever. Other people have real things to be afraid of, so you really don’t even have the right to feel scared. Self anger, self hatred- well yeah I don’t feel great about myself, yes I hate the way I look I hate the way I talk I hate who I am but that’s fine, isn’t it? Who cares? Shame, embarrassment, guilt, Whatever. Yes I can vaguely sense these things – I avoid making eye contact with people, I talk about myself like I’m the worst excuse for a human ever, I slump when I walk; but it’s ok, it’s who I am and it’s fine. But then again, maybe it’s not fine.
We really put a lot of effort in avoiding our feelings. We try and pretend they don’t exist, covering them up with smiles or cynicism. Or maybe you don’t deny your feelings at all but instead attach them to the ideas of who you think you are. “I’m a (sad/angry/hopeless/passive) person”. We wear our feelings like a badge – and rather than let them go just hold them there, believing they will never change and are just the way it is – our lot in life, and who we are. Either way unexpressed feelings are held in our bodies and our energetic fields. They become almost like an armour. The anger in our jaw, the sadness in our shoulders, the fear in our bellies. And energetically, if you aren’t honest about how you feel, your energy will keep creating situations or scenarios in your life to help you to acknowledge your feelings. Your unacknowledged anger might blurt out inappropriately, small things might trigger your frustration, your deep rage. Maybe you’ll notice and feel strongly other people’s sadness, hopelessness. Maybe you’ll cry at odd times.
It can be hard to be clear about how you feel. Feelings can be confusing. There are also layers, so you could genuinely feel sad, frustrated, angry, depressed, fearful and hopeful all about the same thing. All are legitimate and sometimes it’s a matter of going through each layer, as long as it takes, sitting and being in each feeling, with huge amounts of compassion for yourself. Talking with people you trust seems to be the best way of getting through the murk. Our habitual defences also try every trick in the book to stop us from getting right in there, right to the core of how we feel. If we judge anger then we will do anything rather than admit or acknowledge that we are angry. If we judge sadness or fear we won’t be comfortable being those things. We seem to find comfort in some emotions more than others. The truth is that no emotion is better or worse than any other and any emotion can feel ok as long as you can really acknowledge it. Really sit in it without judgement. With an open hearted, loving curiosity rather than a closed, critical and self hating coldness.
Feeling and connecting with our emotions can also reveal a limiting belief we have about ourselves. Something maybe we picked up a long time ago which made us feel like we’re not a good person, that there is something inherently wrong with us. Going into the feeling and finding out what that belief is, is the way to shine light on it and realise it’s not us, not truth, that we actually have nothing to be ashamed of and can let it go.
Feelings aren’t who we are but they do help us connect to who we are. If we ignore how we feel then we deny a part of ourselves that is trying to show us something. Anger can show us what is and what isn’t ok by us. Sadness can show us our vulnerability, our gentleness, our humanness. Fear can show us what we want or need. Emotions aren’t a nuisance or irritant that we all have to put up with, they are life. Our lives, our experience. They show us that we are living and breathing, that we care, that we matter. If we judge other people for their feelings then we probably judge and deny our own feelings 10 times more. But our feelings are what connects us to each other, allows us to share in our vulnerabilities and connects us to our purpose and meaning in life. Sometimes we put a lot of attention into being spiritual or connected or psychic, and we will meditate and chant and do yoga or other so-called “enlightened” and fairly complex things to self actualise. Maybe the most authentic, honest and simple thing you can do is simply honour how you feel.