Feeling Your Feelings
Feelings are a part of our human experience - the great and the not-so-great. They are in part what make us who we are. We're sensory beings - we're hardwired to smell, to taste, to touch, to hear, to see, to feel. However when we experience the not so pleasant emotions like anger or rage or grief or hurt, we do our best to block them out and ignore them. In essence we do our best to rid ourselves of the unpleasant experiences, yet hold on to the great experiences.
The trouble with this approach is that every feeling or emotion is judged based on how it feels. Rage or anger isn't a particularly pleasant experience - it doesn't feel that nice. I get that. Happiness however feels great. That's a pleasant experience. So rage is bad. Happiness is good. But what if I were to tell you that no emotion or feeling is bad or good, or negative or positive? Every emotion has it's merit - it's what we do with it that really matters.
Rumi, the Persian Sufi poet and philosopher, aptly describes in his poem THE GUEST HOUSE that when we actually allow our emotions to be experienced, as in felt, and acknowledged, (this includes the not-so-pleasant emotions) the emotions are then able to pass quickly through us, a bit like a cloud floating by in the sky. When we become aware of how we feel, and truly be with what ever we are experiencing with acceptance and non-judgment, the emotion can be more easily dissolved. Our bodies simply become a conduit for the emotion as it floats in and as it departs.
The more you ignore what you're really feeling, the longer the feeling will hang around, knocking at your door, demanding to be noticed. To put this into context, maybe you feel hurt about something that has happened to you at work. If you ignore how you feel (hurt), or dismiss any physical sensations associated with this hurt (discomfort in the stomach), that feeling of being hurt will hang around to get noticed until it eventually starts screaming at you. Perhaps that feeling of hurt will create anger which you act out by being less patient with others. Perhaps that feeling of hurt will be covered up by being angry to others who have done you no wrong.
As that hurt continues to be ignored, it can lead to more serious issues like disease in the body. For instance, there is now scientific evidence to show that heartache can be a precursor for heart disease. Unreleased emotions get stored in the body unless they find their way out!
Yes life has its ups and downs and it doesn’t always go the way we want it to. Yet actually this is just the way life is. It’s our response, not our reaction, to what we experience that makes the difference.
Turn towards every feeling you have. Get curious, Explore it. If it's too sensitive, then back off a little and approach it again when you feel it's appropriate. When you can acknowledge the unpleasant feeling and stay with it and be with it, always with compassion and kindness, you will find that it will dissolve on its own accord.
Emotions are meant to come and go - so allow them to come and go. Don't hold on to them. Don't ignore them. Welcome each and every emotion you experience like you would a long lost friend.
P.S. Please note that if you are feeling depressed, or anxious it is important to seek the right medical attention or advice. This post does not relate to mental health issues which need careful and considered guidance..