People are afraid of themselves, of their own reality; their feelings most of all.… Jim Morrison
We live in a world where mirrors are often the medium that perpetuate self-hate, or build fragile egos that stand shakily on the sands of vanity. They are rarely used to look at the reflection of one you love completely… Yourself. Feelings are disturbing. We are conditioned, at a cellular level, to believe that pain must be resisted because facing it directly will harm our psyche. How ,then, can we love, if we are fearful of facing our feelings?
When we learn that pain is a wake-up call, we will not try to hide from it. Feelings of disgust, anger, fear, dislike, envy, are essential steps that each of us have to take in our journey of inner growth. They draw our attention to those parts of self that have risen from the dark depths, ready and eager to be en-lightened. If we are ashamed of these feelings, we will lose this glorious opportunity, and waste precious time in trying to push them down again. This time can be well-spent to throw light on these feelings, understand their cause, and move towards assimilation in a healthy and positive manner.
Pain helps you to experience your strength. It is only when you face a challenge that you know how power-full you are, and how many resources you have within lying untapped. Self- blame, and blame towards others, weakens your resources, and leaves you empty and spent. Judgment and criticism contaminates your resources, and makes them as ‘impure’ as that which you have judged.
Your feelings are a part of you; they are your reality. How can you hide from them? When you harbour guilt or shame about what you feel, you give your power away by letting society destroy your reality. The first lesson you must learn, and learn forever, is that you are bigger than society. There is no element of this society, which is singly or collectively, bigger than you. Why, then, must you be less than what you are in order to meet an ephemeral and fickle expectation? Why are you so often content to give the strong reins of your power to another who cruelly uses them as the strings of a puppeteer?
How often have you complained, ‘I don’t understand my feelings’? Feelings are not logical. They do not follow empirical laws and mathematical equations. They cannot be rationalised . When you attempt to intellectualise and rationalise your emotions you pose danger to yourself. The energy of feelings is different from the energy of thought, and if you attempt to handle this energy in the same way you handle the thought energy, you will not only cause harm to your physical health and your relationships, but you will place a seemingly insurmountable hurdle in the path of your success, both, material and spiritual.
Feelings and thoughts are two sides of a coin. Our reactions and responses are the result of the energy mix of these two. The mental energy helps us to formulate our thoughts, beliefs, interpretations, and convictions. The emotional energy gives rise to emotions and sensations. Giving vent to our feelings is essential if we wish to be in harmony within, and with the outer world. It is impossible not to vent our feelings, but when you try to push them down, this venting may take the form of emotional imprisonment, manipulation, aggression, violence, and deliberate hurt inflicted on others, because self is hurting so bad. When difficult feelings are acknowledged without fear, they are expressed without resistance, and the sharp edges are dulled, making it easier to release or let go of the bad feeling.
What happens when you fear the feeling? When you want to hide from your feelings, you only express your beliefs about the event and not the feelings; the ‘bad’ feelings linger and become harder to release. Very often when you say, “I feel that…” you are, in fact, expressing a belief, and not touching the feeling at all. Let me help you with a few guidelines about how to express your feelings.
Be specific about how you feel. Do not hide behind general terms like ‘bad’, ‘upset’ and so on. Rather identify whether ‘bad’ means ‘irritated’, ‘anxious’, ‘hurt’, ‘lonely’. Once you have specified the feeling, convey the degree of the feeling so that you are not misunderstood. You could, for example, say ‘I am very angry about ….’, or ‘I am mildly irritated with…….’ When expressing the feeling, identify first the behaviour or the external trigger that gave rise to the feeling. Saying ‘I am angry with you….’ does not really tell the other anything, because the other truly may not know what specific aspect of the behaviour has caused you anger. This lack of clarity generally results in the other becoming defensive or feeling threatened, and the message of your feelings is lost due to this. Specify ‘I was hurt that my words of advice were not heeded.’ Often we have mixed feelings about a situation. For e.g. you may be thankful for the help given to you, but be anxious about your privacy being invaded. Express these mixed feelings clearly. State clearly what you would prefer so that in the future the other is mindful about your needs.
Voicing your needs is not the same thing as being ‘needy’ and powerless’. Experience this difference at a gut level. Expressing your feelings does not make you defenceless and vulnerable. If you truly experience this within you, you must search within to discover the ways in which you use your knowledge of others’ needs to hurt them, due to which this belief has established itself within you. Why are you so distrustful of others? What in yourself do you distrust? Use the ‘I feel…’ statements to express yourself, and to avoid a build-up of internal emotional pressure which releases itself uncontrollably and hysterically at a future date. These statements help you to maintain and strengthen your relationships, result in a growth of your self-esteem, and do not attack the self-worth of another.
Complex situations can be made simpler when you clarify yourself, express your difficult feelings, be sensitive to yourself as well as to the other, and explain why a change in behaviour would make you more comfortable. Turn the statement to point to self, rather than to the other. For e.g. it is more effective when you say “I resent it when you help others but not me, because it makes me feel that I am unimportant to you”. The mistake you would commonly make is to state a belief and confuse that with your feeling, e.g. I believe that you help others because they are more important…That is your belief, which is the result of your perception; it is not your feeling. Your statements must focus on you, so that the element of self-responsibility is always present. Do not indulge in accusatory statements which deplete your inner resources by arising out of blame.
As I end, these words come to mind, and though I do not remember the author, I express my gratitude … “Run your fingers through my soul. For once, just once, feel exactly what I feel, believe what I believe, perceive as I perceive, look, experience, examine, and for once; just once, understand.” This is the inner cry of every person, and it can be fulfilled only when you allow another into your soul. Open your soul, dearest friend; Paradise awaits you.