"The great art of life is sensation, to feel that we exist, even in pain." Lord Byron
Feelings – you can’t really get away from ‘em can you? They’re a result of what we think (or don’t think as the case may be), and, more often than not, we’re thinking (even though we’re not always aware that we are!). We each have an inner dialogue going on that we’ve become so accustomed to hearing that, quite often, we don’t even realise we’re having it. Like living by a busy road – eventually we become so accustomed to the constant sound of traffic that we don’t notice it. In fact – we notice it more when it’s not there! Imagine what would happen if we were able to stop the inner dialogue so that there was silence in our mind. Oooh that’s a bit scary isn’t it! A bit eerie even. Despite the fact that the inner dialogue often has us feeling crappy, we find a strange comfort in it so that even the very idea of having a silent mind can be quite a fearful thing for many.
When we experience thoughts and feelings that we don’t like, we often try to squash them back into the box – like pushing a jack-in-a-box back into it’s box. The thing is, eventually, something will trigger the box to open and the thoughts and feelings will come rushing out again. Unfortunately they’re not always as harmless as a clown popping out of a box, they can feel like a boxing glove rushing out to slap us in the face.
As a therapist, I know of loads of techniques for letting go of fears and negative thoughts, and so I practice, daily, working these things through and letting go of them. Not such a bad thing as it means I can stay relatively centred and happy for the majority of the time. However, something I realised recently is that it’s not always helpful immediately to push thoughts out of your mind. Thoughts and feelings are there for a reason. They’re there to help us grow, learn, and experience. If we constantly push them away, then we’re not really experiencing them, and so can find it more challenging to learn and grow.
I’m not saying that we should not use therapies to let go of fears – absolutely not. What I’m saying is, that it can also be helpful to face these thoughts and fearful emotions head on….. and let them wash over us. Like waves over a rock. We’re clearly thinking and feeling these things for a reason and if we constantly keep dissolving them before we can understand why we’re having them, they’ll keep coming back. And when they do come back, you can bet your bottom dollar they’ll come back even stronger!
The thing to remember about these thoughts and feelings is that they can’t actually hurt you. Of course our thoughts can cause us to feel down, upset, angry, and fed up etc, but they won’t physically harm us. It’s persistent thoughts and feelings that can lead us to do things that bring harm and disruption to our lives. If something’s persisting, then it means we haven’t understood what the message is that’s being given to us. The Universe is infinitely patient and infinitely creative and resourceful. If we don’t “get it” from one approach, then we’ll experience something else, and something else, and something else until we do.
It’s helpful to allow yourself time to face negative thoughts and feelings head on. Allow them to pass over you, and through you, leaving you standing stronger. I’m not saying wallow for days on end – that’s just as unhelpful as denying the thoughts and feelings. I’m saying it’s OK to experience these thoughts and feelings in order to understand whatever it is we need to learn and also to be clear about what it is we do want to create. I’ll say that again, when we experience what we don’t want, we can learn from it and create what we do want.
We can gain many insights from allowing ourselves to stand back and notice our thoughts and feelings. So asking ourselves, when we are feeling down: why am I feeling down?; from where do these thoughts emanate?; what do I need to learn from this? Giving ourselves permission to feel something means taking back in the driving seat, and not allowing our feelings to control us.
Feel it. Learn from It. And then we can move on. As Susan Jeffries so brilliantly wrote “Feel the fear, and do it anyway”. Feel, learn, and then release.
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