Thursday, July 29, 2010

Why do we find it so difficult to feel certain feelings?

It is not enough to think about feelings. It is essential to feel them so as to gain the ability to feel. Feelings are our humanity ~ Arthur Janov

Why do we find it so difficult to feel certain feelings? We hang onto the “good” ones for dear life and avoid the “bad” ones for dear life!! Neither approach creates ease and flow, the first creates stagnation and the latter, blockages. When we feel good, others usually don't have an issue with it, but if we feel less than good, others can find it hard to handle and we can feel judged or criticised. We think this is about us because of our baggage, but most likely they are being triggered by our feelings, usually because they have disowned those very feelings. We, on the other hand are triggered by their judgements and criticisms and feel bad and wrong for feeling the way we do, which most likely is a pattern that we keep repeating. We will try and distance our self from feelings that feel bad and uncomfortable and feelings that seem to invite criticism from others. What this adds up to is a denial of our humanity and our ability and gift to be able to feel anything and everything.

If, when we were young, certain feelings were not accepted, criticised and shamed, we will suppress them, we will do anything to feel safe within our family so as not to feel/be rejected or abandoned. Many of us carry these fears of feeling certain feelings into adulthood, associating them with the danger of not being loved, accepted or safe. We will find it really hard, if not impossible, to give a voice to these feelings, we'll deny them, bury them, avoid them, distract our self from them, do whatever we have to do to not feel them. But life won't let us get away with this, we'll eventually be called upon to make our true feelings known, even if only to our self. If we refuse to feel our feelings, our bodies will do the talking and feeling for us, our bodies never lie. That unfelt energy has to go somewhere and it's our bodies who usually take it on for us. Without the priceless feedback from our emotions and feelings we would find it very difficult to navigate through life. We wouldn't be able to feel touched by beautiful music and we wouldn't fear going near the edge of a cliff. Feelings give our life meaning and context, how could we attribute meaning to anything without being able to feel?

In his book Ageless Body Timeless Mind, Deepak Chopra describes hurt “as the most basic negative feeling”. He goes on to say that:
Coming to the moment by putting your attention on the pain allows you to release the pain as soon as it occurs. This release occurs naturally- it is what the body wants to do- and attention is the healing power that triggers it. Putting attention on your feelings gets you closer to the state of witnessing; you observe the pain without getting wrapped up in all the secondary blame, avoidance, and denial that usually follows. As you learn to say, "I feel hurt", and really be with that feeling, more openness will develop. the emotions that frighten us are the complex ones, because they overwhelm the natural release mechanism. You cannot simply release guilt or depression. They are secondary formations that arose once you forgot how to release hurt. The more hurt you honestly feel, the more comfortable you will be with pain, because the ability to release it will grow. As this happens, you will feel easier about all your other emotions. (To a blocked mind, feeling 'positive' emotions such as love and trust is often just as difficult as feeling 'negative' emotions such as hate and distrust. Both are elauded by old unresolved hurts). Feeling easy with your emotions means that you won't get entangled in other people's. 

Another fantastic read on the subject of feelings is, Biology of Love, by Arthur Janov, he writes:
Ideas cannot change feelings. Only feelings can. This seemingly simple notion has profound implications. For if we are trying to regain our humanity, we need to regain our feelings; and we cannot do that through the mode of ideas alone. To regain feeling one must fully experience all the hurt blocking it, and bring the pain to conscious awareness. Then an "idea" can make changes, when it flows out of feelings. Conscious awareness strips the unconscious of its power to direct behaviour. Ideas and feelings reside in different places in the brain. We must not try to make one level do the work of another level. We must not attempt to use ideas to replace feelings. The feeling of feeling involves specific structures in the brain such as the hippocampus and amygdala. Ideas about those feelings are processed in the top-level cortex, specifically the left hemisphere, forward part of the brain. If we use the frontal cortex alone to feel, we are in trouble. The most we can expect is a crying "about", an adult looking back at childhood, instead of a child actually feeling her hurts.

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