By: Edward-Yemil Rosario
I promise! After today no more about feelings! * * *
Angels with Dirty Faces
It’s scary as hell to make our self be known, the parts that are unlovable, the parts we don’t love, that no one else will love, that are just too messy, that are unworthy. Yet we’re dying inside to be completely loved and received and forgiven.
— Jennifer Garcia
I operate under the assumption that almost everything we have been taught to believe about happiness (finding and maintaining it) is inaccurate, misleading, and false. Furthermore, I submit those very beliefs are making us miserable. My challenge is thus: what if you discovered that your efforts to find happiness were actually preventing you from achieving it? What if almost everyone you knew turned out to be in the same boat — including all the “experts” and self-help gurus who claim to have answers?
In part, this series on feelings is my answer to that challenge…
Recap time, girls and boys! First, I articulated the ways feelings are different from emotions. Feelings are based in the body (waves of energy) that we experience. Emotions are the stories we attach to these waves: “I am angry,” “She makes me sad,” etc. So, there was this discussion around feelings and emotions and what happens if we practice experiencing the waves as they are, rather than attaching the stories (what I call “personal novellas” — soap operas). Next, I discussed how being fully present with feelings acts as a liberating force from the drama of our lives. I consider this something of a miracle, or at least an awakening.
There is an awakening, or miracle: the realization that our feelings are our children. As with real children, some are well behaved, clean, polite, and socially acceptable. Others are diablitos — little monsters. The issue here is we tend to nurture the children we find “acceptable,” give them food, dress them really nice, and pose them for the family Christmas card, and trot them out when our neighbors come to visit.
The ones we don’t like, those we deem unacceptable, we push out into the yard, into the doghouse, with no nourishment and barely protected against the elements, in the cold. Occasionally, we might see them, their dirty and hungry faces pressed against the windows, the early stages of malicious intent reflected in their haunted eyes. Sometimes there is a mutiny and a few of them break in through the windows. Or we might let a pleasant feeling out to play and a few of the juvenile delinquent feelings rush in uninvited. Our abandoned feelings haunt our dreams and make horrible noises in the night. One thing is for sure: they will completely sabotage our every attempt to look good or socially acceptable to the neighbors.
This is true no matter how hard you fight. The more fences and barbed wire you erect, the more they will plan schemes to disrupt your neat little life.
Once we begin to awaken to who we really are, into our natural state, we find that we are no longer threatened by our feelings and we slowly begin to invite our abandoned children back inside. This is a slow, gradual process, as you open the door of your heart to your exiled children, one by one.
Invite Grief inside and sooner or later, you are sitting down to dinner with Anger, having a “Blockbuster night,” enjoying yourselves. “I’m sorry,” you say. “This was a misunderstanding. I realize now you are my child. I gave birth to you. Come inside, sit by the fire, and have something to eat. Look. Your bed is right over there and you can stay here.”
Initially, your abandoned, bleary-eyed children will not believe what’s going on. Hey! They might even be a little bit pissed off, burning holes in the couch and insulting people on the phone.
They will need reassurance. You assure them that they can stay forever, as long as they want. We might say to Anger, “I’m sorry I pushed you away, and I’m really sorry that my father did before me, and my grandfather before that. I’m sorry my entire culture has made you feel that you don’t belong. But now, you are welcome, come on in.”
As soon as you welcome the banished, they are transformed. This is a lesson almost every parent knows. I learned it with my own son. It seemed that as a young boy whenever I was busy with work, or on the phone, my son would suddenly decide he wanted me to get him something or to play with him. If I pushed him away, he would become more demanding. But then I learned that if brought him close to me, his apparently (to him) desperate need would quickly disappear. His real longing was for attention, and once that need was fulfilled, all else receded to the background.
And so it is with “emotions.” When we are fully present with them as they arise, and draw them close to us when they seek our attention, their agenda is upset, and the cycle of drama is thwarted. Here’s an even better (or at least more concise) recap on this series on feelings:
They are embraced
They pass again
… And we are free o be spacious and empty, and to be available to life and connected to the world.
Evolving people embrace this process over and over again. It is an awakening and it is our birthright. The miracle is that by welcoming feelings, we can transform them. For example, Anger, when welcomed, embraced, given a good meal, and clean clothes becomes authority and power. Sexual desire, when all moral charges are dropped and the fingers of accusation have stopped wagging, becomes our basic life energy; our chi. A friendly relationship with Grief lets us uncover our depth, our profundity, the very core of our selves. Fear reveals excitement and energy, Boredom uncovers our desire for meaning. By consciously dropping the personal novella — dropping the drama and returning to pure feeling — we discover a great truth: there is no such thing as negative energy. Even the most catastrophic emotional tsunamis, abandoned for lifetimes, which seem capable of destroying us and other people, are transformed when accepted and given as gifts.
Let me use anger as an example. At first, I was a little hesitant to let anger out of its cage. I was afraid of what might happen. But this was when I was confusing feeling with reactivity. Anger thrown onto another person without first being deeply felt (embraced) can have disastrous consequences. I am learning, with practice, to breathe deeply into the belly and allow it to be just as it is; I am learning that I can experiment with anger, a little bit at a time. Once I felt the raw, savage beauty of anger, I felt a deeper connection to the earth; my body opened and came to life. I learned and experienced that I could feel my anger repeatedly, each time more deeply. The more I allowed it, the deeper the anger took me into myself. Now it can be given as a gift to others and myself. The gift of authority, of waking up, of integrity, of speaking truth to power in the face of social injustice.
When Anger is felt and given, free of resistance, it can be received by others as a gift, as a blessing.
When I experience anger in this way, I am truly conscious when I am pissed off. There’s no “personal novella.” It happens
And then it’s finished, and then I’m back. I give myself permission to get pissed, I ride that wave of anger, and then it becomes a gift for whomever I’m pissed at. Once we become willing to disengage the feeling from the drama, there is an immediate liberation. Without a story, of victimhood or a wound (sometimes we become our wounds), there is nothing left to defend, nothing to resist, and we are liberated from the addictive bitterness or niceness as a response to all that we have repressed.
Unfiltered love can be ferocious, it can be deeply honest, and it can be a gift in a million different flavors. When we feel fully, and free ourselves of the shadows of our past, every feeling fully felt, without resistance and freely given, then we express true love. Anything else is just candy.
I hope those who have read this have found something useful in these three different posts on feelings. I hope that it may have somehow touched something within you to question the everyday, knee-jerk, manner we are conditioned to respond to feelings. If we become like an ocean, then a wave is merely a ripple on the surface of things. If we choose to remain stuck to a narrowly defined sense of self, then our emotional lives will be forever doomed to resemble natural catastrophes.