A defining characteristic of being human is feeling LOTS of feelings.
And some of them are not very comfortable…
So we judge them as ‘bad’ and do everything we can to shut them down or make them go away.
We eat, binge on series, scroll on our phones, disappear into social media, work too hard, drink too much, fight with our partner, hyper-focus on our kids…
Any way we can find to check out of our body and get away from the feelings we judge to be ‘bad’.
About 85% of my work as a therapist and healer is helping people allow themselves to have the feelings they are having in relation to what is happening in their lives.
You lost all your money?
You are terrified about what’s happening with your child?
You are frustrated with your job?
Your partner cheated?
You just got a scary diagnosis?
You feel you have no purpose?
Yup. These things come with a whole LOT of feelings.
And they’re uncomfortable.
But they are not ‘bad’.
No feeling is ‘bad’. Feelings are just information from your deepest, dearest self.
They are guidance about which direction to turn – in your thoughts and your actions.
Believe me, you don’t want to make them go away.
You want to allow them, lean into them so that you can receive their wisdom and use that information to decide on which choice is the next best step for you.
I’ve written lots on this in my new book, which I can’t wait to share with you.
For now, I’ll keep explaining more about how to do this in my weekly letter.
We’ll take this one step at a time, ok?
For now we start with this idea that your feelings are not ‘bad’ – no matter how uncomfortable they might be.
I want to share this magnificent piece by Pema Chodron from her book ‘When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times’.
I think it might help.
“We think that if we just meditated enough or jogged enough or ate perfect food, everything would be perfect.
But from the point of view of someone who is awake, that’s death.
Seeking security or perfection, rejoicing in feeling confirmed and whole, self-contained and comfortable, is some kind of death.
It doesn’t have any fresh air.
There’s no room for something to come in and interrupt all that.
We are killing the moment by controlling our experience.
Doing this is setting ourselves up for failure, because sooner or later, we’re going to have an experience we can’t control: our house is going to burn down, someone we love is going to die, we’re going to find out we have cancer, a brick is going to fall out of the sky and hit us on the head, somebody’s going to spill tomato juice all over our white suit, or we’re going to arrive at our favorite restaurant and discover that no one ordered produce and seven hundred people are coming for lunch.
The essence of life is that it’s challenging.
Sometimes it is sweet, and sometimes it is bitter. Sometimes your body tenses, and sometimes it relaxes or opens. Sometimes you have a headache, and sometimes you feel 100 percent healthy.
From an awakened perspective, trying to tie up all the loose ends and finally get it together is death, because it involves rejecting a lot of your basic experience.
There is something aggressive about that approach to life, trying to flatten out all the rough spots and imperfections into a nice smooth ride.
To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.
To live fully is to be always in no-man’s-land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh.
To live is to be willing to die over and over again.
From the awakened point of view, that’s life. . . .
The way to dissolve our resistance to life is to meet it face to face.
When we feel resentment because the room is too hot, we could meet the heat and feel its fieriness and its heaviness. When we feel resentment because the room is too cold, we could meet the cold and feel its iciness and its bite. When we want to complain about the rain, we could feel its wetness instead. When we worry because the wind is shaking our windows, we could meet the wind and hear its sound.
Cutting our expectations for a cure is a gift we can give ourselves.
There is no cure for hot and cold. They will go on forever.
After we have died, the ebb and flow will still continue. Like the tides of the sea, like day and night — this is the nature of things.