Why is it so very hard for us to be in our feelings? To stay in it when it’s messy and when it doesn’t look like we think it should. It’s like we think we can change it. “If I really, really don’t want it to be like this and I resist it and fight against it with all I’ve got then it will be other than what it is. But I won’t feel this. I won’t!”
When our child hurts himself we often don’t let him be in it, we’ll distract him from what just happened. “Oh poor baby. Here’s a kiss. Hey look over there at that bird! Isn’t it pretty?” Or some other more adult version of that. Why are we so scared of pain? Recently I read this in a wonderful book called The Great Work of Our Life by Stephen Cope “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”
So if pain is inevitable why are we so afraid of it? Why don’t we develop the tools to cope with it? There is an alternative way of dealing with our child’s fall. “Oh poor baby you really scraped your knee. Here let me kiss it. That looks sore. Just cry as much as you need to, it helps get the feelings out. That’s ok. Did you also get a big fright when you fell? Yes? A big fright and a scraped knee. What a thing. Take your time, I’m right here. Just let it all come out.” Or some other more adult version of that. And you just stay with the pain and the shock and let it be. And it passes. You teach your child to just be in it as it is, when it is. Then it can pass and we can let it go.
How is it helping if we distract ourselves from the pain we are in? If we beat ourselves up about it, berate ourselves for being sissies, judge ourselves for being scared and hurt. How is that helpful? But we do it. We do it all the time! My panic about starting the blog was partly because it scared me to feel the old feelings from my past that it was triggering . Oh please let’s stop being afraid of our feelings.
This morning I saw an attractive, highly intelligent woman who is reeling from having her third child, a year ago. She isn’t quite managing to get her head above water. She’s shocked at herself and SO painfully disparaging about how she can’t be as productive and functional as she’s used to being. Oh please just let yourself BE underwater right now, I long to beg her. That’s where the healing lies. I can see she’s being triggered big time about needing to be functional and productive. Normally she uses her super-intelligence and strong will as her main way of being in the world. But right now she’s all wishy-washy. And SO uncomfortable with it.
Oh please just be in it. Open your heart, open your chest and relax into the feeling. Open up to it and let it teach you.
Let it teach you a new way of being in the world. Meet parts of yourself you dismissed as pathetic and see the gifts they actually bring you. She’s much more real, approachable and lovable floundering around like she is than previously when she scared many less hardy folk. Now I can see her having to BE one of the less hardy folk and she ain’t happy! Why not? What hurts is she hiding from? What happened during the time in her life she was less hardy? That would be when she was young and vulnerable – before she learned to protect herself with being scary in a super-intelligent, strong-willed way. None of us are very hardy when facing our parents or teachers. Not emotionally anyway.
So now she’s getting an opportunity (read that ‘being forced’) to engage with the world from that same softened place in herself that she’s tried to pack tightly away. Her baby’s non-stop demands along with her other two children’s needs have brought her back to that wounded place in herself. A place she judges harshly. So she’s panicking and being mean to that young part of herself that has been pushed away into her shadow until now. She’d NEVER be that nasty to her children but somehow it’s ok if she acts that way to herself, to her own inner child? Why?
Another beautiful, intelligent, warm and deeply spiritual mother tells me how she can’t bear her own messiness. “I know how my parents were with me and that was so bad for me. Then I see myself with my daughter doing the same thing and I think ‘What are you doing?’ I can see another way, and it would work, but somehow I won’t do it.”
“Why do you think you won’t do the other way?” I wanted to know
“This one makes me feel in control” she answers
“What does that say about how you feel the rest of the time?”
“Out of control!”
“What does out of control look like?”
“Messy. Totally messy. I hate it, can’t stand it!! Parts of me everywhere. Things all over the place, there’s nowhere to pack things away. Things come in and I can’t pack them away fast enough. I’m supposed to be more together. That’s what I should be like.”
Her child is bringing a part of herself that is messy to her awareness so she tries to shut down her child. Just like so many of us do in those moments when our child brings uncomfortable awareness. But they bring us awareness for our own healing. Isn’t it odd to fight off or shut down your own healing? Just be in it, I say. Be in the mess. Get to know the parts of yourself that are coming to you to be seen. In her messiness is the key to her happiness. She needs to learn how to follow her own truth rather than the ‘shoulds’ and for now her truth part is a bit messy. That’s ok. That’s just where she’s at right now.
If you want to rearrange your closets to serve you better you need to pull everything out and survey what’s there and where you feel things should go. There is a moment in this process where everything is lying around on the floor and you still have a hell of a job ahead of you. That’s often a totally overwhelming moment. But IT JUST IS WHAT IT IS and YOU ARE WHERE YOU ARE. Let yourself be there.
I’ll share a secret with you now.
Inherent in where you are, hidden in amongst the;
- I can’t do this
- I’m pathetic to be overwhelmed by something so small
- I’m not like this
- This isn’t who I am
- What will others say about me
- I can’t let anyone see this mess,
hidden under all that, is deep self-acceptance just waiting to be found.
Just be in it and you’ll see.
What is your child bringing to your awareness right now that you’d rather not see? What are you avoiding feeling?