Feel it – Deal it – Heal it
The Fertile Way is a path through Life filled with color, abundance, love and aliveness – it is rich and delicious, beautiful and deeply nourishing. It is a path that is available to anyone who chooses to walk it, no matter your age or your gender.
The Fertile Path is paved with feelings. A hugely important skill to learn if you want to take that path is thus to feel your feelings. That sounds so obvious, yet most of us are highly effective at doing everything we can to AVOID feeling our feelings. We eat, we don’t eat, we obsess about food or our body , we drink, we work, we exercise, we watch TV, we socialize… in other words, we keep ourselves busy, distracted and numb. This is because allowing yourself to fully feel your feelings can be scary. Feelings are often not comfortable. They might bring to the surface unhealed wounds from the past, show you very clearly where you are not meeting your needs, confront you with what is and is not working for you, and make you aware in what way you might actually have to change your life or habits. However, you will be fascinated by what you can find if you overcome the fear of discomfort and allow yourself to actually feel your feelings and not distract yourself from them.
The first step is to accept your feelings as real rather than rejecting them or trying to talk yourself out of them, even if “rationally” they do not make sense and you think you “should” not feel that way. If you experience a feeling, apparently some part of you does feel it, so it does not make sense to deny that. Accepting does not equal approving, liking or having to act upon, it simply means owning what IS. For example, if you feel jealous even though you know there is no reason to, the “not wanting to feel that way” does not change the fact that you do have that feeling in this moment. Trying to disown that part of yourself does not make it disappear, but only pushes it into your unconscious, from where it runs the show out of your conscious control. Instead, get curious and explore what need, desire or pain is behind the feeling, where it comes from, which version of yourself feels it (I find it is often the Inner Child in need of some healing from past events), what wants to come out to finally be seen and released. Allow that part of you to fully express itself to you, without judgment nor restriction (but without acting upon it towards others at that stage either). Enter a dialogue and attend to the need or own the desire.
The process of feeling your feelings requires spaciousness and stillness. You cannot feel much when you are running around like a chicken without a head. When you are obsessing about food or exercising. When you are working or studying non-stop. When you are operating from your head. Slowing down is required. Deep breathing is required. Getting into the body is required. This is why slowing down is actually so hard to do – because it makes you feel more – and this can be anything but comfortable. Yet it is the only way to actually prevent feelings from getting stuck in your body – and/or to get old stuck emotions out once and for all. As long as they stay inside, they continue operating in the dark, attracting more of the same patterns into your life. So be grateful for every situation that triggers you, because it is a chance to finally “feel it, deal it and heal it”.
It is fascinating what you can find if you allow yourself to actually FEEL your feelings and not distract yourself from them. Personally my first emotional reaction is often some kind of anger or irritation. It actually is a huge driving force in my life and even though it can be destructive at times, it is also a very creative force. Anger about injustices or about the current state of health of our planet and of our society makes me want to step out there to try to help and foster change. Anger shows me when my boundaries are not being respected or when I actually need to put them into place. Some years ago someone told me that anger is often suppressed sadness or grief, but I had not dug deep enough yet to be able to see that in me. I hardly ever felt sad or cried… But over the last months I have completely changed my way of interacting with my feelings and I have indeed found that – more often than not – there is in fact a lot of emotional pain behind my anger – or the fear of such pain. The anger simply comes in as a defense mechanism.
The more I observe myself and allow myself to deeply experience my feelings, the more I find that in most cases I am not really being attacked, but it is rather an “old” body of pain being triggered by my INTERPRETATION of the current events. It is as if there was an emotional filter still installed that colors everything that happens in a certain (often negative) way and makes me take things much more personal than they actually are. Even if there is a legitimate reason to be angry, this filter often magnifies the emotional reaction in a disproportionate way, making it seem exaggerated at times. But of course, it makes perfect sense, because only a small part of the anger is actually related to the current situation or circumstances, the rest is due to reactivated old hurts that have little to do with what is currently going on.
By now I am able to see this pattern in action and am mostly able to not react to it (= get defensive or lash out). Reacting when at the height of my anger is usually not a good idea, because it would make me say or do things I might regret later. Instead I withdraw from the situation at hand and first allow my anger to express itself to me fully through journaling, movement, sounding, crying …I stay with it until I am able to look beyond it – until I can feel the pain that it is trying to protect me from. Only then can I actually respond to the real emotional necessity behind it. Just like with my anger, I can turn to the part of me that feels hurt or scared and allow it to express itself to me fully. While doing this I am surprised how often I can FEEL that it is not my adult self who is suffering, but a younger version of myself who is reliving some past event and finally crying the tears that had not been cried back then. I can then do my best to attend to and mother my inner child – or maybe get that kind of support from a third person. By taking care of my feelings in this way, the process of emotional cleansing and integration happens quickly and effectively.
Once all this is done, I can choose if and in what way I still want to respond to the person or situation that triggered the emotional reaction in the first place. Often I might find that there is no necessity anymore or – if the behavior was truly inadequate or insensitive – it might suffice to affirm calmly how this behavior affected me and how I would want to be treated in the future. I have even ended up thanking people for having triggered me, because this allowed me to engage in deep healing as a consequence. If we keep our heart open to our feelings, we also keep our heart open to compassion, forgiveness and love – for the other and for ourselves – in the past and in the present. Instead of accumulating more negative feelings and reinforcing destructive patterns, we actually release (part of) them – creating space for fresh, new, more fertile and fertilizing experiences.