Feelings (woah, woah, woah)

indexThe greatest tyrants of this world are not people.

They are feelings.

Feelings always win. Feelings are relentless.

If the feelings we relate to as negative don’t attach themselves to some action of destruction that you actually execute – of the competition, of your rival, of those we perceive that have hurt, disappointed or threatened us – they wage a war inside and win, because you are now the one trying to hold them back.

They steal your health, your vitality, your joy, your freedom, your life. Can you feel it right now as you read this?

This even happens with “positive” feelings. Joy and love not felt fully fight with us inside as well. We cut off those feelings all the time, fearful of feeling too good. Our fear of being hurt (again) comes up and often cuts them off. They want to happen, too. Can you feel the cut short love, joy and happiness inside of you?

You must be a worthy companion of your feelings and the feelings of others. They just want to be felt fully. They have a purpose, to flow freely and you can master them, you just need to be aware of their primary purpose and facilitate it. You absolutely do not need to attach any actions that hurt others to facilitate feelings. You just need to let them express themselves all the way to their end.

This is worth spending as much time and practice on as possible. Journal, put it into your workouts, vent to a trusted partner, scream into the pillow, break something you can afford to break, have a good cry, doodle the feelings, purposely put yourself in front of art that has you feel things. And understand that this is what other people need too and just let them have their feelings more often without correction. Try to keep from making agreements and taking words too seriously that are coming from emotion. Try to keep from fixing the person because you are uncomfortable with the feeling they are having. Try to keep from judging the person by the feeling. Their tyrants are running the show and will not be stopped! If they finish, the person will probably come back pretty soon

You Are Not Your Behavior (and neither is he/she)

I don’t remember where I first heard that, but when I did it started a powerful process of forgiveness and understanding that is still ongoing. At a certain point, when we are ready, we can finally see that the things we did that got us scolded, corrected, that bent others out of shape was not who we were and we ultimately were not being scolded, just our behavior, but neither us or the scolder could likely see that at the time. We can start looking objectively and releasing ourselves to the world from behind our common and habitual behaviors.

Our behavior so often meets others at their behavior. But because we run our lives without this distinction between our behavior and ourselves, we build narrow relationships, whole systems of punishment and ideas of identity that balance on this faulty evaluation.

People become related to and labeled as drug addicts, womanizers, criminals, self-centered, lazy, etc.. The person becomes synonymous with our mental or cognitive illnesses or issues as well. We are not very good at seeing the person behind the behavior, because we don’t want that behavior present in our lives, it makes us uncomfortable or threatens us. The best way to keep it out is to slap the label on and then fight the behavior or avoid it altogether. It’s also the best way to perpetuate the behavior, because that person’s sense of disconnection from others grows. For all of us who got the idea stuck in our heads that we were bad kids, do you remember how that label affected you? How it still might?

We defend our behavior as ourselves. Our parents did when we built up the umbrage to question them on their ways. Do you remember what it was like when you were in full swing of being critical of your parents? How right you were, how uncomfortable it was to see them keep doing or saying that thing? It may still drive you bananas. Their behavior was not them either. More often than not, their love for you met their fear for your safety and well being and that is just rarely a pretty place to come from and so largely misunderstood. The fear comes through most of all and we are impacted on a visceral level. We are either seduced or repulsed by each other’s fear. You have long-standing issues with them or other people in your life, but are you any more willing to disengage from your own behaviors and look objectively at whether they really work for you, your commitments and your relationships?

It’s a rare person who is willing to have their behavior questioned, rarer still to find someone willing to question their own without it being part of some old self-flagellation ritual (the bad kid). No one is really up for looking when it hits a place where the hurt that birthed these behaviors was so bad, so clear to the person either consciously or unconsciously (the hurt and the automatic behavior coming up without us even noticing it). The reaction, defending will always show up loudly and clearly. It takes powerful practice to keep going after self-defense kicks in and just look, without stopping from feeling made wrong or dominated.

See your heart open when you notice your pull to judge someone and you just allow that to pass and try to get present to the person. We’re judging all the time. You can try this on line for coffee, riding the subway, sitting down for a meeting, looking at photos of people you’ve heard of on magazines or the web, when your caller ID pops up and you know who’s calling. All of their behaviors that helped you form this judgment, all of the ways it worked or didn’t work with you and your reactions has us staying at this level of engagement with others, with ourselves. It scuttles the possibility of freedom from behaviors that reinforce pain, fear, disconnection, lack of intimacy, acts of violence. It keeps us chained to fear, to avoiding discomfort and to self-defense.

The stress benefits alone from not getting caught up in judgments and reactions is worth it. Try it and get back to me. It takes practice.

From love,

Hurt is Complicated

There’s the hurt that is happening now and there’s also what we do with the belief called “I am hurt”, which is mainly from the past coming into the present.

What really complicates the process of distinguishing whether we are holding a belief that we are hurt is that this belief comes up most prominently when we are triggered by something happening in the present. We are feeling both the present hurt and the past hurts simultaneously. When we feel something, we think feelings make something exclusively real and much more than a belief. So we may ignore the value of discovering if we have a belief, too, that we can do something about, as well as something that hurts right now. I am hurt is nearly synonymous with I am not safe. It makes sense. In the short term, the safest you can be is to relate to something that hurts as real. You’ll probably fight or flee and get away. When we look at the cumulative impact of what we do with the belief that we are hurt, the illusion of safety disappears.

Many of us who are stuck in the belief that we are hurt, hurt others, often with very little understanding of the impact. When we live with the belief that we are hurt, we may hurt others physically, we may hurt them by withdrawing, we hurt by not being reliable, we hurt by vociferously defending ourselves, we hurt by assuming that others are trying to hurt us and making them wrong, and on…

We may also hurt ourselves by blaming ourselves, not speaking up, holding low opinions of ourselves, accepting a consistent experience of suffering, going along with what we think others want to our own detriment, and on…

Many of those people who are hurting us and who we believe are hurting us, are stuck in the belief called “I am hurt”, too and may be unaware of exactly how they are hurting themselves and others. We’re usually more concerned with feeling hurt, consciously or unconsciously, than taking responsibility for the hurt we may cause. This is both obviously unfortunate and very human. We don’t want this to be true, but sometimes it is where people (and ourselves) are stuck.

I’m not telling you to excuse people and stay in the line of fire. Do not. I’m not telling you to make believe that you’re not in danger if you feel you are. If you are in danger, get out of danger the best you can. It is also not your job to fix someone who has the belief that they are hurt or to talk them out of it. That can be frustrating or dangerous. We all have the tendency to deny or defend our hurt.

I am saying that we could all make use of more compassion, giving it to ourselves and others and receiving compassion, which can be very challenging for those of us who believe we are hurt. Finding our own way out of our belief of hurt is invaluable and challenges us to be both brave and vulnerable. Understanding others’ belief that they are hurt can save us all more hurt. We can see what’s coming and know where it’s coming from and act accordingly.

I choose to work on this in my own life, because I love my family, my clients and myself and honestly, I love everyone (embarrassing, but true). I wanted to live outside of my distortions of feeling hurt that were coming from my past and all of the things I did and said while I was living inside those distortions. Choosing to live outside of “I am hurt” has been a daily challenge which has spurred on a lot of personal growth, success of all sorts and uncovered more and more ways to see how it has affected me, so I can be responsible for it. You don’t need a dramatic story of terrible things that happened in your life to wind up with the belief “I am hurt”.

Like I said, hurt is a complicated topic. There’s very little to take from here and put into use straightway, other than to look at yourself first.  Are you living in the belief “I am hurt”? If you think you are, get supported so you can live outside of it and give it your best effort.