I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then their is no hurt, but only more love. (Mother Teresa)
Ever had one of those nights? You know the kind where you can’t get to sleep for thinking? Well that was me last night except it wasn’t just mindless thoughts that were keeping me awake but the burning need to get something said.
Something has been brewing in my soul for a long time now, demanding attention, wanting to be articulated; needing to be expressed in some way. Last night I lay in bed tossing and turning and feeling that it was vital, important and urgent that I try to find the right words to express what my soul was asking me to say.
Battling between the need to sleep and the need to get something down on paper I eventually succumbed to the inevitable and got up to scribble a few notes hoping that they would suffice to jog my memory in the morning so that the gist of what I wanted to say would not be lost.
Now the morning is here and I have to find the words.
So here goes.
I want to talk about feelings. The uncomfortable kind. The kind that eat you up inside.
The kind that get stuck in your throat. The kind that rumble and groan and moan inside us.
You know what I’m talking about here: fear; anger; bitterness; frustration; hatred; anxiety; resentment; disappointment.
I’m talking about the kind of emotions that we don’t want to feel and often don’t allow ourselves to feel – at least not fully anyway. Often it’s difficult to sit with even the vaguest of uncomfortable feelings without pushing them away, denying them, minimising them or suppressing them in some way.
WHY IS THIS?
I think it’s because we are scared of letting ourselves FEEL the full impact of these emotions.
I think it’s because these awkward emotions are all distortions of a purer, deeper, truer emotion – SORROW and no matter what we will not let ourselves feel SORROW because it is too painful and too risky.
Deep down we believe that feeling sorrow will break our hearts; that it will shatter them to pieces and scatter them to kingdom come and back. It may even cause us to die.
Because of this we go to great lengths to avoid feeling sorrow.
Here are a few examples from my own life to illustrate the point.
· A friend is feeling distressed. He says that he thinks his life is a waste of time; he’s feeling disillusioned. Instead of letting him feel his pain I rush to reassure him and give him a long list of all the great things he’s got going on in his life.
· While out driving a car pulls out of a junction in front of me and rather than feel my annoyance I shout out a load of verbal abuse at him, pushing my pain away from myself and transferring it onto the other driver without a CARE in the world.
· My husband switches on the TV to get the latest news report and immediately he’s up in arms judging and condemning the evil doers of the world, demanding that the government do something about it and declaring that if they can’t abide by the rules they should all be shot/sent back to their own country/ given a taste of their own medicine etc.
BUT we are misguided in believing that feeling our sorrow will lead to our demise.
Yes if we feel our sorrow our hearts might be broken BUT not into a million pieces they will be broken OPEN and this is vitally important to our health and wellbeing.
When our hearts are open they allow our bodies to function correctly. Our bodies are meant to act as a conduit for the love that is held in our soul. When we harden our hearts in an attempt to protect ourselves from pain, we interfere with this function. An open heart allows our emotions to move through us and the energy of this movement softens them, transforming them into the primary emotion of Love (love being the primary emotion because it reflects our truest nature).
An example of how emotions can be transformed into love this way was seen on the occasion of the death of Diana Princess of Wales. For those of us that allowed our disgust, outrage, anger, hatred and frustration to settle into SORROW we found that deep at the heart of our grief was an enduring compassion, a need to reach out, to connect, to share, to CARE.
Opening our hearts to each other (and this can be through feeling our joy as well as our sorrow) unites us. It breaks through barriers of class, culture, race and religion and yet despite this our culture still perpetuates a myth that caring is dangerous business.
Consider the following sayings.
· Don’t trust your feelings.
· Whatever you do don’t show you care.
· Don’t wear your heart on your sleeve.
· Keep your distance.
· Don’t get too involved.
With this sort of misguided advice we are left to struggle along dragging our hardened hearts along with us.
It’s just sheer madness and it comes with a cost.
We are meant to know the feeling of being filled with love – when this feeling is absent all we feel instead is a void, an emptiness at the centre of our being. We then try to fill this with all manner of things – food, drugs, sex, money, success, power, entertainment (the list is endless).
It could be argued that this emptiness is the root cause of much, if not all, the problems we face in the world.
When we insist on not feeling, on not caring then we become isolated. We risk falling into the belief that we are the only one that matters. We can become immune to the suffering of others and if we are not careful (that is if we are not FULL of CARE) we can even begin to condone suffering, justify it and even inflict it on ourselves and others– all because of our ‘couldn’t CARE LESS attitude!’
SO what can be done about all this?
The only conclusion I’ve managed to reach is that we must relearn the art of feeling.
We must allow ourselves to soften and let the energy of our emotions move through us. We must work to keep our hearts open.
This isn’t going to be easy. It takes courage to care when we fear we will be taken advantage of. We will need help. We will need to be supported. We will need encouragement.
We will meet with resistance. We will risk being called foolish, naive, innocent, simplistic, an idealist.
But I think it’s a risk worth taking.
It’s a risk worth taking because it will help us all feel happier than we’ve ever felt before.
It’s a risk worth taking because it will help us all feel more peaceful.
It’s a risk worth taking because this is how a new world will be born.
Right, I’m about done. I’ve achieved what I set out to achieve. I’ve said what I needed to say. The sleepless night was worth it. My soul is singing.
But now what about you?
If you’ve read this far (and “thank you” if you have) then how are you FEELING now? Perhaps you might like to sit with your feelings a while and see what happens? If you’d like to tell me about your response to this blog then I’d love to hear from you.
The opinions I express here are my own. However I offer them with the word 'syat' next to them. 'Syat' is a word used by the Jain Tribe in India which means 'To the best of my knowledge SO FAR.' In the spirit of openness I invite comments from anyone whether you agree with my point of view or not. In this way we can all learn and grow together. Thank you.