On a given day, you may or may not be aware of what you are feeling. Many of us grew up in homes in which we weren’t allowed to discuss how we felt, we were punished for how we felt, or were not allowed to feel altogether. Of course this would communicate to us that feelings are bad and it’s not safe to feel them. This is not to shame anyone’s parents and upbringings. In homes where this is or was the case, generally the parents involved grew up in similar, if not worse conditions. It’s not typical to grow up being taught that it’s okay to feel… That it’s normal to have a range of feelings and that it’s healthy to be allowed to feel them and express them in a safe and accepting environment.
I think there are a number of reasons, which I’m not really qualified to totally understand or explain, that we want to stuff, hide, or ignore our feelings. I’m sure the fear of not being in control has to do with it…not being able to control how we feel, but also not being able to control how another feels. It seems scarey and perhaps too vulnerable and risky?
But it’s interesting to think about. If you’re curious, stop…even right now, and ask yourself how you are feeling. How are you feeling, right now in this moment?
Is that easy for you? If so, great…it often takes me some time to figure out.
So when it comes to pain in our lives, which IS real, whether we realize it or not…of course we will experience a range of emotions. However, if we’ve grown up in an environment that communicated that our emotions are not okay, our way of dealing with pain may be quite unhelpful. Maybe we shut down…put up a “brick wall” and choose apathy rather than feeling. I was real good at playing the “strong and happy” face, convincing even myself that I had no pain to be felt…I was stronger than that. Maybe we choose self harm, such as cutting, in an attempt to rid ourselves of our pain.
Regardless of our reponses to pain, if we don’t allow ourselves to feel…the long avoided hurt will affect our lives and/or relationships in destructive ways. I know this to be true, all too well. This doesn’t mean we can’t have pain and it all has to be dealt with and gone in order to have healthy lives and relationships. No! That’s not possible. New pain will continue to come and old pain may resurface in new ways…but unaknowledged pain…pain we don’t allow ourselves to feel…that people in our lives shame us for…THIS is what I mean…this hurts us and others close to us in ways we are generally blind to. It affects how we live and see ourselves, see others, treat oursevles, and treat others. I’ll expand on that another time if I can.
So what do we do if we want to begin to finally allow ourselves to feel? I mean…what if we begin to feel the effects of pain that’s been stuffed for years? That sounds a bit scarey or daunting, right? Yep. It’s not something that can be forced. It’s the way to freedom, but it can’t be forced. We can’t shame ourselves into feeling (that would be quite counterprodutive) . But what do we do when we finally do begin to feel it? I’ll share what it’s looked like for me in my next post. It has a lot to do with grace.
Feel free to respond, as always.