Hold my hand, and let me take you into the brilliancy of your feelings.
Our feelings are our inner compass; our navigation system which mainly consists of two primary feelings, “safe” or “unsafe”. This system is what helps us to go through life from way back when we were little innocent vulnerable children. Safe feels like: good, calm, peaceful, soothing, at easy, comfortable, comforting, happy; it feels like “yes”. On the other hands, unsafe feels like a “no”: uncomfortable, bad, uneasy, anxious, frightened, distressed, or sad. Any time we feel unsafe, our inner compass is on red alert and it does all possible to navigate us out of a situation; to make a different choice and change the direction. It is not telling us to change our thoughts nor even think of reasons why, it is only telling us to change the situation we are in. Most of us are born with healthy navigation systems; a deep inner knowing that we need to feel safe. For example, if as a baby you felt you’d not be safe without your mother in the room, you’d start crying until she comes back or takes you in her arms, so you feel safe again; in other words, all was needed was a change in the “environment” to feel safe again.
In her book “The Brilliance of Your Feelings: You Are The Secret,” author and consciousness teacher Oona Soleil Fergusson explains beautifully how “feelings are not the problem – they are the solution.”
Feelings are pure, like water.
Feelings are pure, like water; there are no bad feelings. As Oona explains, feeling safe or unsafe were originally pure in our system and were based on our senses: touch, smell, hearing, sight, taste and ambiance. Ambiance is our unrecognized sixth sense, which is not connected to our body, though it very much guides us; it is the feeling of whether or not you are in the right place. It’s not a psychic sense; it is a sense that we all have and can further develop just like all the other senses. We also emit this sense of ambiance that others can sense through our presence.
Feelings cannot be hurt. They just are as they are. But emotional pain – is what comes from being in an unsafe place.
So what are emotions?
When we were children we were often made to do things we didn’t like such as, eating something we didn’t want, saying something we didn’t feel, going somewhere we just didn’t want to. In a way – we didn’t always have the option to change our environment to feel safe again. These unsafe feelings became “bad” feelings which caused the pain within us. Think of the times you feel an unsafe ambiance – you start acting not so loving or kind. That’s not because you aren’t a loving and kind person, but because you are put to stay in an environment that is internally unsafe for you, and causes you emotional pain. When we don’t feel safe, we need to protect ourselves.
Emotions are when we think our feelings. Like I already said, feelings are pure, like water, they just are; there are no thoughts, no judgements, no stories, no drama attached to them. Our emotions however are the things that we used as protection, or to make sense of what’s going on, by using thoughts. Thoughts are the learned things at the back of our minds from all past experiences. A feeling with a thought becomes an emotion, which then stays in the emotional body.
If feelings are water, then the tea leaves are the thoughts, and the emotions became the tea we’ll drink.
Just like tea, we can choose our emotions.
Let’s say our partner texts us, “We need to talk tonight.” If this feels safe to us, then all is well and we’ll carry on until tonight. But if it feels unsafe to us, such as uneasy, scary, anxious, worrying etcetera, then we will begin to assign thoughts to it so that we give it meaning. That becomes an emotion. Suppose our thought is “He is again saying almost nothing by text, this is wrong and annoying!” – then we are creating the emotions of anger and resentment. Suppose our thought is “I wish I didn’t have to wait until tonight to talk to him, this is so hard without him during the day” – then we are creating the emotion of sadness. Suppose our thought is “I want to go and be with him now and make sure he is okay!” – this is love. “Oh no, what are we going to talk about? This is horrible …” – this is fear. “Oh no, what if something has happened to him?” – this is worry and anxiety. “Oh crap, did I mess up something at home? Did I forget to take out the trash? It’s my fault.” – this is shame. “Ah, what if he is preparing a romantic dinner? Wow, what if he proposes!” – this is excitement.
Notice how for the same situation, a different thought creates a different emotion. What these thoughts are, or how easy they’d come into our minds, or the priority in which they’d pop up, that’s a different story. Our habitual thoughts based on learned things, early childhood conditioning and and past experiences, become our narratives and our stories; they become the archives in our mind, and we start to associate certain feelings with them. And then it becomes a whole drama movie in the head. It is important to be aware of these mind stories, so that we more clearly understand ourselves. Anything in life carries only the meaning we assign to it based on our own assumptions, perspectives and past experiences. But we can always change these stories. Thoughts are our own choices too.
Imagine you want to drink strawberry leaf tea; you’d have to make it with strawberry leaves. It might sound hard to just “choose our thoughts” so how about this – certain songs, certain movies make us feel a certain way, right? We’ve listened to them during specific times of our lives and they carry their own prints in our minds; we associate each with a certain memory. And each memory has its subconscious thought pattern that plays in our minds. We can open doors to enter feelings, emotions and thoughts through many things in life such as sound, taste, smell, sight and touch. And then you can do some reverse engineering with that; if we want strawberry tea, let’s look for strawberry leaves. Or – we just change our thought patterns, which of course takes time and a lot of sustained amount of effort but it is worth it. Being mindful of what comes up in our minds and how the feeling-thought-emotion process works is the awareness needed for our mind-mastering to begin.
The good thing about naming emotions when they arise is that as soon as we name something we define it, like a box or a shape, and then we can walk around it and examine it – to understand it and of what thought it was born. This is important but we must also remember that just because we defined it one way today, it doesn’t mean we can’t define it in another way later on. The point is just to bring into awareness the various sides of ourselves and have compassion for them, hold space for them, accept them and integrate them in a healthy way.
There are no bad emotions. Each one is valuable and purposeful, but we just need healthy ways of channeling them. We as humans in these physical bodies have the incredible opportunity to experience ourselves through the depth of our emotions.
Let’s look at anger. This is a very powerful emotion. It can be our motivator and even win us a fight in the boxing ring. It can be the reason why we go to the gym, or achieving a goal. It is the spark that we can use to start something that we were taking too long before to start. It can be the spark of someone who has held on to pain for too long – and now, this anger will release the pain and we’ll move on. It can also a signal that someone has been crossing our boundaries or taking advantage of us – and we now need to address this and/or move away from that person completely. It can be a sign that we need unheard and can reflect on how we can express ourselves better. It can also signal a lack of equivalent energetic exchange; for example, we’ve giving too much to someone but they never give much in return – and as such can offer great insights into how to stop draining our own energy and learn interexchange. It is also, however very harmful if we instead focus that energy on lashing out at someone; it can be destructive. Allow yourself the freedom to feel but understand what the messages are.
There is nothing wrong with crying, with feeling angry, shame and even afraid. If we are truly tuned into it, it actually feels good – crying feels good. We can’t always be so introspective and go into a downward spiral neither; sometimes bad things happen and bad people come along – nothing wrong with you – they have taken your power away, now it’s time for you to take it back.
The only thing wrong with having intense emotions is the associated guilt for having them. Say this to yourself – they are your emotions and your feelings – and no person nor force nor even you may deny them nor make yourself feel ashamed of feeling them. There is nothing wrong with still processing experiences of the past. Let it out whatever it is that needs to be let out – and then sit in stillness with this emptiness before looking outside to fill it in. We need to be able to feel and work through our emotions because otherwise we suppress them, oppress them, project them, and it all leads to many problems, including our physical health as well.
The way to heal our emotions is actually pretty simple: we find the opposite of it: for shame it is honour, for anger it is courage, for fear it is compassion, for betrayal it is loyalty, for abandonment it is commitment.
Now, let’s move on to how to feel our feelings.
Simple Steps: How to feel our feelings:
1. Something arises, maybe unpleasant.
2. Your mind starts rationalizing or taking out past experiences from the dusty archives, making up a whole new monster of the story and programming you’ve had. Your mind launches whatever inner story accompanies this feeling from past experiences and old wounds and comes up with its corresponding rational, “I’m unlovable, I’m a failure, there is something wrong with me, I’m unworthy, I’m an idiot”. This is where you STOP because you are thinking your feelings, not feeling them.
3. Redirect your mind away from these thoughts and into the sensations in your body. Mentally name the sensations: How does this feel in my body, where do I feel this in my body? For example, my chest feels tight, my stomach is in a knot.
4. Breathe into the feeling/sensation and allow it to freedom to experience itself, for example cry of you need to.
5. Your mind will resist this as the mind always resists everything that is new to its previous known behaviour because it has no list in the archive to match it. It’s just its self-defense mechanism. Your mind will try to go back into thought-story-mode. When this happens, redirect your awareness back into your body.
6. Breathe deeply and keep feeling into your body. Let this exist and trust that it will leave – because it will leave, just like water, because feelings are water. Observe it changing, watch it move. Hey, you made it!
One little tip, if you want to lead someone into feeling versus emotion, is for example by asking them: “What does anger/fear/sadness feel like? What does it look like? Do you still feel okay?” And often people will feel more empowered because they will realize it is still okay. And the best and only thing we can do, is just stay next to them and allow them to go through it. As we develop our physical and emotional capacity to feel emotions, we will also be more allowing of others; to hold that space for them to feel theirs too. And then we will be their shoulder and the pillar – not the pity or the “oh, it’s okay, get over it, stop crying”.
One of the best things for any parent to do is lead their children through feeling their feelings. I once watched a video where a toddler just kept on crying and his father kept holding him in his arms. The toddler cried even more loudly, started screaming and kicking. The father kept holding him in his arms, continously, turning him around his shoulders throughout the child’s kicking as if moving an energy wand, as gently as you can imagine. This continued for over thirty minutes. The father never let him go from his arms, from his gentle hold, and he never said a word, nor made a face. The baby boy finally relaxed on his own, and settled into his father’s arms. This boy will grow up to be a man who knows how to navigate through his feelings and emotions; he’d know it comes and go, he’d know there’s no criticism in it, he knows he’ll be okay with whatever he is feeling. I understand that this is an incredibly difficult to do as a parent, ear drums bursting and own emotions are on max, but whenever you can, whenever we all can, regardless of our age, may we remember to just allow those close to us to feel as they need to.
Now, let’s look at something else. Here is a misunderstood statement which can lead to toxic and irresponsible behaviours: “I am not responsible for how you feel.”
While we are only in control of our reactions and are responsible for our own energy, this statement does not imply that we hurt or harm someone by our words and actions. While we are not responsible for how someone else interpreted our statements and how it triggered them, we are responsible for being compassionate and not harming someone. Being honest in our conversations and staying in our truths, is not the same as lashing our or hurting someone and then saying, “Well, I was just honest”. No – you were being hurtful to someone. We need to have compassion. Compassion is not pity – but it is being able to feel the other person’s pain in the mutual exchange and try to understand their perspective, in addition to our own role if we contributed to that situation. When we cause someone harm by our actions – we are very much responsible for that and how they felt. Don’t look away. See how you are affecting another with your words and feelings. And see how they are feeling.
It’s also important to understand how men and women differ in their communication. Feminine energy in its essence is receptive and so, it draws in to itself. Masculine is the go-getter. This is usually also the problem of communication between the two energies. The feminine when she speaks, she says what she doesn’t want, which to the man may seem negative because men when speaking focus on what they do want. But this is just how it is supposed to be – the point for us just to understand it and respect it. This is also the problem why many women have trouble saying “no”; because this modern world is full of masculine gurus who are saying “focus on what you want, go after it, fight for it” – but for the feminine energy, this is a perversion of its purity since it is about drawing in and receiving all that she already possesses within herself. Women have become out of balance in their core self, suppressing the very nature that they are. Modern feminism, which isn’t even real feminism, has become the very tool ruining our relationships, by repressing the feminine energy and as such, the masculine energy is also imbalanced. It is extremely stressful when women have to live like a man and vice versa. Not only are we beginning to harm our root and sacral chakra, which then suppresses our creative energy and attractiveness, but we harm our physical health also.
Our feelings are beautiful, just as our emotional world is beautiful. This is what makes us creative. This is what makes us human and humane. This is what allows us to have empathy, because without our capacity to feel into others, we’d be narcissists, sociopaths and/or psychopaths. Building a beautiful relationship with our feelings is just like any other relationship; it is about acceptance, appreciation and willingness to flow. Healthy relationships are based on emotional intelligence, which is about awareness and vulnerability, which is what true love and deep intimacy are based upon. Allow yourself to experience, and be grateful for, the brilliancy of your feelings; it is how you are capable of loving, of connecting and how you experience yourself wholebodily and wholeheartedly.
With love and peace,
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Cover Art by Margarete Petersen.