We have each developed patterns of behaviour in order to ensure our feeling of belonging. Rejection is what we fear the most, but we compromise ourselves a lot in order to avoid this. If we wait for others to validate and define us, we disempower ourselves and lose our sense of who we are. No one can do for us what we need to do for ourselves, for if we struggle to love ourselves, how can anyone else?
The emotional landscape we experienced as children profoundly affected us. We can all remember the emotional ambiance of our homes and the feelings that coursed through us when we were still very vulnerable. As we grew, these emotions grew with us, some draining us, some giving us life. Some feelings we now take as a given for they’ve become entrenched in us as adults. We have come to see ourselves through these emotions and may say now for example, ‘This is me. I am anxious, fearful, discontent,’ thereby identifying with our emotional self. Some of these dominant feelings give us a hard time so we may try to reject, suppress or get rid of them, but this only gives us further distress. When we define ourselves by our feelings and identify our feelings with our identity, we are in a dysfunctional space.
Behind every feeling we have we can trace an assumption we’ve made. If, for example, we feel incapable, the assumption behind this is that we can’t manage. Or if we feel out of control, we may feel that we’re powerless. Most of our assumptions are not true and most of what we fear actually never happens. It is thus very important to test and challenge these assumptions that we’ve created as a surmise around a feeling we’ve had. Our mind has taken on numerous seemingly plausible options, which we hang onto and don’t question. These assumptions then become our beliefs, attitudes and our very lifestyle.
God has given us very accurate feelings, not to judge or punish us, but as messengers which are trying to communicate and connect us with reality. However, too often we don’t stop and ask why we are feeling what we’re feeling. We just try to cope, taking our interpretation for granted and acting on it. Our mind plays with the emotion that we feel through our whole body and asks, ‘Is it enough what you’ve done?’ We may try to create an ante feeling and push against the uncomfortable feeling to get temporary relief. Or we become addicted to our feelings and are always angry or always fearful. But our feelings are trying to say something and will push harder and speak louder and not disappear.
We need to go back to the source and look for the genesis of the feeling, for every thought we had started with an assumption which was encapsulated with meaning the very first time we had the feeling. The struggle in us now is a symptom of what we chose to believe early on. So we get stuck in how we behave. Sometimes though, the source wasn’t even our own and we could be carrying inherited anxiety.
We can’t deny the real events that happened and we shouldn’t try to stop the feelings we carry around these experiences. Feelings need to be dialogued with and felt to be received. The losses we’ve known need to be grieved in order to empower our lives now. It isn’t easy to change our ‘nice’ learnt patterns, but we are responsible for our own transformation which comes when we go back to our origins to heal our programming.
Feelings should not be our tormentors, they should be our friends. If they’re acting like untrained dogs, they will drive us crazy. But we can train them to become very, very helpful messengers.