This is the third of 10 Things to Do in 2012!
“You are allowed to feel! You are allowed!”
I was “giving permission” to a client who was attempting to allow herself to be angry for the first time. She closed her eyes tight, tried to breath, and stay with me. But panic arose.
“What might happen? This feels horrible!”
I asked her to describe how it feels, what images she might be seeing. (I wanted to shed light on it, so it wasn’t quite so dark and scary. When our problems remain in the shadows, they have more power over us. When we shed light on them, allow them, they can come forth, open up, and heal. The power now returned to us.)
She said it was like fist size balls of anger with barbed wires on them right in her chest. ”It feels awful. I don’t want to feel this way.”
You are allowed to feel
There are many reasons we don’t want to feel a feeling, but it usually leads back to guilt and fear. For her, it was both. Guilt that she was not allowed to feel this way which had developed into a fear if she did. She grew up in a culture that put women in their place, and had sustained a violent marriage for many years. Anger would have brought her criticism and abuse. It was not safe.
Here, she was safe. Not only would I not judge, but encourage and allow. I asked her to breath light into it. (A guided meditation, “Day Four: Two Minutes to Peace” if you want to listen. Meditations Download)
I told her it was OK to feel angry. ”It is appropriate for what happened to you.” This is a magic word for some people. ”Appropriate.” They have gone on so long thinking like they were “wrong” for their feelings. Perhaps other people told them they were wrong: “Don’t take it so personally.” ”Just calm down.” ”You need to let it go.” These all contribute to us judging ourselves that our feelings are wrong, or pathological. It is a double whammy. Not only do you feel bad, you have to feel bad, you feel bad.
Thinking that something is wrong with what we feel can cause so many problems in our lives. An unfelt, unresolved feeling, especially one we judge to be pathological can reek havoc on our emotions, our relationships, and our identity. How would our lives be different if we just allowed them?
“If you don’t start a feeling, you cannot take that feeling to an end,” says one of my favorite authors, Geneen Roth.
She is brilliant.
Once they are allowed, we can end them. And this surprisingly does not take long. (Thus the meditation is called “Two Minutes to Peace.”) The stories about the feelings, and what happened- blaming ourselves and blaming others- that fill our head, have us run away from feelings. This is what takes so long. We think a feeling is unbearable yet we are willing to endure years of self torture with stories of blame, fear and guilt cluttering our mind. When we allow ourselves to feel, without the story, just feel, it can go away. Faster than you ever imagine.
After breathing light into it for a couple of minutes, my client said that the ball of anger lightened, and came up into her throat.
“I’m ready to get it out. Let it go.” She said resolutely.
She took the rock I handed her in both her hands and brought it up to her mouth. She camayed (blew the energy of) the feelings out into the rock, very hard from deep in her gut several times. After, sitting back on the couch with her eyes still closed, a peaceful look came over her face. She breathed. She was quiet for a few more minutes, feeling the peace without the anger. Then, she sat up, opened her eyes and smiled.
“That felt so much better than holding it in!”
I smiled. ”You are allow to feel better, too!”