Understanding, accepting and trusting your feelings

The following excerpt from Jonice Webb’s book Running on Empty : Overcoming Your Childhood Emotional Neglect may help you if you struggle with emotions.  I know in my own life a lot of problems were caused by not understanding nor fully accepting or trusting my own feelings.   An education in a Catholic school taught me certain emotions were really bad, such as anger.  Ideally in childhood we should be helped to understand and identify our emotions so we can use the information they give us and respond wisely, but if we were emotionally neglected we never got to build these skills.    I hope this excerpt may be of help to others who struggle with understanding and accepting their emotions.

If you were emotionally neglected, chances are you have difficulty with accepting and trusting your feelings.  Some emotionally neglected people are completely unaware of the existence of emotions.  Others push their emotions down because they have a deep seated notion that feelings are bad, will burden other people, or can make them a bad person.  Remember the following three rules:

1.  There is no bad emotion

Emotions themselves are not good or bad, right or wrong, moral or amoral.  Every human being has felt rage, jealousy, hate, destructivenss, and superiority, for example, at one time or another.  Most people have even had homicidal feelings  These feelings are not bad, and do not make us a bad person.  It’s what we do with them that matters.  Do not judge yourself for your feelings.  Judge yourself for your actions.

2.  Feelings do not always make rational sense, but they always exist for a good reason.

Emotions do not follow the principles of logic. They can seem inexplicable and unpredictable.  But every emoiton can be explained if you try hard enough. With every emotion our body is trying to send us a meassage, no matter how bizarre that might seem.  As an example, lets go back to David, the forty something businessman who had zero supervision as a child.  David once shared with me that he occasionally felt an unbearable disgust and repulsion when he saw a random person eating at a restaurant.  He was mystified by this feeling, and worried that it might mean he was crazy.  Eventually, through a lot of exploration of his Emotional Neglect, we figured out the reason : David’s limbic system, unbeknownst to him was equating eating, the taking in of food with nurturance.  David himself took no enjoyment from food.  He had great difficulty letting himself enjoy nutritional nurturance as well as emotional nurturance.  Unconsciously, he felt disgusted when he saw someone letting down their guard, and allowing themselves to enjoy taking in nurturance.  This is an example of a feeling that seems on the surface irrrational and meaningles, but was actualy quite meaningful, and existed for a very good reason.

3.  Emotions can be powerful but they can be managed

Emotions that are hidden tend to have a lot of power over us.  When we are aware of an emotion, we can then take charge of it.  David felt at the mercy of his intense feelings of disgust, and sometimes avoided going to restaurants in order to avoid that feeling.  Once he realised the source of the feeling and didn’t judge himself for having it, he was at a point of full awareness and acceptance.  He started to fight it off, and the feelings of disgust lost its potency.  Eventually it disappeared altogether.

The IAAA Steps

IAAA may sound like a retirement fund but it is not.  IAAA stand for Identify, Accept, Atrribute, Act.  These steps are a culmination of the three rules above.  They are the four steps to maximising the value of our emotions, and gaining energy and guidance from them.  First, Identify the feeling, then Accept it.  Do not judge it as bad or good.  Third, try to discern the reason you are having the feeling, or Attribute it to a cause; fourth, identifty whether there is an Action that the emotion calls for and, if so, take it appropriately.

Whar are you feeling right now?  Close your eyes and ask yourself that question.  If the answer is ‘overwhelmed” don’t despair.  The process of making friends with your emotions may seem complicated, or even insurmountable, but you can do it.  Yes, it will take time.  But if you keep working at it, you will start to notice small changes in yourself.  The changes may be subtle and may at first seem unimportant.  But each time you have an emotional realisation that’s new to you  its a sign that you are growing and learning.  If you find yorself struggling too much, or on the verge of giving up, look for a therapist to help you.  A skilled therapist will be able to help you to build these skills, so that you can become fully connected, present and alive.

A growing connection with my Mum

I am experiencing a growing connection with my Mum.  I am coming to understand and accept deeply that she could only give a very limited type of parenting due to her own emotional deficits from childhood and I am seeing the very loving kind side of her that worries and tries her very best to compensate for the deep loss of our upbringing. I am becoming more and more aware that she acted out a wound unconsciously and am coming to understand that it is actually part of my spiritual journey to be dealing with this healing.   I cry a lot when I see how sad it is to be carrying all of these wounds.  I know the anger I have felt at not having a lot of it validated in the family is legitimate and real.  I am seeing what a struggle I have had to separate.  I am not attacking or blaming myself as much.  I am seeing how I can turn myself inside out for approval at times when really the approval and validation I feel needs to come from inside.  So all in all I am feeling so much freer than I have done in the past.

When the connection between my Mum and me is loving I find a great degree of peace.   I was able to open up about somethings with her yesterday that really were bugging me from within and she was very warm, comforting and validating with me.  I see that the rejecting or isolated mother of the past is not necessarily the mother I have today.  I am also seeing how important it is that I have learned the emotional lesson that I need to look for that mothering in more positive places where I am received when I meet brick walls with my Mum.

I am so grateful for several of those bloggers here, too who have been so supportive of me in the past week when I faced some really tough stuff from the past.  I know that the pain of losses and emptiness that I endured in past years was excruitiating.   I watched a very disturbing movie on a woman who killed her boyfriend by a lethal overdose here in my home town last night and it brought back to me the darkest days of my addiction which spanned the years 1989 – 1993 when I got sober.  I see how much my life has changed and just how far I have come since then.  Although I can have sad days and pain there is not that terrible inexplicable blanket of extreme menacing darkness and agony that used to cover me like a shroud in those years when I was so empty and lost.  I am coming into the light.

I am glad to be feeling this way as I head towards the 24th anniversary of my sobriety in about 6 weeks time.  I have a lot of warm memories from that time when I got to AA after having only been marrried a few months.  It was a rock bottom but I had the support then of a loving husband.  My marriage was not to last in sobriety, sadly but I will always be glad of those first happy years where I finally put down alcohol and drugs and then cigarettes and was able to embark on a path of recovery.  It was a long journey, is a long journey and we just need to keep fronting up and knowing we can face the pain that inevitabley comes as we work to become more conscious and aware.

I am finding it easier to present for myself in a loving way these days.  I still go through self attacks but I am becoming more aware of when my voracious critic (who my therapist and I call Mr A) is on the scene.  I am aware that a critic attack is often like a shame attack or emotional flashback.  Mr A sees things in terms of black and white and doesnt cope with mess or frustration very well but these days I can give him more of a hug or at least get him to calm down a little bit.

Anyway I am very grateful today.  I am aware of just how much beauty there is in my life lately.  I have been finding it easier to reach out to my sister who has dealt with her own mental health challenges in very different ways to me.  I see how I can now relate to her from an adult side and less from the pain of my inner child who felt neglected emotionally by her older sister in childhood.  I can make that separation today. because I have been able to acknowledge and work through difficult things from the past that hurt with someone and be validated.

I know without a doubt that there is emotional freedom on the side of feeling all of that emotional pain and the gift at the end is a reawakening to my True Self who often felt she had to hide.  There is understanding that comes when we can finally fully feel and acknowledge the darkness and bring it to light.  For that I am so very very grateful.

When anger is denied

Afer sharing a reblog of Twinkletoes post on Anger Turned Inward yesterday I have been thinking a fair bit about the subject.   Anger turned inward ties into issues of feeling unsafe expressing strong feelings, feeling powerless, frustrated, neglected and ignored when we really needed help and validation.  There is a deep despair and grief that we are left with when we are not responded to with empathy or helped to be effective with expressing our wants, needs and frustrations as children.  If we have no where to go with these feelings we often repress them or they fall to the level of our body.

If we were raised in a far older family we may have been left alone or ignored all the time. We may have been on the receiving end of bullying which is projected shame and may be due to the frustration of older siblings who were left alone to take care of us in the absence of parents or carried their own pain due to lack of emotional receptivity and nurture, we are then on the end of the projection of that siblings pain as well that gets dumped into us, and if we can’t express that to anyone its a set up for a host of later painful feelings of emotional isolation and depression

Some of us like my fellow blogger and I were sent to our rooms when angry.   I wasn’t locked in mine but I still felt alone there with my ‘big’ feelings I didnt quite know how to manage.  But I also know my Mum had those big feelings too and Dad didnt know how to cope so would go awol, laughing and joking about it (which on one level was better than exploding) however that was a set up for me for a passive aggressive emotional style.

In the passive agressive style we don’t feel safe enough to set boundaries or say no or even allow for the fact we have needs which may differ from others.  We may equate self assertion with abandonment, if we were on the receving end of a lot of aggression when young we may come to fear self assertion believing it can only happen in a way that hurts and we may either fear hurting others or losing their approval.  If we have known the deep pain of feeling abandoned we fear being the one who abandons others and so we can end up putting other’s needs first.

In my own family I didnt see healthy self assertion modelled a lot and being left alone I learned to try to be needless and wantless, after all there was no one there so I was better to lock it all away or deny it.  I think at a young age I learned to escape into books and TV.  I can still do this at times.  I remember in a past relationship if my ex called and a show was on I liked often I would not take his call.  That may or may not be okay, I am not sure but surely connection to a human should be more important than a show.

I have learned a lot through reading. I sometimes think readers of my blog may get a bit frustrated though as I am always blogging about something I have read.  Escape is not always a bad thing, only when it diverts us from dealing with life and complexities.  That said some complexities we may wish to side step, if we are an empathic intuitive.  We don’t always have to be emotionally available.

Anyway there are some good books out there to help with understanding the role anger plays in our lives and whether or not we have learned to express it in healthy way and listen to what it is telling us in functional ways or repress and deny it leading to depression and auto immune problems.  I have written blogs on the subject in the past but often they get buried way back due to the way my blog is set up and the fact that now, 4 years on I have a lot of posts.

For information of those who would like it though, some of the books on anger I have found especially helpful follow:

John Lee, The Anger Solution : The Proven Method for Achieving Calm and Developing Long Lasting Relationships.

This book is great as he explains very clearly the concept of age regression which is similar to an experience of an emotional flashback that can intensify the way we responde to incidents which trigger old experiences of pain, neglect or abuse.  He gives techniques for unpacking the past triggers.  Just understanding when we are age regressed helps us a lot in our emotional recovery.

Beverley Engel, Honour Your Anger : How Transforming Your Anger Style Can Change Your Life.

Dr Les Carter, The Anger Trap : Free Yourself from the Frustrations That Sabotage Your Life.

And for those whose passive aggressive anger style may come from a fear of abandonment due to displeasing others a very helpful book on learning to self assert honestly is :

Harriet B Braiker, The Disease To Please : Curing the People Pleasing Syndrome.

I am sure there are many other wonderful books out there.  There is no substitute for good therapy to work with the roots of anger and self assertion as these are such important issues when we are dealing with depression.   I hope some of this information may be of help to others.

These tears : stream of consciousness

I wrote this piece as stream of consciousness following the visit my by nephew back in August.   It didn’t make it out of drafts, sadly (until today).

These tears We could not shed together Are shed in the privacy of my home

Alone

My soul breaks open The bank bursts

As I think of the darkness that descended when rupture saw you fall to the ground Your older son found you And now he lives 12,000 miles from home

We miss him And our souls ache Knowing how hard it is for all of us

This disconnection

And yet later I know

Our connection is never absent really Its just that the Now has taken us all in different directions

Jasper you wake from your slumber To see me crying (but you are animal and not human so you turn away)  makes me sadder Then with these later tears comes the realisation of the deeper impact of my sister’s stroke and the painful aftermath, that flung everyone wide apart

For me I see how I have found it almost impossible to hold anyone close The fire of my anger which was undistilled grief and pain was the force field keeping others out The fire I had inside carried a deeper symptom of how much fear I had about ever being close to any one again  Lately I am feeling it as embedded vibrational charge as I make the attempt to connect again

And so I erect my lines of defence In sad stories I tell about how no one could ever really love me or understand In the fear my body feels but my mind denies In the distance I keep up by avoiding  I saw it so clearly yesterday How I moved in the opposite direction away from connection like the planet Uranus, my ruling planet that revolves backward.

The tears that fall now speak to the terrible lonely complexity of my plight.  To be close is dangerous, to be far apart can cause a chill to cover my soul

Back in bed my mother looks for rest After a fleeting visit that awakened who knows what ghosts she faces the sad fact of her immortality and of all her desire caused to pass

Old anger flares before compassion floods me with the water of a deeper knowing compassion that undoes the flames

Stream of consciousness I just let it flow – Making sense – helping me to see things and to feel things I never could before

I long for loving arms to hold me as I grieve just as my nephew surrounded my shoulder at the grave where we viewed the barren space with two small plaques bearing the names of sister and grandmother

In another grave on the other side of the cemetery my father lies So far from anyone So far So far Oh Dad I cry I wish we could talk So many things I cannot know You are not here now I can only speak to in silence  I pray that you hear me but even then it doesn’t really matter what is most important is that I write the words.

As I navigate the inner and outer worlds, I am weaving this complex tapestry of loss and love and really wondering if there is any life outside this painful history or is this just the final reckoning?  I am not sure I know how to live outside of it while also knowing somedays I do, at least for a short while

Grey clouds descended just after you flew out  I face my fear and call my sister and we talk for a long time I say to her that I feel the sky is crying After days of sun When you left It went Aint No Sushine When You’re Gone Frost on the Soul Damp covers everything

And yet in this heart too, a fire is awake

Or at least there is fire food here to light when I reach out for connection with others and with my soul

I am reminded of how much lies hidden in the subtext of what we say What falls in the spaces between words

All we lost all we suffer all we ache and long for things we lost or never really found, laying tired and spent behind a passing river which flows past regardless to another destination while we weep or just open our arms to the sky and let go

Then another images comes : Mercury divine messenger with his winged sandals appears in the left field of my vision I see him moving between the worlds conscious/unconscious, above/below, inward/outward as I am reminded to keep a close watch on my soul and allow what ever realisations or reckonings to emerge and flow.

And then I notice how my tears have dried and how later the sun has appeared

There are blue sky spaces emerging reminding me that everything changes and comes into and out of view and also how precious a moment of presence awake within  the vibrant moment is and if lost like a dropped stich can be picked up again with just a subtle shift of time and view.

Manipulation : differentiating needs, wants and requirements

The following is a profound excerpt from Michael Brown’s book The Presence Process that I wanted to share after reading it again this morning. Reading it triggered a bit of shame attack for me, as I realised the times my own hidden need ‘sucked’ on others in relationship.  As an adult it was up to me to meet those needs but I had not done my inner child work at that point.  I have also been pulled upon but perhaps when this happens we can meet others in compassion?

Manipulation

A boy is born.  The first thing that happens is that his mother’s nipple is thrust into his face.  He sucks on it and through the experience receives all his nutrition. Then, after a relatively short period, the nipple is removed and forever hidden from him.

Poor litle fellow!  Without  consciouusly realising it he spends the rest of his life trying to seek the nipple and suck on it again.  Every woman he meets becomes a potential candidate for this desperately sought reunion.  Because of this dilemma, he’s constantly hungry and restless.

One day he meets a wise woman who says to him “I’m not your mother.  No woman is.  Leave my breasts alone.  Source is your mother.  Go find source’s nipple and don’t come back until you know what I am. Only then will I lie naked in your arms.”

This messes everything up for him.  Up until this moment, he has lived his whole life assuming he knows what love is, and why he does what he does in the world.   It’s a shocking revelation ” man-nipple-nation – manipulation!

With this revelation he percieves clearly why he treats woman in this way – why he treats anyone or anything in this way – he’s nothing more than an insatiable sucker!’

Until we integrate our unconscious definitions of love  we can’t differentiate between a need, a want and a requirement.  Without realising it, we therefore consciously and unconsciously manipulate every experience in an attempt to recreate the resonance of the emotional charge we mistakenly associate with our unconditional definition of love.

A need is that which is absolutely necessary to continue dwelling within the human experience – like food, water, oxygen and so on.

A want is that which we seek to make us feel better about the uncomfortable condition of our imprinting.  The intent of wanting is to diminish our awareness of the discomfort that arises from our charged emotion by sedating or controlling it.  Because the causal point of this behaviour is discomfort, the insatiable outcome is also discomfort.

A requirement is identifiable in that it’s what happens.  Requirements are given, whether we want them or not.  They are all the aspects of our experience brought into play by Presence and intended to facilitate personal evolution.  A requirement is seldom an experience we want, but when we respond to it, the consequence is personal growth.

When we are driven by our unconscious definition of love, we are only interested in wants.  Because of this, we manipulate everything to get what it is we assume we want.  But no matter how many of the objects of our wants we acquire, they are never enough.   Our unconscious definition of love, since it’s by nature conditional, can never bring about the unconditional experience we seek – and therefore it deprives us of ever feeling “we are enough.”  Only the resonance of “being unconditional” is able to initiate the experience of “enough.”

As long as we are manipulating our experience, it’s challenging for us to respond maturely to our needs, and it’s almost impossible for us to gratefully receive what’s required.  What’s required appears to continually interfere with us getting what we want.

By integrating our unconscious definition of love, we are able to discern between our needs, wants, and requirements – and to respond accordingly  Only when we are able to identifty our “needs” as the primary nutrition for our body, and “requirements ” as the primary nutrition for our soul development,”  are we able to cease maniuplating our experience.

It’s only then that we recognise manipulation as attempting to turn what’s already happening into something else.  The intent to “be with what is without conditons” integrates manipulative behaviour by revealing the imprinted charge that drives it.

….

When we feel lack in any area of our experience, it’s because somewhere or somehow we are attempting to get what we want by taking from others whatever we perceive to be lacking in ourselves.

Here is an important realisation to digest: Our wanting, which is driven by our unintegrated emotional charge, leads us to believe that what we seek in order to feel satisfied is something solid and tangible … But it isn’t.  It’s never the “thing” that we are really after, but the resonance associated with possessing the thing.

Releasing ourselves from lack and entering into unlimited abundance commences when we give unconditionally to ourselves that which we have been seeking from others: unconditional attention.

Love is everything.  That is why integrating our unconscious definition of love is the key to unlocking both the awareness and the expeieince of what unlimited abundance truly is.

Our experience exactly as it is unfolding – no matter how it may appear to us – is required.  If it’s happening, it’s because it is required.  Our task is to respond to what’s happening to us as if it’s valid, instead of reacting to it. Through unconditonal response, we integrate.  Through conditioned reaction, we disintegrate…. We therefore feel it without placing conditions on it

Loving ourselves unconditionally at a causal level is embracing the felt aspect of our experience in each given moment, recognising that it’s both valid and reuired, without judging what’s happening through us and to us.  Only when we are able to be this way with the felt asepct of our expereince are we able to be this way with others and the experiences they are required to go through.

There is no love to ‘get’ in this world.  The world is as neutral as mirror.  We perceive in it what we place before it.  When we attempt to get love from this world by taking it, we steer our experience deeper and deeper into lack.

When we integrate, there’s nothing to get in this world.  Rather, we have come here to place unconditional love in our experience of the world  By doing so, we cross a bridge into an experience in which we consistently receive all we need and require.

 

 

We can learn to love ourselves unconditionally

Finding the unconditional love for ourselves inside that we missed as children is perhaps our greatest adult recovery task.  The pain of not being met or loved unconditionally or in an open receptive way can haunt many of us well into adulthood.  The yearning for this love and deep disappointment over its absence may or may not be fully conscious.  It may be triggered by what brings up the hurt we felt when we were not loved in this way.  Re reading the Chapter I Forgive Myself in Michael Brown’s book The Presence Process this morning is reminding me of this as I read back some of my blogs from yesterday as well as comments left.

I think of my Dad’s generation and what they went through. Dad’s solution to the poverty and loss of his childhood was to get as far away from his family and war torn country as he could.  He only went back to Holland briefly after Mum was sent there with my brother to try and get healing for his rickets after they were stationed in Indonesia during the late 1940s and eary 1950s.  He found it too small and too confined.  My mother was left there with my brother and sister who were only small for 13 months.  She had to learn to speak Dutch in order to communicate.  My father was nearly killed a couple of times at the hands of resistence fighters in Indonesia where during those years the Indonesia freedom fighters were engaged in a violent fight for independence.    He never told me a lot about it but in later years my Godfather, Uncle Piet did.   I was lucky to have the later connection with Piet who began to open up his own inner child’s grief and vulnerability in way my father could not.

Dad was taught to smoke at the age of 8 and could never give it up because when he did his feelings would start to get unmanageable.  I remember one family member saying they wished he would start smoking again so his behaviour would be more placid again.  Exactly what was he defending against?   He kept a remote distance from us, was not unkind but he was not demonstrative and often our needs were neglected or denied or we we taught we needed to supress them.  The two times we hugged where after we nearly lost our lives in a road accident and on the evening Dad revealed his cancer dignosis to me in 1984.  He cried then too, as I hugged him.  I value that one tender moment.

It may be hard to feel an emotionally distant parent’s love.  The other parent may engage with you in unloving and hard ways, as my Mum did then you feel unprotected.   Its harder to hate or be upset by the parent you cant figure out and in any case should we hate them or just what they did to us.  If they had known unconditional love themselves only then would they be able to give it or if they felt it deep inside.

The point that Michael makes in this chapter I am reading at the moment is no matter how hard we search for unconditional love outside, our healing only happens as we learn to give it to ourselves.   If we were raised in dysfunctional ways with upside down ideas about love, we carry that through.  We attract those who will spark our wounds so we can feel them and understand them and heal.  We can blame the person but he makes the point they are only the messenger.   We are the ones who have to try to attune to the inner child in us that gets hurt in these kind of relationships and help her or him to be set free without shame or blame.  Unconscious people attract unconscious people, or people working towards inner connection attract someone who alerts them to the need to love themselves.  Its only at the end of the relationship we have the choice to deal with the emotional fallout and understand the deeper resonances of why we were attracted to this person in the first place.

Learning to show ourselves compassion and hold our own hand when we are hurting is so important.   We dont have to lash out at others who dont give us what we want even if it does hurt. That said its okay to lash out too, as we are only human.   The hurt we feel covers over the denied pain we long for.  Passing that hurt on to others or ourselves over and over will never break us out of the destructive cycle,   Only self love, self compassion and unconditional love for ourselves will, and we can apply loving discipline in this process of learning to be fully present to any pain our inner child holds in order we can feel, release it and heal.

 

Silence

Field

Silence bathed in green and grey

This is a silence

Which contains no hurting

No shadow imprints of pain

It is just a peaceful open space

In which I rest for a while

As dusk steals in

To shroud me

In heart’s tender

Hearth comfort

Warmth is what I feel in my bones

When I return from you

The one who sees so deep

And allows it all

The one who recognises the truth

Of the madness of split off human ways

I am restored on some level

To my deep soul

It was always here

This soul of mine

Waiting for me patiently in silence

It knew there would come a day

When all the pain in being recognised

Would find a place

To rest inside

My soul was always willing to wait

For me

Here

Enough

In this still, silent moment

I know I am enough

I cried for years

With trying so hard

When it wasn’t the solution

To any wound I carried

Now I know I am loved

And I can feel love

I am comfortable in silence

Silence is no longer empty

In a hurting way

It is full

Pregnant

With light

Warmth

Wisdom

Abundance

Healing

Silence you give me a home

A deep resting place

For my soul