Rejecting our feelings gets us in bad trouble, bad trouble indeed. Why do we reject feelings? Because they are uncomfortable, some of them. It is those uncomfortable feelings that we reject—feelings that lead to sickness, fear, loneliness.
We need to be gentler with ourselves. We need to embrace bad feelings as soon as they come up, just embrace and wrap our spacious Self around them. When we embrace, we love, don’t we? And it is love that is the healing Force.
I read a wonderful chapter in my book Soul Without Shame on self betrayal last night. The author was sharing how he learned to betray himself in childhood as a result of how his parents reacted to him telling him something didn’t hurt him or he should have a different response to his own legitimate one. In that moment, so as to not be abandoned emotionally he decided to self betray and self reject, it was pattern he learned to carry on siding with the outer parent who was now bought inside (or introjected as an inner critic) and abandoning his own inner child.
When we tell people they got what was coming to them or that they were let down in this way for a reason we forget that this is neither truthful or kind and comes out of our own defects of character or emotional blindness or disconnection. If we learned early on to self reject we may not even be fully conscious of it. We often as adults loose true empathy and understanding of a young infant or child’s plight. They are not big enough to side against the parent, they cannot survive without them and so they have no alternative but to adapt. Telling a child he should not act like a child or respond as a child is invalidation abuse and can fuck with someone’s head. But how often do we tell ourselves this later in life, forgetting that if we are acting or reacting like a child it is because something deep from childhood is being triggered and we have work to do to stay with that young part of us as a loving adult in order to find out what it is and why it is that way.
The work of Margaret Paul as outlined in her book Inner Bonding helps us to do just that. She makes the point that when we choose to be a loving adult to our inner child we take the onus off others who are not really responsible for helping us with this healing. (The exception being a therapist or sponsor who we may have asked to help us with this process.) In the quote above and her blog Celia refers to this a part of ourselves as the spacious self. It is the loving, wise, compassionate, nurturing part of us which is large enough to embrace all our feelings, of pain, hurt, anger, vulnerability, guilt and shame and surround them in love so they can be felt, processed, digested and understood.
When we do the opposite and buy into our culture’s and our parent’s or educator’s fear of such feelings, self betrayal and self rejection is the heavy cost and, since what we reject never can be destroyed or truly goes away, we bury it and we loose also our connection to joy which can only arise when we are most deeply connected to our heart’s desire or need which got so badly cut off when we were rejected emotionally and made the poor bargain to self reject or shut feeling and need down.
The undigested lump of what we rejected, buried or could not allow lies down, down deep inside of us and tries to regurgitate at inopportune times. And yet we need to develop the ability to see that these inopportune times are part of our soul’s critical agenda and it is a necessity for them to make themselves known.
I know in my own life I have spent a lot of my time trying to talk my way out of feeling a certain way or needing a certain thing. I wish I had been able to own my own feelings and needs more honestly in my life. I am sure I would not have suffered the accidents and deep confusion I have had I not been taught to self reject. And yet I am aware the self rejection is such a massive issue globally and individually that many of us are working on it and who knows it may be the next evolutionary step forward for many of us. Addictions are part of self rejection on many levels and depression too in many cases.
This is not to say that we should demand that all of our feelings and needs be met by others, when it is in their ability or interest to do so. But if we are able to self accept then we will also accept that others have their own needs, limits, feelings and boundaries. We won’t force our agenda on them as we know all to well the painful cost that comes when such a thing happens to us. Its a fine line, tuning into our own heart, feeling our own joy and pain, wrapping love around us, filling up from inside instead of self rejecting, knowing that who we are is okay and extending that same love, respect and care to others who sadly may have learned to self reject too and force us to carry the painful burden of their own unresolved, deeply hidden feelings.