In many ways the rational enlightenment, which was a critical turning point in human history together with the ascendency of patriarchal forms of social control put paid to so called ‘irrational’ feelings. At the same time both forces created an enormous split between mind and body, a split we are working hard to understand and heal, a split that leaves us many of us lost, disconnected and disempowered.
I love how synchronicity works, most especially where my blog is concerned as this evening I was re reading a very important section in a book I have referenced before by Andrea Mathews, Letting Go of Good and that section, titled Understanding Your Inner World : Your Internal Messaging System addresses the issue of repressed feeling. Shortly after reading it I came across a link to another post that had been reblogged by a follower on the work of author and therapist Mama Gena (aka Regina Thomashauer) and in the words of the author of that blog
She discusses how our patriarchal society trains us to control and stifle our emotions, which causes them to fester. She writes “our patriarchal society doesn’t honor grief. (Or rage. Or longing. Or jealousy. Or frustration–just to name a few).”
According to Mathews, following the rational enlightenment
Emotional people, or people who are in touch with internal message, such as intuition, came to be thought of as unstable. This was because emotions and other internal stimuli could not be trusted or relied upon at the time. They are here one minute and gone the next. They make us do things we later regret. They drive us insane or to a proximity of insanity. They make us worry, ruminate, and do all kinds of other things with our thoughts that are not at all rational. No. We need to turn off emotions and other internal stimuli in favour of thought. Thought is always rational. But, of course, this is not true.
What we have done in the name of reason is repress. We have repressed emotions, intuition, discernment, and other internal stimuli, as well as awareness of actions, words, thoughts and anything else we consider to be unacceptable. We have, in fact, repressed awareness of our own inner world. And of course, any time we repress awareness of our own inner world our thoughts are not going to be very reasonable – or rational – because they cannot now come from wholeness but from only one segment of who we are. Thought that exists without a direct connection to emotion, intuition, or other internal messages, or which exists relative to a bunch of connections to repressed material is not going to be reasonable Indeed repression make us more unstable – not less.
.. most of us don’t want to know what goes on in our inner world… we suspect that we will find badness and all kinds of pain, betrayal, secret darkness and angst that we just don’t want to have to wade through… there is also a large contingent of spiritual leadership… that teaches that our so called “negative” thoughts and emotions are dangerous to our well being. According to these teachers, our thoughts are always supposed to be positive and our emotions are always supposed to be set on bliss, and when they are not, that is evidence that bad old ego has stepped up and taken hold of us. …. Much like the old traditional ideas about the devil, these ideas about ego set us up for a battle between various aspects of the identity. They do NOT facilitate an awakening to the authentic Self. They simply have people struggling and striving to rid themselves of an essential part of their being, in much the same way that the Age of Reason did.
..These teachings and those that remain from the Age of Reason have a very similar result – self-betrayal….(but) our emotions, our desires, our intuitions, and our discernment are essential to understanding both the identity we have and the authentic Self. We will not come to understand either, nor will we heal any brokenness until we have come to understand the inner world.
And those emotions which are most helpful to us are very much a part of our inner world and exist for a reason. In the following chapters of that section of her book Letting Go of Good Mathews deals with the emotions which she sees as critical to our internal messaging system along with intuition, discernment and desire. We literally cannot survive nor thrive well until we have learned what these emotions have to teach us. In an earlier post I already shared a post taken from that book on fear as one of the internal messengers that come as protector and teacher.
The other three emotions explored by Mathews are as follows :
I am sure many of us out there have been educated at one time or another to believe that one or other of these four emotion is bad or negative in some way but really, as Mathews explores in chapters devoted to each, each has a message for us, a message that we ignore or dismiss at our peril.
Resentment comes to teach us when we are overstepping our boundaries and not sufficiently honouring ourselves. When we have been hurt or shamed or our anger invalidated. Resentment makes us feel something over and over again until we pay attention to that something and deal with it. If it is something we cannot change we need to walk away or at least put up boundaries.
Anger comes as a cry of authenticity from our true sense of self to let us know if we have been diminished or treated unjustly in some way, “when we forget (anger), it comes up to remind us that we exist, that we are real, that we are here in the room with others by whom we wish to be seen and heard, and that we matter. We have a primal need to exist, to be real, to be here, and to matter to ourselves.” Anger will let us know when something that is not okay is happening to us. Abusers or drainers may try to convince us anger is a selfish emotion but anger always exists in tandem with assertion so we can take action to self protect and self care, so “anger is an energy that must be heard and authenticated”, most importantly by us. Buried anger will make itself known in psycho somatic ways if we don’t listen to it and take heed. Anger cannot be denied without difficult consequences.
Sorrow or sadness is an “admission that we are not in control…(letting us know) there has been a searing loss…. Sorrow knows that what we wanted is gone.” According to Mathews the purpose of sorrow is to get us to acceptance, the more we accept sadness and allow ourselves to grieve, rather than block, defend and deny our grief, the more transformation can happen in our lives, or opening to deeper spiritual truths. Good sorrow (well grieved) can cleanse us, clear away fog and toxins, ground us and make us more human and authentic, as well as emotionally available.
Mathews worked with addicts in recovery and in every case she saw how those who resorted to addiction had denied or somehow negated their true sorrow over a loss. Many blamed themselves in some way and she tells the story of Jared in her book a man whose mother was murdered when he went out one night to a friends place and never spoke about the torment he carried inside, until it emerged in group therapy. Through grieving and finally externalising the blame he had held silently within and drank over for years he moved towards a new acceptance and understanding of loss. Love of his self which had been so absent before grew out of this experience, as it will for all of us when we finally have compassion and understanding shown to us which will help us to show to ourselves the same by and through honouring our true feelings.
Mathews concludes with these words.
When we make time to be with our emotions, listening to their wise messages, they often leave us with powerful and transformative shifts towards healing.
When we deny ourselves this process, when we continue to engage with the lie so widespread in a toxic and rapidly deconstructing patriarchal split mind-set, we cut ourselves off from the true source of our healing, which always lies deep within our selves and within the emotions that so often hide deep within buried under our thoughts about them.