The Feeling Vortex
When it comes to feeling the feelings, many people are afraid that if they start with a feeling, or “go there,” the feeling will consume them. If I get angry, I’m never going to stop being angry. If I cry, I’m afraid that I will never stop crying.
As human beings we tend to go toward pleasure and away from pain. For some people, the pleasure is a greater motivator and for others, getting away from pain is greater motivator. Unfortunately, pain is an inevitable part of the human experience. Pain can show up as hurt, disappointment, anger, frustration, grief, sadness, etc. And there are many ways to escape from pain (numbing ourselves, distracting ourselves, projecting onto others). These methods can provide some level of (temporary) relief from the pain. They give us a sense of control and the perception that we are doing something about the pain, but really, these methods don’t go very far in actually dealing with the pain.
To deal with the pain, we have to start by feeling the feelings. The fear that the feeling will consume us is a very loud and profound fear, but it is that fear that causes discontent and struggle. It is that fear that builds up the pain into something bigger, and it is that fear that keeps us invested in continuing the struggle to get away from the pain. The fear and resistance are just other forms of pain, and so, we are not actually achieving our goal. We aren’t getting away from the pain, we have created more pain.
Feelings are not easy, but they contain valuable insight from our inner selves…and, they are our release valves. When we feel the feelings, we release the pressure. It is healthy, normal and natural to feel negative feelings, and once they are felt, they truly do dissipate. A feeling is an experience, and you are still you during that experience. The feeling will subside. Circumstances in life may not change, challenges may remain, and feelings may pop back up again, but when we allow ourselves to feel, it propels us forward.
I haven’t heard a story of a person who started crying and has been crying continuously for the last ten years, but I have heard many, many stories of people struggling to resolve pain from a safe distance. I know the strength it takes to keep a safe distance, and I know the strength it takes to feel the feeling. I respect both.