Recently, in a correspondence with a friend of mine, they expressed their struggle with emotion. I shared some ideas they found useful. I drafted them into this post and expanded on it.
It’s not that sadness is the incomplete feeling, its that sadness that sticks around is incomplete. The signal has not gotten through. But the sadness is likely not the source. The sadness may be a signal from something deeper – anger, regret, fear. When that is unresolved, it causes discomfort leading to sadness.
To illustrate the layers, this quote: “In Depression is Anger, In Anger is Fear, In Fear is a Hurt.”
A healthy emotion will simply wash over you and pass. Or stronger, will be processed and pass. Anything that sticks around is not complete. If it comes up over and over again, it is waiting to be healed. And it is likely reinforcing your story.* And it is taking your energy to sustain it. For some people, a large percent of their energy.
Gangaji and other teachers have a process they do called inquiry. When you feel an issue or question, they will ask who is having the experience? Who feels the feeling? As you go into it, you often feel it peeling back in layers. Under the sadness is another pain, under that is fear, and under that is peace. If you see a guided inquiry, you’ll see it work with every drama, every concern.
This process may take a little practice at first. For many people, looking under their feelings is not a familiar thing. The key is allowing. It’s not about going into or wallowing in the emotion, but rather taking a step back. As in the above, noticing who is having the experience. Then from that place, allowing it to be what it is. When you don’t step into the drama but rather simply allow it, the experience is much less difficult and can be released.
For myself, I found that culturing gratitude shifted the habit away from making wrong, making allowing much easier. Much easier to be OK with what is if you are. 😉
Don’t believe any of this. Look for yourself. When you find what is true for you, it will work for you. If you just add this as a belief, it’s just another story. Just another illusion. This is not a concept, this is an experiential process.
For some people, it can be like an awakening in itself when they take a step back from the drama and see it for what it is. Suddenly, what has been a great burden is reduced to a Grimm’s fairy tale. Even if we fall back into it, something of the grip has been reduced as it has been seen.
“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts…”
— William Shakespeare, “As You Like It“, Act 2 scene 7
This is where effortless meditation has value. Not only does it help you clear but it gives you that experience of self within, the separate witness that can step back and observe the drama. From that platform, we can begin to change our habits of perception and how we relate to the world.
This is not about emotional control. That is resistance, the very reason you have a backlog of incomplete emotions. This resistance will arise as anger and frustration. An inner scream. If that comes up, look into it. What is there? And what is under that? Just allow it to be what it is.
Perhaps you are afraid of your emotions, of feeling. There’s so much bottled up pain in there, a big darkness. This is why I call it the shadow story. It is the bogeyman under the bed. Sure, some of it is not nice. But once you learn to step back with the little stuff, the bigger stuff will step forward, looking for a chance to heal. And if we’re not caught in it, it’s just another experience. Not a bogey man at all. No darkness with the light of attention.
If you have big feelings like grief, you may want to find healthy and comfortable ways to process them when they do come up. Again, not to go into them, but to allow them to complete. Some people punch a pillow or hike or journal or cry. Be patient with yourself but also be watchful. Get to know what is stepping into the drama and what is simply experiencing. One has a story and the other doesn’t. One will give you thoughts and ideas to feed it, the other will stay a feeling. One is reinforcing it, the other releasing it. Soon, you’ll begin to be able to look under the feeling. Then this kind of processing won’t be necessary. It will just be about experiencing.
Many of us have a drive to be perfect, to not admit weakness or fault. Or inversely, to look for weakness and fault. This is the ego mind, making things right and wrong. It has a story and it’s sticking to it. But the story is just an idea. It’s not real.
Judgments of weakness or fault are purely perceptual. If we change how we are looking, what story we are telling ourselves, we change what we see. We change our world. Weakness is simply a strength seen from lack. Seen from duality or either/or, every coin has 2 sides. Which side are you looking at? Why the dark side? Look into it. Why even take sides? Only mind thinks it needs to take a side, to have an opinion.
A simple way to check how this works is to watch the evening news. Watch the thoughts and feeling that come up. Do the items remind you of your pain? Reinforce to you how bad it is? Have you confirming your judgments about “all politicians” or “those Arabs”? TV news is designed to appeal directly to the ego and your personal drama. This is why investigative facts are minimized and the drama is maximized. It’s not news at all – it’s olds. Old stories regurgitated over and over. The ego exemplified.
Advertising is another example. Many products have no value whatsoever but advertising plays to your stories to create desire. How do you react to ads? If you react even negatively, its working. They have captured your attention. Again, this is not about judgment, just seeing what is there. When you can see it, you can choose. You are not caught. Diet products are huge because people don’t feel good enough about themselves or are too overshadowed by their feelings to simply take care of themselves. Overeating and spending are unhealthy ways to process emotions. Thus, the string of failed diets or credit card debt, and continual demand for a ‘magic pill’ to make it go away.
This is the nature of the story we repeat to ourselves over and over, like a skipping record. When you begin to step back, you begin to hear the repeaters. And they are seen. And that’s the key – when they are seen, they can be looked at. When their falsehood is seen, they crumble. No judgment is needed here, just seeing it for what it is.
The comparative intellect is a very useful tool. It helps us decide many things. But when we let the mind take charge, it makes up a *story about everything, rating it good and bad. I agree with this, that’s crap. And it compares everything about us with everyone else, rating them the same way. Many of these stories were written when we were very young. When they are seen in the light of now, they can seen ridiculous.
More startling when we realize we’ve been making important life decisions based on this old trash. Any idea in your head that is making you or anything else less than is the ego speaking. You can believe the story or see that it is a story and put your attention on something else. See through it or don’t look. Give it nuthin.
Remember – your attention is your power. Your feelings are your energy. What you put your attention on grows stronger. What you resist persists.
When we look a these emotions, you may be surprised by the connections that lead to your behavior. The mind is associative, so when something similar comes up to the story, it latches on and associates them. Even if they have nothing apparent to do with each other – only perhaps a seed concept or feeling. Thus your feelings about an old situation become associated with your feelings about what is happening now. These produce what some call our buttons. (laughs)
‘My grade 3 teacher said I was ugly so it must be true.’ ‘He was a bad man so I better not trust a man again.’ ‘If I looked like Barbie I’d have the relationship of my dreams.’ ‘Real men don’t cry/ eat/ dress smartly’. ‘If I was rich and famous I’d be happy.’ It’s amazing the messages we take to heart. You don’t believe people carry these stories? Look at the magazines by your supermarket checkout. They exist because there is significant demand. I’m above that? For past relationships, did they fail you or did they fail your story? If you’re a man, when was the last time you cried? If a woman, are you comparing them to a prince?
Blame is an important one to look into, especially when we blame others for hurting us. When someone we respect says or does something unexpected or hurtful, it can be a shock. But do we take it personally? Take it to heart? Or simply see they’re having a bad day. This is how one person becomes traumatized and another not. If you take it personally, you are making it part of your story. Or using it to confirm a story that’s already there. If you believe it, that’s what makes it true. Not what happened, what you believe about it.
This is the deeper aspect, that no one can hurt you. We can only choose to be hurt, to take it personally. Of course, when we’re in the middle of it, that’s not so easy to see. Especially when we were young. The key again is being able to take a step back. And then forgive. Hardest to forgive is yourself. But when you do that, you will find there was nothing to forgive. We can toss the burden.
It’s also worthwhile mentioning that there’s a LOT of change taking place in group consciousness. Much of the old is falling away, as exemplified in the news. You may be experiencing a push or a drive to see. If you don’t want to see, then there is resistance. It may even be that you’re experiencing how things have been, but now from a more awakened place. And it’s not pretty. ‘Where the heck did this come from??’
As they say, its always darkest before the dawn. And it’s one hell of a sunrise underway.
PS – don’t use this to make yourself wrong or not good enough. Be nice to yourself. Have patience. This can take a bit of work – you’ve been reinforcing the story for a long time. But once you get to the core a bit, it’s amazing how quickly it starts to fall away.