I break a lot of bad news to clients.
Well, it isn’t actually bad news but it sometimes feels like it in the moment. The “bad” news I break is that they are going to have to feel their feelings (all of their feelings) if they want to move through them. I am often found to be saying things like “let’s allow some space for feeling X” or “what would happen if you allowed feeling Y to have a little more floor time”.
We humans spend so much time and energy trying to not feel the things we don’t want to feel and it is often my job to encourage people to go to the places they have been avoiding or masking, etc. It’s not for the sake of torturing them, even when it feels that way. It’s that there is truth in the saying that the only way out of feelings is through them, no matter what (or how complex) they are. Our feelings are just messengers trying to get a little air time. They want to be felt and acknowledged and then they will go away.
In our classes, we teach that all your feelings are valid. So often people (myself included ‘cause I’m a human too) feel stuff they wish they didn’t have to. Or they feel stuff that is painful or that makes them want to curl up in a ball and never face the world again. Our feelings can be intense. And they can be beautiful and joyous and liberating. And they can be both at the same time. And that is sometimes the hardest part. As complicated and tricky as it sounds, we have to allow space for all of our experience, even, and maybe especially, when there are conflicting feelings.
When we feel only one part of our experiences, it is hard to really move forward.
That is because unacknowledged parts are still there working in the background and they often work really hard to keep us from moving forward until we see them and address them. The solution is to open to create enough space for the conflicting feelings to all co-exist.
In Depth Psychology, we talk about this as the Tension of the Opposites. The idea is that when we are feeling conflicting things we often have the urge to either relegate one feeling to the unconscious mind or to deny, minimize, rationalize, etc. it so that our conscious mind can have one clear thing to feel and think and act on.
The problem is, when we are only allowing one piece of our whole reality, the other parts don’t just magically go away. Things we do not allow into our conscious mind remain operating in the background of our psyche, often getting more and more insistent about getting heard and seen. You can think about it as the unconscious parts raising a counter attack and that they fight dirty. We have to feel and acknowledge them too if we want to move forward into another reality.
It is important to remember that just because we are feeling something does not mean we have to act on that feeling. We can feel all kinds of seemingly conflicting things and then still find Right Action. In fact, feeling all the pieces is more likely to lead to actual right action because we are taking into account our whole selves in our decision.
Allowing space for multiple, and conflicting feelings is muddy business. It demands that we slow down and feel before doing. With enough time, the way forward becomes apparent, but until that moment, we have to keep opening to more and more of our experiences and feel it all: the good, the bad, and the complicated. The Longest Run-On Sentence that I blogged about HERE is a great exercise for practicing this.