I recently had a client come to session talking about the power of the word “and”. I’ll be honest and say I’m not sure if those are her words or something I once said that resonated with her. And I don’t suppose it really matters except in my desire to give credit where credit is due.
The point is, what happens when we allow there to be space for multiple truths. Or multiple components to the overall truth? So often we have mixed or varied feelings about the same situation and if we want to be healthy with our feelings we have to make enough space for all of it. One feeling does not negate the other, even if they seem inherently opposed. We can both want to and not want to do something. Or we can feel both anger and deep joy. We can love and support a person in making their life choices and also resent them for what those choices mean in our own lives.
I am giving these examples in twos but the reality is you may be feeling 8000 different things about the same situation. When we only allow space for one (or even a couple) of the feelings it requires us to do something with the rest-deny, repress, rationalize them away, etc. Sometimes that seems to work in the short term but it isn’t a long term solution. Those feelings are also a part of your reality and they will still be there in the background.
What if you didn't have to choose?
What happens when we allow ourselves the space to let them both be true? From my own experience and from watching the experiences of my clients and our students, I will say magic happens. When we accept that we are feeling this and that (and the other thing too) it is almost like there is immediately more room to breathe. We can stop the holding and start to find the compassion and ease amdist the complicated and sometimes uncomfortable experience of life.
There is so much freedom in not making yourself choose a feeling. Allowing there to be room for the complexity of your experience frees up your energy to make the choices in your life that work for you. The power of “and” lies in stopping the war inside yourself. It lies in creating more space in your life for you (all of you).
When you make space for the duality, the tension between seemingly juxtaposed feelings, you no longer have to stuff one away. And honestly, the things we tuck away tend to gain power in our lives. Tucking them away lets them keep working behind the scenes in our unconscious. Bringing them into the light of consciousness and practicing compassionate accepting awareness generally feels…well…better than the alternative, even when it isn’t comfortable.
I see this over and over and over. People feel like they have to choose one feeling because it seems like if they allow themselves their anger or sadness or joy that somehow they are negating their understanding of another’s position or their joy or their grief. But who says you can only feel one thing?
Our feelings are not always true in the sense that they don’t always reflect reality. However, the fact that we are feeling the way we are feeling is always true. Allowing your feelings to be seen and included into the picture does not mean you have to act on them or let them run your life. It does mean that you can examine them, explore where they came from, and feel compassion for yourself for having them.
So give yourself over to the power of “and”. Lean into a life with enough space for all of your experience. Grant yourself permission to see yourself in all your glorious complexity. With compassion. And acceptance.
Want a way to practice feeling the power of “and”? Check out the exercise I wrote about in this blog.