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Falling Painting

We are never angry because of what others say or do. It is our thinking that makes us angry.

-Marshall Rosenberg-

Feelings!  They can give us a wonderful high but they can also unhinge us at times.  In school, not a lot is taught about how to recognize and manage our feelings.  Most of it is learned through experience, though usually after we’ve already tripped up.😊 

Being able to recognize our feelings as they emerge is a very good start.  We can unconsciously push them down into a hiding place because we would prefer not to deal with them.  At any rate, I think that we benefit from paying attention to our feelings, even if we decide not to act on them, for whatever reasons.  Sometimes we are troubled by a serious situation, but we need more time to process our emotions before we can address the issue.  Or we are bothered by petty annoyances that are not worth mentioning.  Nonetheless, it can be useful to examine how we feel because it can help us to understand why we get annoyed.

It sounds obvious but we must feel our feelings.  In heated situations, we often skip this part and react in hurt or in anger towards others.  Which usually turns out badly.  It’s helpful to take some time alone to notice the inward sensations.  And to allow ourselves to experience what we find.   To feel the hurt, the anger, the pain.  In a previous article, I discussed how resistance was problematic for me.  In this video, spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle gives very helpful advice on how to accept whatever we are experiencing and feeling in the moment. (Note that there’s an error in the description beneath the video—it got mixed up with another one about presence in nature.)

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I’m in total agreement with the practice described in that video.  I’ve dealt with anxiety and panic attacks on and off for forty years now.  The best remedy that I’ve found, by far, is to accept the wave of fear that envelops me as it’s happening.  It’s as if by acknowledging the sensations arising and allowing them to express themselves, they pass right through me.  And no longer need to harass me as often.  The fear, the emotion, just needs to be seen.  Like us, I guess.  We all need to be seen. 

We can do a lot of damage when we get carried away in our own little storyline.  Our thoughts fuel our feelings.  If we feel, say, resentment towards a person, our mind can really multiply the grievances we carry.  We play out a scenario of indignation in our minds, reinforcing the image of ourselves as victims.  But that’s not reality, it’s only our imaginations running wild.  It can only worsen the situation, leading us to act out heatedly.  Instead, we can be having a more helpful dialogue with the said person.

The quote that I chose at the beginning of the article is from the man who developed Nonviolent Communication.  Marshall Rosenberg’s method shows us how to be supportive of others while affirming our own needs, for a win-win resolution to conflict.  There’s a lot of truth in the old saying: “There are two sides to every story”.  With an open mind and a bit of empathy, this type of communication almost always leads to resolution.  And peace. 

Some say that unprocessed emotions can leave traces on our bodies in the form of disease and pain.  I know that as my parents got older and frail, I was feeling resentful for shouldering so much of the responsibility for them.  After my dad died, I developed capsulitis, or frozen shoulder, on my right side.  And in the last year of my mom’s life, I got it on the left side.  Maybe if I had expressed my resentment and asked for more help, I could have avoided all that pain. 

Our thoughts can feed our emotions and our emotions impact our bodies.  Awareness around our feelings and thoughts seems to be key in caring for ourselves as well as in improving our relationships.  If we are longing for connection, to self, to others, to Spirit, perhaps our emotions are leading the way…

swimming