Understanding this relationship will change your life!
When we first start to look at ourselves and become more aware of what is happening inside of us it can feel a bit like a journey into madness. This journey is necessary in order to become more whole in ourselves. When we shine the torch light inside of us it is vital to learn the skills for navigating what we discover- the unlimited cornucopia of our stories and the inevitable discomfort of our feelings.
This is the way to satisfying intimate relationship and unlimited sexual pleasure! For the degree with which we are intimate with ourselves is the degree to which we can be intimate and in pleasure with another.
Most of us try to think our feelings
Though this is what most of us try to do, as a way of avoiding the discomfort of actually feeling them. As we become more and more intellectual this becomes more ‘normal’. The problem with this is that it suppresses our authentic connection to ourselves, leaving us more anxious and fear based, more susceptible to mind generated negative thoughts and feelings.
Thinking vs Feeling
The first step is to start taking your awareness from the world around you to the world inside of you and simply notice what is happening- thinking vs feeling.
The second step is to make our feelings OK. If we’re not comfortable in our feelings we judge them as messy, painful and unnecessary. They’re certainly often portrayed that way in our society, whether it’s in emotion fuelled dramas on TV or role modelled by our least favourite ‘over emotional’ relative or co worker. Emotions also get a bad rap from many spiritual philosophies that talk about the need to ‘transcend’ emotions in order to be truly ‘spiritual’. Instead, we suggest accepting them and going through our feelings allows them to feel less like pain and more like aliveness on the way to truth and wholeness.
There are generally two types of feeling paths that people experience (who are often in relationship with each other!):
People with emotional intensity:
If you are someone who has many intense feelings then your journey towards wholeness is starting out fragmented in the intensity and moving toward your centre, where your centre is your rock in the middle of the storm of life. Like the popular poster image of a few years ago with a man appearing at the door of a tiny lighthouse, standing on a foundation no wider than the lighthouse itself in a raging ocean. The man appears without fear, centred and grounded in himself.
This is stepping into a place of control in your feelings is your challenge. Note that I said control ‘IN’ your feelings, rather than control ‘OVER’ them. It sounds illogical yet the experience is one of coming home to yourself, of freedom.
If intense feelings are your normal then your task is to get more present in them so they don’t overwhelm you. To detach your feelings from your story and just feel what is real in your body, by observing your thoughts exactly as they are right now and feeling your feelings as they are in the present moment. Rather than creating more intensity through spiraling thoughts and increasing emotion ie. drama, as this drama becomes like a never ending soap opera with no way out, with you hooked into waiting for the next episode. Taking some slow, deep breaths will help, as taking control of our breath helps us to take control of our feelings.
For when we fully feel any individual feeling it passes and is gone from our body, most often within a few moments, half an hour to an hour at most. If it feels never ending and doesn’t shift, this means you are still not experiencing it fully, and staying in the drama of your thoughts. If this is happening be gentle with yourself and see if you can stop and go more deeply into the feeling- ending your intensity sooner! You will know it has shifted when you feel clear of it.
People with little emotionality:
However if you are someone who has been very intellectual rather than feeling based it can seem chaotic and overwhelming to start feeling (not to mention pointless).
If you are new to feeling your task is to value your feelings and trust that they have a purpose, that they will offer you useful information about yourself. And that from this perspective they will also offer you freedom- for at its deepest point freedom is simply a feeling in your body.
Your practice is recognizing when you are thinking and unaware of your feelings. You do this by pausing and taking your attention inside you and simply noticing. Taking some deeper breaths can help, as the more you breathe the more you feel. You might first notice you are feeling nothing, this is still a feeling!
Remember that to fulfil your deepest desire of feeling connected with another you must first feel this connection with yourself.
Connection is a feeling in itself.
We can’t separate our feelings and decide we want to feel happy, excited, loving or connected etc whilst avoiding feeling sad, scared, hurt or alone.
We either feel or we don’t.
Whilst we may think we can feel happy etc whilst suppressing our so called negative emotions what we actually experience is a mere echo of what is possible. This interestingly also include our feelings of sexual pleasure.
Which means if you want better orgasms you need to start feeling more emotional!
And by feeling emotional we don’t in mean the socially accepted model- that of acting out our emotions all over the place! We mean simply feeling them.
For if you desire intimate relationship, if you want more love, closeness, happiness and even pleasure and excitement in your life then getting into healthy relationship with your feelings is vital because all of these good things are feelings!
One of the main reasons we avoid intimacy, or it goes pear shaped is down to our inability to connect with or be with this part of ourselves. We see this over and over again in the work that we do with couples. We personally know this one from the inside out too, due to the intense nature of our relationship and life changes we’ve called in over the last few years- where our emotional intelligence has been invaluable, the difference between life and death!
Feelings are not good or bad
Emotions such as fear, anger, sadness and feelings like guilt and shame are not the only feelings we’re capable of, they just tend to be the messiest. It doesn’t mean our painful feelings are wrong it just means we need to learn how to deal with them.
Of course we can also experience many other feelings such as happiness, gratitude, openness, joy, peace, ease, love, pleasure etc. Our biggest challenge with these so called ‘positive’ feelings is that we don’t know we have the choice to access them inside ourselves and miss out on them whilst waiting for external circumstances to offer them to us.
We can’t choose to feel some feelings and not others, we either feel or we don’t. We miss out on feeling truly, mindblowingly wonderful by avoiding feeling so called ‘bad’. It’s all just feeling.
Our feelings have a purpose
Emotions are part of our communication and survival systems. In the west they are thought to be created in the oldest part of our Primal brain as part of our survival system, in the east are thought to exist as energy in motion (E-motion) in the body.
A simple way of thinking about feelings in our bodies is to imagine them like water flowing through a hose. When we choose to avoid a feeling we put a kink in the hose, creating a backup of water that eventually leaks out in other areas. The way to unkink the hose is simply to acknowledge and feel the feeling.
Our problem is trying to answer a feeling problem with thinking answers. We do this because we subconsciously believe it keeps us safe and in control. There are times when this is necessary and others when it just gets in the way. We all genuinely want to feel loving and loved in our relationships, and try to do the right thing, so we experience much inner turmoil when we’re triggered into feelings and behaviours that are the opposite of what we want. This inner conundrum, driven by our social conditioning and Egoic fears about emotions, creates confusion, disconnection and shame inside us making it difficult to step further forward into intimacy.
Thoughts and feelings are separate.
Thoughts happen in the mind. Feelings happen in the body.
Feelings are NOT thoughts and you cannot think them.
But they are strongly related to each other-
Thoughts can create feelings: today is Valentines Day and I believe I will receive flowers from my lover therefore I feel happy.
Feelings can also create thoughts: I feel scared as I want to tell my partner I love her. The fear of rejection makes me think she will see me as needy and I will be rejected again.
Triggered feelings from something outside of us: Anger in response to my husband sitting in front of the tv instead of helping me with the kids.
Triggered feelings from inside of us (usually from our past): feeling my girlfriend not being interested in me brings up feelings I experienced with my mother being emotionally unavailable.
WE all have these four kinds of feelings experiences and not knowing how to deal with them keeps us separate from our authentic self and from those around us as we act out, disconnect, pull away or shut down.
Thoughts help us understand whilst staying in control.
Feelings seem like they take us out of control and understanding comes after they have been felt. This sense of being out of control can be greatly lessened by simply choosing to acknowledge, feel, understand, enjoy and resolve our feelings.
Exercises to try:
- Practice noticing whether you ‘thinking’ your feelings in your head, or feeling them in your body. If you are thinking them, pause and bring your attention to your body and notice what you are actually feeling, separate from your thoughts.
- Practice noticing whether your thoughts are creating your feelings, or your feelings are creating thoughts, and whether your feeling triggers are external or internal. Noticing this will show you what to do about them.