DOING THE WORK ON FEELINGS AS A PATH TO ACTION (I’ll make this series of comments I made on our Aligned Action message thread into a blog post if you want to read it then!):
This whole discussion we have been having about doing The Work on feelings really leads to what we are about to focus on next–with a different focus in BOTH the Aligned Action group and the No Matter What group. So it’s perfect!
ALLLLL of what we are doing is about how the ways we learned to hold trauma in our bodies and the thoughts that keep it alive and that do not allow us to come off of high alert. It is how knee-jerk reactions got stuck during early trauma (not something big, often just a startle pre-language or a hospitalization or a comment we misunderstood later). It is often and the key to why we are not taking action or for those times when certain or our inquiries let us experience a powerful shift, but the old patterns return.
The BEYOND MINDFULNESS MAP really gets to the heart of this in a very simple way, and that I recommend doing not only for 10 days in a row in the mornings, but as a daily way of waking up and being with yourself, and then as a walking meditation throughout the day…. to stay so so so very present in your body and with your surroundings and observing your thinking–and doing all of that without judgment.
And when you notice the judgment on your feelings or on your thinking as the cause of them, that is your work. That is why we want to not just observe the feelings, but do TW on what they are screaming at us. And also help out the parts of ourselves that are judging us for even having that feeling, fearing or hating the feeling/symptom, and attaching stories to it.
This is SUPER common and a huge challenge for those with chronic conditions, depression, anxiety, or unwanted knee-jerk reactions to stress; the minute we feel even a glimmer of that old familiar unwanted feeling or symptom, we can go into fear or into beating ourselves up for whatever we are sure we (or someone else) did to cause it. I spend YEARS in that place.
Doing inguiry on feelings is really about doing The Work on your story about the feelings and staying right with the feelings and continuing to go deeper and deeper with whatever story comes up next as you see through the last one.
So rather than being hard on ourselves, you can use these “holdout” places–that are still stuck even after you’ve come so far at using anything that upset you to have all of your inner game–as the catalyst for going to the next level and moving beyond the ways the reaction was programmed into our bodies so long ago.
It is critical to SLOW EVERYTHING WAY DOWN, so you can feel the feelings and question the thoughts and stay present in your body and with the stories that are coming up about the feelings. In my case I was FORCED to slow everything down and do the work (long before I knew about “The Work”) inside my body for years and years, even after I felt I had come so far in other co-dependent reactions and about looking to ‘do the opposite’ around my compulsions.
The ultimate challenge is feeling the enemy was within–whether its a feeling or pain or habitual response to a trigger–and not knowing how to deal with the intensity of the emotional reactions toward it, toward ourselves, and toward others. My health crash forced me to go in and learn to be with the feelings and symptoms that I hated so much.
And yet I still couldn’t transform them–even after years of practice–till i knew this compassionate way to neutralize current remnants of the thinking and survival scripts that originally got lodged in my body… I was a model of somatic reactivity–a rolling plethora of symptoms—and all of that seems to be gone now.
There is much research that shows that the heart is also “thinking“ for us and is feeding signals to the mind, and the mind feeding signals back to the heart and body. Doing only body work without undoing the stressful thinking that took over when we went into freezing mode because we couldn’t flee or fight–i.e. couldn’t shake off trauma–is super important, and is what we have been doing.
However, if we are stuck, it means to me that the work has to take into account the FEELING peace. The feelings we have toward our own feelings are at the heart of our pain. We cannot shut them down or ignore them or walk away from them or persecute them… If we do we stay stuck.
The thinking from the heart and the thinking from the mind are intertwined, So the Finding UN-Forgivenss assignment I sent out last night is about opening our hearts by helping out the thinking in the areas where we can’t.
That involves slowing way down and finding that it is safe after all to feel the feelings we don’t want to feel, Without judgment, and to observe the thoughts we don’t want to think, without judgment, and to finally to neutralize the polarities in our thinking and observe how the relationship between heart and mind shifts–so we finally stop repeating the old patterns and move into action.