noun, plural selves, adjective, pronoun, plural selves, verb
1.a person or thing referred to with respect to complete individuality: one’s own self.
2.a person’s nature, character, etc.: his better self.
a .the ego; that which knows, remembers, desires, suffers, etc., as contrasted with that known, remembered, etc.
b. the uniting principle, as a soul, underlying all subjective experience.
In recent days I’ve been making a solid effort to keep myself moving in a positive direction. I had a bad couple of days last weekend and found myself slipping into old attitudes and thought patterns that are no longer comfortable. Like a pair of damn stilettos, sharp, spiky and binding. I needed to put those shoes on, just for a bit, and to be angry, just for a bit. There were valid reasons for my anger, and many of them beyond my direct control.
Anger gets a bad rap in our society. Just as money itself is not the root of all evil, but greed for money that causes all the problems; anger is not a “bad” emotion. It’s what we choose to do with anger that becomes a problem. It’s the belief that we attach to the feeling that gets us all wound up. The biggest troublemaker is the belief that anger is “bad”…”don’t be angry” “stop pouting”, “Be Nice”. The vast majority of us have had those words tossed at us, sometimes gently sometimes harshly, since we first learned to crawl around and assert our will. Is it any wonder that we will do just about anything to avoid it. We will drink ourselves into a stupor, stuff our faces with food, ingest drugs and chemicals and don’t forget sex and rock and roll and compulsive shopping and get on that hamster wheel and keep running. Keep running and it won’t catch you.
But it does. Our emotions always win in the end. They are not going to let us off the hook, no matter how hard we may try. So why does our culture tell us not to feel?
I guess if I knew the answer to that I’d be writing a Doctoral Thesis. I do know a few things about feelings, a few insights I’ve picked up along the way in my endless observations and analysis of Human Behaviour.
First off, we are lazy. We like things to be easy. We like simple answers, solid evidence based solutions, and we want them to work quickly. Personally, I see this as kind of cheating in the game of life. Sitting on the sidelines pretending to have your period. Fact is, feelings are messy and complicated and they get in the way and mess up and complicate our “self directed” lives. And God forbid, sorting out feelings takes TIME!
Another thing it takes is Honesty, and we aren’t so good at that either. Especially not with ourselves. We lie to ourselves more than we lie to anyone else, we’re so good at it most of the time we don’t even know we’re lying! We are amazing creatures!
One last thing we need to do in order to know our emotions is feel Pain. ouch! You don’t have to watch more than an hour of television to know how much we hate pain. The alleviation of pain and worry is a multi-billion dollar industry that sells us happiness in a pill.
But wait, didn’t we learn in school that drugs are BAD? Hmmm this leaves us in quite a conundrum. Apparently drugs are only bad if you buy them from someone who is not authorized and licensed to sell them to you. And by all means don’t even think about growing your own drugs in that back garden.
So let’s summarize…don’t be angry, drugs are bad, anger is bad, take some drugs so you don’t feel angry. Oh and if you do decide to be some whacked out Hippie nut-job who wants to explore your feelings…don’t expect insurance to cover it. It costs far too much money to spend all that time getting messy.
Now I propose that we replace the last set of assumptions with a new one.
Feelings, including anger, are a natural part of being human. They are our bodies way of communicating with us. If we don’t listen to the voice of emotions how do we really know what’s going on? Especially given that we are so good a deceiving ourselves with our brains.
Once we accept that our feelings, even the “bad” ones are really our friends trying to tell us something, we can stop running away with our hands over our ears screaming…”lalalalaaaaa I can’t hear you” when really what were are saying is “Go away! You scare me!”
Once we stop all that nonsense, we can LISTEN without judgement, without defending our Ego, to what those feelings are trying to tell us. Don’t be discouraged if it takes a while (remember time is a factor?) Be patient and listen. Do some art work, or write some words, give your feelings a name, a persona a character. Get to know that person and ask her what she needs. Trust me, this CAN be fun, although it probably won’t be painless. You will survive the pain, I promise, you have survived the pain of repressing those feeling, of denying your true self (remember, we lie to ourselves). You wouldn’t want to lie to someone you love, right? And you certainly wouldn’t want someone you love to lie to you…so what are you doing lying to yourself?
Ha, look what’s happening, you are beginning to develop a relationship with your Self! Go slow, don’t worry if it’s awkward at first. Take your time, be honest and get messy!
Next time: Taking your relationship to the next level (no not that, silly!)
© 2010 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard
Definition of “self” courtesy of http://www.dictionary.com