Transparency of Feelings
Feelings must be witnessed by another to lighten.
Posted Feb 06, 2019
Through the gateway of feeling your weakness lies your strength
Through the gateway of feeling your pain lies your pleasure and joy.
Through the gateway of feeling your fear lies your security and safety.
Through the gateway of feeling your loneliness lies your capacity to have fulfillment, love and companionship.
Through the gateway of feeling your hopelessness lies true and justified hope.
Through the gateway of accepting the lacks in your childhood lies your fulfillment now.
—Eva Pierrakos in The Pathwork of Self Transformation
Linda: Part of the process of being authentic with our partner is to feel feelings and to be transparent, allowing them to see our inner experience. It is especially necessary to contact the messy, ugly feelings that we would really rather not feel. There is a tendency to want to resist the experience of being in touch with these feelings because it may be unpleasant, uncomfortable, and even painful. Because strong emotions are both difficult to feel and embarrassing to admit, some people stay in denial. Others want to bypass them to go straight to forgiveness. Well-meaning friends may say, “Just let it go.” There is an important difference between holding on and preventing the feeling from running its course.
We can’t bypass the anger, rage, disappointment, distrust, fear, and anxiety of the early stage of breakdown. It is an important part of the healing from the breakdown to go into the shock, horror, outrage, or whatever is there to be experienced. Some people fear that if they make space for the shadow part, for example, the feelings of wanting revenge, they might act out and actually cause harm. In fact, the opposite is true. If you acknowledge the shadow, you are less likely to act out. It is only when we acknowledge and feel our feelings that we can move on.
What are some of the reasons we may be holding on? We may be resisting letting the experience play itself out. We may fear that we will be overwhelmed with grief, fear, pain, guilt, or rage, so we short circuit these emotions. There is a natural feeling process that will bring about the healing we need. We do things that inadvertently get in the way of this natural healing process.
Embarrassment: Sometimes people are embarrassed and ashamed when their life isn’t going smoothly. They don’t want anyone to know they are suffering. They keep up the image of having it all together. Underneath, there can be sadness, grief, resentment anger, rage, guilt, shame, fear, and other feelings.
Guilt: It is the nature of the inner guilt-tripper to take a tiny seed of truth and blow it way out of proportion. Left with our own minds and no one to reality test with, we can start to believe that the messages in our mind are the truth. It is seductive to believe the voice in your heads because there may be a kernel of truth to what that voice is saying. But even if there is some truth to our complicity in creating the breakdown, we still do not deserve to suffer endlessly without any self-forgiveness when we bring our guilt to a trustworthy, compassionate confidant. They can bear witness and assist us to lighten our self-castigation. Once some self-forgiveness begins to occur, the heaviness subsides and our resilience is strengthened.
Anger at self: By being caught in a cycle of guilty self-blame, we can be weighted down. The unmerciful lashing from the voices inside our mind about the terrible mistakes we’ve made can keep us from bouncing back. The voices of the inner critic, and the guilt tripper gang up on us. “How could you be so stupid? You created this horrible situation. It’s all your fault. You should have known better. You should have seen it coming. You should have prevented it.”
Anger at Other: The anger, resentment, and rage that we may feel toward others can also weigh us down. Those feelings of being victimized, exploited, lied to or abandoned often prompt feelings of impotent rage and a desire to get revenge. Fantasies of vindictiveness can occupy our minds day and night. Venting our anger can generate more anger, not relieve it. Commiserating with friends can often reinforce our sense of being wronged and violated and further inflame us.
Being caught up in the cycle of anger can make us heavy and bog us down from moving forward. Acknowledging the righteous anger and some constructive expression of it is skillful, but there is a point at which its expression reaches diminishing returns. No one can tell us when that point is. We have to take responsibility for being self-observant and self-aware so that we can see when the experiencing and expression of anger is serving us and when it is keeping us from coming back to our stronger self.
We must not make the mistake of believing that we are stuck with the anger forever. It is workable. The anger can subside, and we can be proactive in the process. Forgiving and letting go are demanding processes, but it is possible with concentrated effort and determination.
We may hold back from letting others see our feelings because we don’t want their pity. Thriving couples have discovered that there is a big difference between pity and compassion. Pity is meeting pain with fear; compassion is meeting pain with love. Feeling and expressing feelings is a key factor in creating intimacy. To be close to another person, there must be a willingness to be in touch with our feelings and be transparent. It can be frightening and overwhelming to do it alone. In the presence of support, we make the unbearable bearable. Feelings do complete themselves if we allow ourselves to feel them.