Part II: Reality
I did not know how I felt. I was the definition of unaware. For some reason when I was very young I learned to suppress my emotions so deeply I was unaware of them. This is the nature of the unconscious. A disconnection for whatever reason between thinking and feeling. I will remind you here that I am not a counselor and have no academic standing to share. Feel free to consider me a case study and nothing more. Remember, life is hard because no two people experience it the same way. There is no one right path to wholeness and the job is never actually finished. If it may seem to help on your journey, give it a try, if not, find another way.
Like I said, I was unaware of some of my emotions. My experience from that created my belief that the first essential element in becoming aware is to recognize and feel our feelings. I remember when I first started the journey many years ago and someone close to me asked, “Did I do something? You seem upset?” My response at the time was, “I really don’t know what I’m feeling but if you ask me again I’ll gladly blame it on you.” Yes, that was as close to authentic as I could be in the moment.
For this journey, we can’t dismiss the reality that much of our lives are based in imaginary scenarios. Sometimes there is an expectation or maybe a dream scenario in how we thought a conversation or relationship or situation would go. Don’t even try to tell me you’ve never had an argument with someone in your head who wasn’t actually present. I won’t believe you. And I bet you were beautifully fluent and convincing and had all the pieces right and they were full of BS, right?
Reality steps in and blows it all to pieces, but if we don’t recognize those internal desires and allow room to grieve what we wanted, the recipe goes bad. It’s hard to explain but say you wanted A but got B. That is the key moment to experience the emotion that rises up. Disappointment, sadness, confusion, whatever it is. When I missed those key moments, a deep well of emotions started to develop and sadly colored every interaction I had after. Triggered. This is one of the places in which unconscious thoughts develop. The ability to live with B is deeply hindered when A hasn’t been grieved. If you don’t miss that step, you can let go of A and face B.
To make it more complicated, when you start to feel the emotions of life but have an unconscious full of old ones, there is an additional requirement to question our feelings. Because what if those old ones have piled up and filled you with core beliefs that are patently untrue? You may attempt to sit down and cry a little river to heal and come up against not only a condemning inner voice, but a set of core beliefs that you aren’t even aware of.
“I never get what I want.” Or “No one sees my value.” Or “I am a waste of human flesh.” These are usually recognizable because they come in ridiculous extremes but must be heard and questioned to be dismissed. These are just a few reasons for bringing the unconscious conscious and the path goes right through the heart of emotions.
And by the way, it is not a one time deal anymore than it’s one size fits all. It is a way of being. It’s necessary in the midst of all the normal stresses of life and all the people around you dealing (or not) with their own voices. Who are you? Is it who you claim to be or someone else?
“There is something in everyone of you that waits, listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself and if you can not hear it, you will never find whatever it is for which you are searching and if you hear it and then do not follow it, it was better that you had never been born. . . .
Sometimes there is so much traffic going on in your minds, so many different kinds of signals . . . and you are buffeted by these and in the midst of all of this you have got to find out what your name is. Who are you? . . .
Now there is something in everybody that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in other people. . . . I must wait and listen for the sound of the genuine in you. . .
Now if I hear the sound of the genuine in me and if you hear the sound of the genuine in you it is possible for me to go down in me and come up in you. So that when I look at myself through your eyes having made that pilgrimage, I see in me what you see in me and the wall that separates and divides will disappear and we will become one because the sound of the genuine makes the same music.”
Howard Thurman (1900–1981)