As a little one, “I feel bad” equals “I am bad.” Perceptually, we were not capable of discerning between feeling and being, a process which is not only tangled for an infant, but a default pathway for each of us in times of emotional activation.
When sadness arises, or rage, jealousy, fear, or confusion, in an instant we turn these very natural human experiences into identity-structures, scramble to make conclusions about what their appearance means (e.g. there is something wrong with me, I’ve failed yet again, etc.), and fall down the rabbit hole of flooding and fusion.
In a moment of activation, we are invited to slow down and open to an embodied journey. This journey will span the territory from “I *am* sad” to “I am aware in this moment that the visitor of sadness has arrived, longing to be known, to be held, as it dances across the layers of my experience – as core beliefs and vulnerabilities, data-filled emotions, intelligence-rich sensations in the body, and unique psychically valuable images evidencing the ways I’ve come to imagine myself, others, and the world.”
By way of this journey, which requires that we infuse our immediate experience with warmth, attention, curiosity, and kindness, we can begin to discover experientially if “I feel bad equals I am bad” is accurate – or whether this lens of perception is ripe for revisioning.
The embodied and compassionate meeting with the figures of the emotional world is not always going to be easy, not always going to feel safe, and will require that we tend to the very valid and very human grief, pain, and uncertainty with a merciful awareness and through befriending ourselves in wild and new ways.
The next event is The Healing Shame Retreat: Spiritual Awakening and Transforming the Core Wound of Unworthiness, April 24-29, 2019 at Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, Colorado, with co-facilitator Jeff Foster