When we talk about bringing awareness to our sadness, rage, fear, or shame, it's important to approach this inquiry with beginner's mind, to not assume, "Oh, I've done that. I am totally aware of my anger. Believe me! I've been angry for years."
We have to be willing to get more subtle and nuanced with this as what is appearing in any given moment is completely fresh, naked, and alive, arising for the first time and filled with information. There is intelligence inside our symptoms, buried in our feelings, but it requires us to slow down, and to momentarily replace the need for relief with that of curiosity.
Often it can appear that we are in touch with our emotional world, but if we look carefully, we might discover that in large part we are in touch with our interpretations about our emotions, in a way orbiting around them, staying clear of their energetic core. This is not evidence we have failed, but a reflection of the intelligence of an earlier time, when we did not have the capacity to infuse overwhelming emotion and anxiety with presence, holding, and space.
The next time you find yourself a bit thrown off center, triggered, activated, hooked, or caught in a loop, you could just consciously slow down. Pause. Recognize what has happened and clarify your intention to care for yourself in a new way. In this one moment of choosing an alternative pathway, new circuitry is encoded. In this one moment, end the trance of self-abandonment.
It can help to start in your body and make contact with the actual raw sensations that are there, often most alive in your belly, heart, or throat. To set aside all interpretation for now, including even the agenda to understand, change, shift, or heal. You can return to interpretation and explore meaning at a later time, from a more grounded, soothed place.
Notice the deeply rooted urge to leave your experience to go back into interpretation. It feels safer there, in some way, to turn from the fire and orbit around the aliveness. You have to discover for yourself if this is true, if abandoning your immediate, embodied experience is truly safe. Don’t take anyone’s word for this. Use your body as a crucible and send breath, life, awareness, and care inside the core of your feelings, and see.
But the first step is to slow down. Recognize you are caught and make the intention to care for yourself in what might be a new way, by coming closer. It may appear that these feelings and emotions are coming at you from the outside, to harm you, as obstacles along the way. Things are not always as they seem.
Art by Helen Klebesadel