HOW OUR CULTURE SILENCES OUR FEELINGS

Today I see so much fear in our culture.  We’re afraid to feel, we’re afraid to stand up for what we believe, we’re afraid to speak our truth. We’re afraid to say what we believe is right.  How did we get this way?  

As I reflect on my own behavior and thoughts, I think I’ve dropped into a bit of the complacency of denial and silence because it’s so pervasive.  As I’ve noticed my own disconnection, I have been working with what I need to do to bring back my fierce compassion and courage to keep open to my feelings of fear and outrage.  I am noticing how I disconnect because of my fear and how important it is to use the tools I have learned to help me work with my fear so it can guide me and teach me.

Here’s what I have noticed:  I get fearful when someone I love is in pain, hurt or suffering because I feel that pain myself.  I’m very empathic and this causes me to feel deeply.  That’s a good thing —but it can get me into trouble because I want to move that emotion away instead of just feeling it.  Fear is the tip of the iceberg of the emotions I notice — it creates a gripping inside of my stomach.  In that contraction, I often get stuck because I move too quickly into doing something instead of just being with that feeling and allowing myself to be curious.  I often forget to ask, what other emotions are there behind that fear?  

Check into yourself.  What happens inside of you?  How open are you to what’s around you in the culture?

How do you respond to your own pain?  How to do you respond to others’ pain? 

WORKING WITH FEAR

What is your antidote for fear?  How do you work with your fear?

In my Companion Workbook to A Midlife Voyage to Transformation I write, “Sometimes we need to push ourselves into our fear to realize it is actually holding us back needlessly…when we push into our fear we have to feel it fully in our bodies in a mindful way….Learning to turn towards our fear and to truly be curious about it, is a necessary practice to truly uncover our pain and heal.” (p. 45) 

This month’s practice:  Riding the Waves of Big Feelings can help you explore more about your own fear and how to listen and allow the other feelings to be there as well.  

Environmental activist and author, Joanna Macy, in the OnBeing Podcast this year said, “If we can be fearless to be with our pain, it will turn.  It doesn’t stay static.  It only doesn’t change if we refuse to look at it. But when we look at fear, when we take it into our hands, just be with it and keep breathing…then it turns. It turns to reveal its other face, our pain’s other face which is our love for the world, for humanity, and for ourselves.:  What we cherish most inside of us is what our fear can show us….when we get closer to it.

This is the way that we flow into self-compassion and back out into the world.  We love the world but we also have to love ourselves because we are part of this world.   Joanna’s message requires that we experience self-compassion deeply so that we can hold our fear too.  I find that my antidote for fear is self-compassion.

When I feel fearful I try to identify that fear as it shows up in my body and notice that I need to slow down my mind immediately or I go into stories and that causes problems for me and for all of us.  So, I sit and meditate and allow my practice to create a self-soothing and loving container for me to be with everything that is here.  When I have sat for at least 30 minutes, often more, I feel freer and more open, and the contraction around my fear and feelings has dissipated.  I often give myself loving kindness phrases and comforting words before I leave my cushion.  

I hope that will explore ways to face  your fears and the deeper feelings underneath the fear as they come up.  This way, when something big happens in your life, or in our world, you will have some track record and a game plan for what works for you.  If we are all working with being more connected to ourselves and our feelings, we can begin to connect more with each other and face together the challenges of our lives on this Earth.  I hope you will join me.

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