The Temptation to Bury Difficult Feelings
In my first podcast I had the opportunity to speak with the fantastic mindfulness therapist, Dr. Gail Brenner. She discussed the value of remaining truly connected to your “inner environment.” She feels that the more you are able to identify and stay with your feelings the more you will know about yourself and your relationships.
She acknowledged that this is not always easy. Often you may have difficult feelings that are so painful that the thought of “staying with them” would feel like torture. Every time they come up you may feel re-traumatized by these feelings and potentially some event that you would sooner forget altogether.
So…you learn to hold the difficult feelings down - to bury them. But as time has passed you have likely seen that they don’t stay buried. They eventually find their way back to your consciousness. And when they do, they come back as though it was just yesterday. Nothing has changed. It’s the same old feelings “making” you feel the same old ways. And you are right. If we try to bury these feelings, this is exactly the way we will experience them, for a long ... long ... time.
Effective Ways to Handle Difficult Feelings
So what are your options? The feelings are too painful to bear and yet burying them doesn’t work either. This is where the Oneness Approach comes in. There is a resilience, an ability to look at something and yet maintain a healthy distance, that can be learned. When something feels “too painful to bear” it means that you lose your ability to remain aligned. Another way to say this is that your Conscious and Subconscious Mind fall out of alignment. Yet another way to say this is that your Conscious Mind, the only part of you that you are directly aware of, goes at it alone - unsupported. Internally, this makes everything seems larger than you and scary.
This is why the Oneness Approach provides exercises such as the “Thirty Day Challenge” that grow your Conscious and Subconscious connections. This allows the growth of more neuronal fibers to keep you in touch with your feelings every day. This also builds the processing power you need to keep things around you in the understandable and workable range. Just this practice helps you feel more comfortable in your own skin. Not because anything around you has changed but rather, because you know you are more comfortable handling anything that may come up.
Creating a Safe Environment
But, let’s go back to the pain you feel when you “bring up” those old memories or when a panic attack hits again. It can be scary to even think of “staying with” these difficult feelings, even with a more comfortable sense of self. Here is where another power of the Subconscious Mind comes in. There are “mirror neurons” that you have that help you “feel into” how another is feeling. If something is going on in your child’s or best friend’s life, you simply “sense” that something is off. That sense is your “mirror neurons” copying the mental processing of the person you are look at. You truly are “feeling into” them. This is empathy.
There is another function of these “mirror neurons.” They not only help you to know how another is feeling, they allow you to project a feeling into another. This is particularly clear when someone is trying to project an unwanted uncomfortable feeling into you. But it is at least just as true when someone is lending you their mental sense of well-being. This is called compassion. You not only have empathy for someone but you actively project a desire to help…and so you do.
A therapist, a parent or a best friend creates a holding environment for you to bear the pain with greater resilience. You have a greater ability to remain aligned, remain in Oneness and so process the pain that has frightened you for so long. As you “stay with” the pain, you come to see it for what it is - and you come to see that it is not a part of who you are. You become more able to see it as yet another passing and now past part of your life. You begin to put it into perspective, and with your increased processing power you learn how add this information to your repertoire making you safer, stronger, more resilient, and maybe even inspiring!
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