Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Scoping It Out
Let's start with this... it's been on my mind since a discussion I had with some friends the other day. We tend to compartmentalize our feelings. We barely acknowledge them, if at all, before we stuff them into a box and call it done. I'm talking about good and bad feelings here, both the light and the dark. When something makes us happy, we pretty much say, "Yay. I'm happy." We don't bother to put it under the microscope to find out what about it is making us happy, much less how we nurture it and keep it on a continuous loop.
When something dark rears its head, we get all squeamish, say, "Oh. Icky." And we stuff it away. For some reason we've been suckled on the notion that bad feelings are... well... bad. While the way we react to those feelings might be bad, the feelings themselves are not. It's all in how we choose to use them. Yes, that decision is ours. Let me tell you, some of the best work I've done has come from some of the darkest, "ickiest" feelings I've had.
Here's the thing. First and foremost, we have to acknowledge the feelings. We have to somehow find the bravery to say, "Hello. I see you." But there's more to it than just saying, "I feel sad," then pushing it away because for some totally fubar reason it's not acceptable in our society to have any feeling other than happy, positive thoughts. I say, fuck that noise. Embrace the sadness (or whatever so-called dark emotion is trying to claw its way to the top), find out what it's all about.
Take some time. Look at it from every angle. It's not always easy to pinpoint an emotion, and it often seems impossibly difficult to define it. When I get those inexplicable feelings, I try to write them out. It's just what works for me. I start a sentence that can be modified, such as, "I feel sad because..." Then, just like a little kid who won't give up until they have an answer, I ask, "Because why?" "I feel sad because I don't think my friends understand me." "Why do you think that? What can you do about it?" Keep asking yourself the why's and what's until you get an answer that you're satisfied with. Then you can put the shit in a box and file it away. Only then. Sometimes you don't even need to do that. Sometimes it dissipates, as if by magic. After all, once you've taken away its scary power it has no more weight.
Figuring out why something makes us feel good can lead to entirely different lives for us... which is why figuring out good stuff can be scary too. For example, the more I made cards, the more I realized I felt most at peace when I was doing that work. I felt happiest with ink on my hands. For a long time I didn't acknowledge that feeling because I knew that once I did, it would beg for change. Big change. Staring at that feeling of happiness led me to staring at some pretty sizable feelings of fear. Once I stared down the fear, I realized that I really had nothing to lose. I was giving all of it a lot more power than was warranted.
My point here is that if I had stuffed all of that away, I'd still be in a completely unrewarding, unfulfilling job as an accountant. Bleh.
We need to take the time to find out what makes us tick and why. Knowing ourselves well gives us better insight into others, and better ability to handle the differences. That kind of enlightenment is what makes a peaceful life all around.
No more boxes and no more boxing at shadows.
Posted by Barb Black at 9:02:00 AM