Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

Connecting with The Holy, Step One: Getting in Touch with Our True Feelings October 15, 2013

Yin and Yang

Yin and Yang

“Thinking noble thoughts does not connect us with the Holy; only the ability to feel love for ourselves and others does that.”

–Jean Raffa

I recently posted this quote from Healing the Sacred Divide on Twitter and received the following comment from Amrita.  “Yes, over the years of introspection, I have [come to understand] that in order to know the whole one needs to know the dark as well…to know positive , one must be aware of the negative and one must not act negative as it would amount to bad karma.  The whole self-help industry talks about being positive but it doesn’t explain all the mysteries. Do explain it in your blog…”

There are so many dimensions to this issue that I could write books about it. But I’ll try to distill it into two posts by going straight to the core (or coeur) of the matter: the heart.  I’m reminded of the saying, “You can pretend to care, but you can’t pretend to show up.”  The mysteries are not about pretending to love and care:  they’re about feeling and manifesting love and care. Feeling and being are key.

Humanity has always intuited that the mysteries revolve around love. Loving feelings are prayers from which everything good flows. Tenderness, kindness, healing, peace. Compassion. Choices to forgive, set aside hurt and anger, sacrifice our ego’s need for revenge so others won’t get hurt: these are choices to love.

Using self-discipline, will power and positive affirmations and intentions to be more loving is, of course, a step in the right direction. But mental activity without physical and emotional participation is not enough. Sometimes it’s just a band-aid the ego sticks on the surface of a wound to avoid dealing with deeper, more painful realities. Every ego experiences wounding, and we all try to protect ourselves by repressing, disowning, ignoring or escaping. But until our psychic wounds are addressed and healed, the pain always oozes back into our awareness.  Sometimes it’s so overwhelming that our mental discipline crumbles and our positive affirmations have no effect at all.

“In the realm of feeling…Western man is apt to be the puppet of his unconscious moods.”

–M. Esther Harding

We tell ourselves to blow off someone’s unkind words, but our vulnerable, innocent child within thinks, “What did I do?” and we start feeling hurt and sad.  If we don’t catch those feelings right away, we move on to feeling wronged and resentful.  We think, “I don’t deserve to be treated this way!” and now we’re really angry.  Saying we love the person who elicited this response doesn’t make the anger go away and they can feel it whether we admit to it or not.  If we’re not feeling love and they’re not feeling lovable, no one is convinced.

Or we knock ourselves out trying to look fabulous and act adorable and pleasing so we’ll be loveable and loved. But this takes a lot of work that uses up a psychological energy. When there’s no energy left we let down our guard; then the least little thing sets us off.  Resentment and pettiness and self-loathing creep in, and the attitudes and actions that spew out into the world have nothing to do with love.

Unloving feelings that destroy our resolve to love are aspects of the unhealed and disowned parts of ourselves we call our dark shadow. When the shadow walks in the door, positive thoughts and will power fly out the window and the results are utterly predictable.  Toxic feelings from unhealed wounds birth toxic behaviors.  That’s just the way we’re made.

This is why getting in touch with our true feelings is the first step to connecting with the Holy.  I’ll discuss the second step next time.

You can find Healing the Sacred Divide at this Amazon link and at Larson Publications, Inc.

 

Gender Wounds: Feelings and Emotions February 12, 2013

emotionsWe’ve all heard people say that men are out of touch with their feelings and women are too emotional. Are these observations true or are they stereotypes? If they’re true, then why? When we try to answer these questions we face the problem of not being sure what we really mean when we use the words emotions and feelings. In my effort to raise more awareness about gender wounds, I’d like to begin by clarifying these terms.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines feeling as 1. The sensation involving perception by touch. 2. An affective state of consciousness, such as that resulting from emotions, sentiments or desires. 3. An awareness; impression. 4.a. An emotional state or disposition; emotion. b. A tender emotion; fondness. 5.a. The ability to experience and react to the emotions; sensibility. b. feelings. Sensitivities; hurt his feelings. 6. Opinion as distinguished from reason; sentiment. 7. An impression produced by a person, place, thing, or event. 8: An appreciative regard.

Emotion is defined as 1. A complex and usually strong subjective response, as love or fear. 2. A state of agitation or disturbance. 3. The part of the consciousness that involves feeling or sensibility, as in a choice determined by emotion rather than reason.

As these definitions show, sometimes we use the word feeling to mean an emotional state or emotion. At other times we mean sensitivity. And sometimes we mean the ability to experience and react to our emotions, or sensibility. The word sensibility seems key to this discussion. Two definitions that apply are 1. The ability to feel or perceive, and 2. Mental or emotional responsiveness toward something, as the feelings of another; being sympathetic.

Everyone feels and everyone has emotions. Yet attitudes toward emotions seem to differ between men and women. Recently a male friend half-jokingly voiced the common criticism that women are too emotional. People sometimes cite Myers-Briggs data to support this belief, but the Thinking (T) and Feeling (F) indicators are about how we organize information to make choices, not judgments about whether we’re overly emotional. The data simply indicate that the majority of women (75.5%) prefer to make decisions in a personal, values-based, emotional way (F), whereas men (56.5%) prefer to decide in a logical, objective, unemotional way (T). Is there something inherently “wrong” or undesirable about either of these positions? Is women’s preference for subjective value a feminine wound? Is men’s preference for objective logic a masculine wound? Or are both preferences appropriate in differing ways and situations?

Later in the conversation my friend mentioned being angry about something in the news, so I said, “You’re angry about a lot of things, aren’t you?” “Yes,” he readily admitted. When I responded, “Anger’s an emotion, isn’t it? So aren’t you being emotional too?” he was quite surprised. He said he’d never really thought of his anger as being emotional! Yet teachers and students alike often report that boys are more prone to being agitated and creating disturbances, i.e. being more emotional, than girls. Why hadn’t he recognized his own emotionalism? Why did he project “being emotional” onto women?

In summarizing what I’ve said so far, I find five areas for discussion: 1) What do women mean when they say men are out of touch with their feelings? 2) What do men mean when they say women are too emotional? 3) If everyone has feelings and emotions, why might women experience and react to their emotions, i.e. have more sensibility to emotions, and men have less? 4) Why do we perceive emotional differences between the genders in terms of “good” and “bad” stereotypes? 5) How can we overcome damaging gender stereotypes?

I’ll share my thoughts about these questions next time. Meanwhile, I’d love to know yours.

 

 
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