I once believed that to be healthy I needed to feel my feelings which (for me) meant spiraling into grief, anger and fear for “appropriate” lengths of time in order to let go ofthese old emotions from childhood. However, once I recognized that it’s the stories I run that generate these unhappy feelings, it no longer made sense to me to indulge them.
Here’s what I’ve noticed happens …
When I allow the story to run, big external reaction follows – I have temper tantrums … feel justified in my unhappiness (after all “they” did it to me) or sull up and torture myself with negative projections on everyone around me — “He shouldn’t have said that to me – obviously he doesn’t care” or “Life is SO hard – I NEVER get what I want” …. or “Who would really want to be with someone like me?”
THIS sort of self talk is us being unkind to ourselves. It is self abuse through mental torture. And most of us do it all the time.
Right relationship with self starts in becoming conscious at this basic level of how we treat ourselves. Then we initiate self interaction (inner-action) that reflects the same love and respect we want from others. Indulging an un-investigated story that has me “wallowing in upset” is NOT kind OR effective. That has been my experience anyway.
Seeing it this way leaves me with no desire to feel feelings of pain and suffering. When I feel down; resentful, guilty or anxious … I immediately ask … “What am I believing right now that brings this feeling?” I then use the feeling to “spot locate” the thought behind it. Sometimes it does take me back to childhood and that’s good. I may need to go there in order to find the story I’m believing. I may need to spend time talking to my inner child about her uninformed version of what happened back then … in order to gently, lovingly inquire about it’s veracity. When I encounter this scared little girl, I bring the four questions, “Is that true?” etc… Meeting her with those makes it possible to bring her back into a kinder perception of the world; helps her see that it was only her own “boogie man” stories that was keeping her in angst and fear; sadness and resentment …. This is the practice of self-forgiveness..
Every story I find offers me a doorway to more freedom through inquiry.
I am blessed and SO grateful. Thank you, Katie Byron for your clearly formulated and concise process of inquiry.