Feelings are not the enemy

“When you name a feeling it increases your brains ability to deal with it.” Henry Cloud.

I have high praise for the truth tellers amongst us. Why? Because I live in a world that seems to obstruct and repress feelings and the expression of them, at every turn. I might live in a society where everyone has the right to freedom of expression and opinion. But not everyone has been actively encouraged to develop it or nurture their inner life. Maybe they don’t know how to. Maybe they’ve been idle. Maybe they’ve been beaten down or shamed. King David wrote the ultimate guide to expressing the full range of human emotion in the Psalter. He wrote some of the Psalms from a cave of persecution. And, he didn’t get into that cave alone. Others helped to put him there.

It takes courage to identify and express what you’re feeling when it’s unpopular. Social media has made it easy to hide behind other people’s posts and articles, ideas and opinions. Raising awareness is good but not at the cost of developing and voicing your own feelings and thoughts. Sometimes you have to take your own personal convicted stand. Your voice matters.  Your feelings matter.  Your truth matters.

If you were actively encouraged to not feel, or to shut down your feelings, for whatever reason, this poem is for you. If you’re a man who benefited from patriarchy but you live with a closed, imprisoned or armored heart this poem is for you. If you have unfelt emotions and you don’t know what to do with them this poem is for you.

There is great dignity and freedom in feeling and expressing our feelings. Don’t let anyone tell you different. I will follow this post up with a comprehensive list of feeling words.

You can’t get ‘over’ a feeling
You can’t get ‘past’ it
You can’t ‘release’ it
You can’t ‘let go’ of it
You can’t transform or transmute it
You can’t even ‘heal’ it.

All these ideas come from the mind,
not the body, not the Heart

They are all subtle forms of violence
sneaky ways of saying ‘no’ to a feeling,
aiming for its disappearance,
its death.

We learn to let go of ‘letting go’
We stop trying to release
We end the exhausting effort to heal

Instead, we are present
We offer a feeling our simple presence
Our non-resistant attention
Our love

Here’s the good news
In this field of presence
the feeling is no longer a problem,
an enemy, an aberration, a stain,
a block to freedom.

It is no longer ‘something wrong’
It is no longer ‘negative’
It is no longer a threat
it is no longer an unwanted child.

You are now its guardian, its protector
its loving parent, its home

And held lightly, in a still space of allowing,
the feeling stays for a while, or moves on,
or returns,
or never returns
but either way,
you are held from the need
to find healing elsewhere.

You do not heal feelings, you see,
they heal you, when you allow them
to guide you back
to your original wholeness,
your loving nature,
your breath,
your place on this Earth.

Poem by Jeff Foster.

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