Thursday, February 2, 2012

Go Ahead And Smell Your Shit

Lately I've been thinking again about the importance of being honest with your feelings, including the so-called negative ones. Sometimes we can be in situations where it is expected of us - either stated or covertly implied - to have a smile on our face, to be cheery, to always look on the sunny side of life. In these situations, or when in the company of certain people, feelings like anger, sadness, loneliness and fear are not permitted. And if you do display one or more of these feelings, there is a problem with you. Sometimes we learn not to show these feelings from a very early age, and sometimes there are certain religious settings where everyone is so nice it's like everyone is on a tranquilizer.

And you know what? Sometimes it is necessary to "pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off." Sometimes we are not in a safe place or with safe people to express our "darker" emotions. And of course I'm not advocating that we go around shouting at everyone 7 days a week.

But I believe those darker emotions must be felt, and that they can even be a teacher.

Pema Chodron, the American Buddhist nun speaks of this in her book When Things Fall Apart.
"Hope and fear come from feeling that we lack something; they come from a sense of poverty. We can't simply relax with ourselves. We hold on to hope, and hope robs us of the present moment. We feel that someone else knows what's going on, but that there's something missing in us, and therefore something is lacking in our world. Rather than letting our negativity get the better of us, we could acknowledge that right now we feel like a piece of shit and not be squeamish about taking a good look. That's the compassionate thing to do. That's the brave thing to do. We could smell that piece of shit. We could feel it; what is its texture, color, and shape? We can explore the nature of that piece of shit. We can know the nature of dislike, shame, and embarrassment (and I would add anger, sadness, and fear) and not believe there's something wrong with that. We can drop the fundamental hope that there is a better "me" who one day will emerge. We can't just jump over ourselves as if we were not there. It's better to take a straight look at all our hopes and fears. Then some kind of confidence in our basic sanity arises."
Sometimes being real with our closest friend(s) does the job. Other times our sadness becomes major depression, our anger becomes rage, and we need a skilled therapist to guide us through our feelings.

I guess my message today is that it's okay to feel these things. It's part of this life, and if we stop running away from these feelings, we may just learn something and we'll be the better for it.

Love and peace to today...unless you're having a
really shitty day. ;)