“feelings aren’t facts.” god, i hate that slogan.
if i’ve learned anything in these last five booze-free years of life on this planet as a human being its that feelings are, in fact, factual datum…feedback from the very complex bio-psycho-social ecosystem of who we are. feelings are real, and constitute a portion of the truth of my experience as a human.
what feelings are not, i’ve also come to learn, are invitations to action…necessarily. while my feelings may be cues or clues from parts of me still unknown, my approach to those cues and clues can mean the difference between insanity and serenity. instead of seeing feelings as an absolute, as the pistol shot signaling the commencement of a frantic race to eradicate the feeling by any means necessary, i’m coming to understand that feelings are simply an invitation to the present moment. a come hither finger curl from said parts unknown to just become aware – of where my feet are, of where my head is at. they are a reminder of my humanity, of my existence on this earth, imploring my presence to whatever may arise. and the more i practice becoming still – and, not necessarily in full blown meditation, but just .still. no busy-body tidying-up, no avoidant music listening, no olympic level mental masturbation, just still and aware of what’s up for me- the more not only do i learn about myself, my truth, my experience of reality, but, i find, truly, the less there is for me to actually do.
the more i tune in and allow my feelings to serve as a gentle guide to my experience, the easier i find it to quit being a “human doing” and slide in to the experience of a human being.
to be sure – i can’t steep in anger or wallow in self-pity. but, i’d argue that isn’t good ol’ “feeling feelings” in the purest sense of the phrase anyway. steeping and wallowing is just another style of mental masturbation because these practices include me adding a story, a narrative, an explanation or judgment or justification for the feelings. i don’t need to do any of this. anger, sadness, even self-pity can be valid responses of the human condition. but what can i learn from these feelings – by observing, not wrestling a lesson from the emotional experience – might be a more worthwhile inquiry than, say, “why is this happening to me?” or even “why do i feel this way?” in judgment of whatever it is i am feeling.
no – if i can learn to see the feelings that arise as an invitation to learn about myself, where my values may be situated…if i can find a way to see myself through the emotional experience in a positive, productive way….then maybe, just maybe i don’t have to find a way to avoid these feelings. or rush to judgment of them, and thus action to eradicate them. because another thing i’ve learned is that, umm, sobriety isn’t about being a robot. it isn’t about finding a way to eradicate all uncomfortable human emotion. isn’t that why i drank/smoked/popped pills/binge ate/desperately sought approval from men, women, etc. etc. ? living a sober life, to me, today, is living a life and all that goes along with it. i do not need to hide anymore – from others, or myself. and who doesn’t want to feel seen ?