The next time something does not go the way you wanted it to, or just when you are feeling low, ask yourself how old you are feeling. What you might find is that you are feeling like a bad little girl, a bad little boy, and that you must have done something wrong because it feels like you are being punished.
Just because it feels like you are being punished does not mean that is the Truth. Feelings are real - they are emotional energy that is manifested in our body - but they are not necessarily fact.
What we feel is our "emotional truth" and it does not necessarily have anything to do with either facts or the emotional energy that is Truth with a capital "T" - especially when we our reacting out of an age of our inner child.
If we are reacting out of what our emotional truth was when we were five or nine or fourteen, then we are not capable of responding appropriately to what is happening in the moment; we are not being in the now.
When we are reacting out of old tapes based on attitudes and beliefs that are false or distorted, then our feelings cannot be trusted.
Quote from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls
Another benefit of releasing the suppressed energy, of doing the deep grieving, is that often it is only in during the grieving that we get in touch with subconscious programming that is dictating some aspect of our relationship with life. Attitudes we adapted in childhood - sometimes promises we made to ourselves - are included in that subconscious programming, and can have great power which we cannot overcome until we get in touch with them.
In the first long term relationship (long term for me being 2 years) I got into in recovery, I realized that setting a boundary in an intimate relationship felt to me like I was being a perpetrator. My role models in childhood presented me with two options for behavior in a romantic relationship - a self sacrificing martyr with no boundaries, and a raging verbally abusive perpetrator. I hated the pain caused by the perpetrator, so I became a martyr who did not know how to set boundaries. Setting boundaries for me, with my significant other, felt like I was being abusive.
It was only when I got aware of this programming that I could start changing it. A great example of how this works is the brief case study that I shared in my series on the True Nature of Love.
"We cannot get clearly in touch with the subconscious programming without doing the grief work. The subconscious intellectual programming is tied to the emotional wounds we suffered and many years of suppressing those feelings has also buried the attitudes, definitions, and beliefs that are connected to those emotional wounds. It is possible to get intellectually aware of some of them through such tools as hypnosis, or having a therapist or psychic or energy healer tell us they are there - but we cannot really understand how much power they carry without feeling the emotional context - and cannot change them without reducing the emotional charge / releasing the emotional energy tied to them. Knowing they are there will not make them go away.
A good example of how this works is a man that I worked with some years ago. He came to me in emotional agony because his wife was leaving him. He was adamant that he did not want a divorce and kept saying how much he loved his wife and how he could not stand to lose his family (he had a daughter about 4.) I told him the first day he came in that the pain he was suffering did not really have that much to do with his wife and present situation - but was rooted in some attitude from his childhood. But that did not mean anything to him on a practical level, on a level of being able to let go of the attitude that was causing him so much pain. It was only while doing his childhood grief work that he got in touch with the pain of his parents divorce when he was 10 years old. In the midst of doing that grief work the memory of promising himself that he would never get a divorce, and cause his child the kind of pain he was experiencing, surfaced. Once he had gotten in touch with, and released, the emotional charge connected to the idea of divorce, he was able to look at his present situation more clearly. Then he could see that the marriage had never been a good one - that he had sacrificed himself and his own needs from the beginning to comply with his dream / concept of what a marriage should be. He could then see that staying in the marriage was not serving him or his daughter. Once he got past the promise he made to himself in childhood, he was able to let go of his wife and start building a solid relationship with his daughter based on the reality of today instead of the grief of the past.
It was the idea / concept of his wife, of marriage, that he had been unable to let go of - not the actual person. By changing his intellectual concept / belief, he was able to get clear on what the reality of the situation was and sever the emotional energy chains / cords that bound him to the situation and to his wife. He was then able to let go of giving away power over his self-esteem (part of his self-esteem was based on keeping his promise to himself) to a situation / person that he could not control. He gained the wisdom / clarity to discern the difference between what he had some power to change and what he needed to accept. He could not change his wife's determination to get a divorce but he could change his attitude toward that divorce - once he changed the subconscious emotional programming connected to the concept.
It is letting go of the dream, the idea / concept, of the relationship that causes the most grief in every relationship break up that I have ever worked with." - The True Nature of Love - part 4, Energetic Clarity
There is also a shallower level of grieving, that is just about owning our sadness.
"It was on Christmas Day in 1987 that I got clear on something that I hadn't really realized before in relationship to my emotional process.
I was consciously grieving by that time - by which I mean that I was owning my sadness. One of the ways that I had controlled and contained my emotions was to analyze them. It had not been ok for me to feel feelings until I understood where they were coming from, what they were attached to - so I kept the feelings at bay by intellectualizing about them. I would analyze and rationalize, and then when I had figured out that I indeed had a good enough reason to feel something, I would allow myself a few moments of feeling - maybe do some writing about it - and then think I was done with it. My issues were like boxes of old news that I looked through briefly and then put on the shelf thinking I had dealt with them sufficiently. The later part of 1987 was when the boxes started falling off the shelf and smacking me upside the head.
By Christmas of 87 I had gotten far enough along in my process to just allow myself to feel sad. I no longer bought into the fallacy that I had to know specifically what I was sad about. I would say to myself; "I feel sad. I have plenty of reason to feel sad. It is OK to feel sad."
I was doing what I had never known how to do before - just being with the feelings. I had always done something to try to escape the feelings, it was a very important step for me to just allow myself to feel them - to own them and know that they were mine and I had, not only a right, but an obligation to just feel them.
I was doing the shallower level of grieving at that point. It wasn't the deep grieving with crying and sobbing - it was just about feeling sad and allowing myself to feel that sadness.
On Christmas Day that year, I went to various AA meetings and to some open houses - both at people's homes and AA club houses. What I realized as I went through the day was that I was feeling more than one feeling at the same time. The feeling of sadness was there throughout the day, kind of an emotional blanket over the day. But when I saw people I cared about I was happy. I had many moments that day when I felt gratitude.
I really got clear on the reality that I could feel more than one feeling at once - a startling revelation at that point. It had been a long hard struggle just to get in touch with feelings as energy in my body, now I realized that I could feel several different types of these emotional energies at once. I could feel sad and grateful and happy all at the same time.
I had for some time been working on changing my perspective on my feelings. Telling myself that feeling the feelings was the goal and that I was grateful that I was capable of feeling miserable. By working on changing my attitudes towards my feelings I had started changing my relationship with them. I had begun to embrace my feelings instead of resisting and repressing them.
It was of course, easier to embrace the shallower level of grief than it was the deeply buried pain and rage that was soon to start surfacing - but it was definite progress. When I had first gotten sober, I had noticed a saying on some bumper stickers or wall hanging or someplace. That saying was "The pain is mandatory, the suffering is optional." What I was really beginning to realize at this point in my process was that the suffering came about because of resistance to feeling the pain - and anger and fear. By changing my attitudes, I was changing my perspective and giving myself permission to feel the feelings. I was starting to allow them to flow instead of putting all my energy into damming them, suppressing them. That is where the suffering really comes from - denying my own emotional reality.
So, I was feeling the grief and doing some of what I thought of then as crying. At that time, crying to me meant tearing up. When I teared up and my voice cracked with emotion I considered that crying. Although I had done some deep grieving earlier in my recovery (the article on Grief, Love, and Fear of Intimacy, and the instance with the song from childhood) I wasn't at that time thinking of doing that kind of CRYING as a goal of the process. I was still trying to avoid going into the depths of my feelings.
I think the main issue that I was grieving about as 87 ended and 88 began was being alone. I had felt so alone as a child - and because of my wounds, I had spent most of my adult life alone. - Joy2MeU Journal - My Spiritual Path: 30 Days in the Desert - Falling Apart and Breaking Through II
Many people when they first start to feel the grief, will say they are feeling depressed. What we call things has power - and it is important to start owning that we are involved in a healthy grieving process instead of the victim of depression.
Depression and grieving are two very different dynamics. Depression is an emotional state caused by anger that has been turned in on ourselves because of mental attitudes empowering the false belief that it is shameful to be an imperfect human. Owning our feelings by doing the grief work - especially the anger and rage portion of the grieving - is the way out of depression. Changing our relationship with life into one which defines life as a growth process with a Spiritual purpose rather than a test we can fail because we are flawed and imperfect, is a very large step towards starting to emerge from depression.
Just being able to say to ourselves (not necessarily to other people unless they are safe people to share with) "I am sad. I have good reasons to be sad. It is not only okay to be sad, it is healthy and part of owning my self to grieve for how painful my life experience has been."
Owning our feelings is the only way to own our self. Owning and healing our self is the gateway to reconnecting with our Spiritual Self so that we can starting owning the Unconditional Love that is available to us. So that we can change our relationship with self into one that is based upon Love instead of shame about being human.
It is necessary to own and honor the child who we were in order to Love the person we are. And the only way to do that is to own that child's experiences, honor that child's feelings, and release the emotional grief energy that we are still carrying around.
Quote from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls