Friday, January 7, 2011
Dealing with Feelings
I was watching "The Buddha" last night and was reminded, yet again, of how difficult it truly is to allow yourself to be fully human. And what makes us human? Really, it's the range of emotions we feel. Life is a struggle of coping with our own feelings. Alcoholism or addiction is merely the hallmark of a person who has never learned to cope effectively with feelings.
We're taught as children that our feelings are "bad." Don't get angry, don't cry, buck up, grin and bear it. So many people learn to stuff everything they feel, or lambast themselves for feeling a way they don't want to feel.
Sobriety has taught me that stuffing feelings, bucking up, acting like you don't feel something when you do, and the like, are the things that make me drink. Feelings are not facts; they're just feelings. Even the Buddha felt sad or felt despair. It is the human condition. We all suffer.
Feelings must be endured. Acknowledge them, acknowledge where they come from, and little by little they lose their power. A fresh hurt is like a burn--extremely painful. But you don't ignore a burn; you treat it. Eventually it gets better. So, too, with feelings. You treat feelings by allowing yourself the humanity of experiencing them. If you must act on them, you try to do so in a constructive manner. Many times, just vocalizing how you feel is enough to take away a feeling's power.
We err when we try to convince ourselves we don't feel a certain way or that we shouldn't feel a certain way. We attach judgments to our feelings (right, wrong, bad, good) and that is a mistake.
Learning to live with your feelings brings you to a place of accepting reality for what it is. You ride with the tide instead of against it. One of the biggest things to accept is the transience of everything. All things come to an end. Things run their course; people change; we get old; tasks are completed; people die; we die. Nothing lasts or stays the same forever. Everything in life is impermanent.
So where can joy be found? Only in the here and now. Marvel in life's daily miracles. Live in the moment. Be conscious of the moment. Appreciate and enjoy what you have while you have it. Acknowledging that it's temporary will only make you value it all the more.
Thus, everything is as precious as a porcelain vase.