In previous articles, I have discussed intrusive feelings (see the article, Intrusive Feelings), where these feelings come from (see Early Trauma Feelings: What We Don’t Remember Can Hurt Us), how avoiding these feelings hurts us (see How We Avoid Our Trauma Feelings Can Also Hurt Us), and how to let go of our defenses (see Relinquishing Ways We Avoid Our Feelings (Defenses) That Hurt Us). In this article, I discuss how relating to our feelings from a wise, compassionate perspective resolves and heals intrusive feelings.
The more we bring our presence to the intrusive feelings with wisdom and compassion for ourselves rather than avoid them, the more they desensitize, heal, and resolve. Bringing our presence to intrusive feelings involves attending to and experiencing the feelings on an emotional level rather than on an intellectual level. It is emotional experiencing rather than intellectual insight that heals.
I would like to introduce a brief exercise I call the “Heart Ritual” that I believe helps us relate to intrusive feelings from a wise, compassionate perspective. Any time we feel distressing feelings, we close our eyes, focus our attention inside on the feelings, and slowly tell ourselves a number of times, “These are old feelings. I don’t deserve to feel _________ (insert whatever words symbolize the feelings – such as scared, bad, and pain). I am safe now”. Practicing this ritual helps us to tolerate intrusive trauma feelings rather than to avoid them, and gradually to heal them.
Stan, a single, middle aged, accountant, experienced intrusive, painful, feelings of shame and humiliation. As Stan made a conscious effort to bring his presence to these feelings and to relate to them from a wise, compassionate perspective, the intensity of his anxiety, shame, and pain began to diminish and his mood began to improve. For a full description of Stan’s story, see the clinical case, Individual Experiencing Anxiety and Shame.
Dan, a 29 year old, married man in the high tech sector, experienced intrusive feelings of anxiety and emotional pain (loneliness). As Dan made a conscious effort to bring his presence to these feelings and to relate to them from a wise, compassionate perspective, the intensity of his anxiety and pain (loneliness) began to diminish and he experienced more control over his sexual behavior. For a full description of Dan’s story, see the clinical case, Sexual Addiction.
- About Your Feelings
- Intrusive Feelings
- Early Trauma Feelings: What We Don’t Remember Can Hurt Us
- How We Avoid Our Trauma Feelings Can Also Hurt Us
- Relinquishing Ways We Avoid Our Feelings (Defenses) That Hurt Us
- Avoiding Feelings with Anger
- Listening to Feelings from a Wise Perspective
- Responsibility for Feelings
- Alive to Feelings