Central to the work I do with myself and others is the question: How do we treat ourselves? In particular, how do we relate to our painful/uncomfortable feelings and sensations? How do we treat the body when it’s in pain? How do we respond to ourselves when we’re feeling hurt, sad, angry, fearful, embarrassed, ashamed?
I see these experiences as opportunities to build deeper friendship with ourselves.
Instead of rejecting my body when it’s in pain, I can say: “thanks for letting me know” or “how can I help?” I can send kindness and love to whatever hurts. I can thank the body for all it’s done for me over the years. I can note, with gratitude, the parts of me that aren’t in pain.
We can take a similar, friendly approach to our feelings. Take anger, for instance. It often functions as a signal that something is hurting or scaring us. It points to our vulnerability – the need for care or protection for ourselves or others. Rather than ignore the feeling, squash it or treat it as a problem, we can listen more deeply to what it needs. We can accompany the feeling part of us from a caring and wise grown-up stance. “Thanks for letting me know. We’re in this together. I’ll stick by you. Let’s figure out what you need. I’ll handle the details.”
The feeling part of us is a younger part – a younger self. It’s very good at energizing us and letting us know when something’s not right. However, it often needs our help to identify what is needed. And it definitely needs our help/leadership in actually going about getting what is needed. Sometimes, action is needed to effect change “out there”. Sometimes, comfort and nurture is needed “in here”.
We don’t give the younger self the keys to the car. To do so is an act of abandonment. The feeling self is too young to navigate life’s challenges alone.
From the stance of the large self - older, wiser and loving - we honor the body and our feeling nature. We partner with these aspects of ourselves. We offer them companionship and care.