We reject difficult emotions
You might have noticed that we are often at war with ourselves. We are not happy with many aspects of our psyche. We feel angry, critical or rejecting of many parts of us that we believe to be unworthy, unhelpful or unacceptable.
For example, we generally enjoy and welcome emotions like happiness, contentment, fulfillment and love. But when it comes to feelings like frustration, anger, hatred, fear, anxiety, terror, pain and hurt, we react very differently. We usually want to defend ourselves against those feelings. We want to suppress them, deny them, or cover them over with something more acceptable.
Much of the time, this whole process of rejection is barely conscious. Both our defenses and the emotions they suppress are not much in our awareness. We are so well defended that we don’t even know that we feel fearful or angry or hurt. “What, me worry? No way.” Or “Of course I’m not angry with you.” Or “Let’s just move on.” And so on.
We reject our defenses
But there’s a problem. In suppressing the angry, scared and hurt parts of us, our defenses create a great deal of collateral damage. The damage is that they also suppress our aliveness, our joy, our curiosity and our love. We find that we are living half lives – true, we don’t get angry, but we also feel dull, depressed and lethargic. We don’t feel fearful, but we don’t trust anyone either. We aren’t in pain, but our hearts are not really available.
So then we get angry or judgmental towards our defenses. We reject our depression, our lack of trust, and our inability to love because they are keeping us in the shadows of life. Our rejection is all the greater because we are not usually in touch with the difficult emotions they protect us from. All we see is the damage they cause. We seem to think that if we can just reject these defenses enough, we can get rid of them. But it doesn’t work, and we feel really stuck in a half-lived existence, a victim of some inner darkness that is holding us back from life. And this is where most of us find ourselves at some point.
So how can we approach this persistent and painful stuckness.
Love unwinds our stuckness
Basically, what’s needed is an attitude of kindness and interest, rather than one of judgment and rejection. This is the only attitude that will unwind our stuckness. And it can be a huge challenge, because it does not occur to us to be kind to these parts of us that seem to be so opposed to our own best interests.
But as much as we can, we need to step aside from our inner criticism, and bring an attitude of kindness and interest to our defenses. As we approach them in this way, movement starts to happen, and we start to come unstuck. Bit by bit, our defenses start to unfold and reveal themselves to us. And as we keep inquiring, what we eventually discover is that they have actually been doing their very best to protect us. They have been trying to keep us safe from feeling and expressing the primal emotions that they believe are too difficult, dangerous or overwhelming to emerge. They are protecting us from being socially unacceptable, or from being totally swamped by our feelings. We start to see that, far from trying to harm us, they have always been faithful and vigilant protectors.
Our defenses are made of love
As we see this, we naturally feel appreciation and gratitude, and our hearts open even more. Our kindness becomes a deep compassion and our interest becomes a heartfelt curiosity that seeks to truly understand how these protective defenses have been serving us. Our compassion and curiosity allow our defenses to unfold even more, and to be completely understood. We see that their perspective is limited to the particular job they have been trying to do for us, but that from that perspective they have been faithfully and resolutely caring for us for a very long time.
We finally understand that these defenses, these seemingly dark, unyielding, confining structures, actually love us very much, and always have. We understand that they arose out of love, act out of love, and are made out of love. That is their fundamental fabric.
As we sit with this profound understanding, we may also come to know that the fundamental fabric of every part of us, not just our defenses, is love. This love manifests in a multitude of different ways, some of them seeming to be very much opposed to what is best for us. But at its profoundest, most mysterious depth, everything about us, without exception, is love, no matter what face it wears. And we find that love allows the unfolding that reveals itself. It reveals that we are love, have always been love, and cannot be anything other than love.
… love is more basic and more profound than any reaction …. It is you, who you are. – A.H.Almaas, Diamond Heart Book 2, p157.
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