I think most of us feel comfortable with comfort.
And uncomfortable with discomfort.
We like the expected, the known, the familiar. We like to be able to anticipate what will happen. We like control…or, at least, to feel some semblance of control.
We like to be sure, certain, and assured.
Uncertainty feels a little…too uncertain.
We like to label, categorize, and define.
We like to know.
We like things neat, clean, and easily digestible.
We adore things that make crystal clear sense.
Ah, but life doesn’t always make sense.
And it’s not always (or ever?) neat, clean, or easily digestible. It can often be uncomfortable. And we’re often faced with the unfamiliar. Even though we’d like to anticipate any (and every) thing that could disrupt our contrived feeling of comfort, we can’t.
There’s always so much that we don’t know, that we can’t see.
This tendency of ours, to prefer a world that we understand, feels natural, instinctual, instinctive.
Of course. This is a space where we feel safe.
But this notion is inherently fallible.
Our thoughts and emotions are impermanent; they don’t last. They flit and float and rise and consume, overwhelm and subside. They flow and relax, shift and change. I, personally, can feel a range of emotions within the span of just a few minutes. Or seconds.
How we feel in any moment may shift with those tides of emotions—changing, morphing based on the current of whatever is moving within us and through us.
Our resistance to change, our discomfort with feeling discomfort may cause us to deny, repress, and suppress our emotions—especially the ones that make us feel uncomfortable. Because they feel uncomfortable to feel. And because, on some level, we judge ourselves for feeling them.
So instead of just feeling the sadness, the irritation, the frustration, the anger, the loneliness, the angst—we knee-jerkingly react to avoid feeling the sensations, to avoid even having to acknowledge that they exist.
But we don’t get rid of these feelings by avoiding them. And they don’t dissolve by pretending they don’t exist. They don’t disappear just because we refuse to acknowledge them.
When we do this, we only manage to temporarily banish them to a part of our mind that feels too distanced to be accessed. But it can and will be accessed. Those thoughts, feelings, and emotions will resurface—if not in an obvious, conscious way, then certainly through our unconscious actions and reactions.
We not only feel a range of emotions, but also complex, multilayered, and even conflicting deeper inner feelings.
We may be grateful for a situation or experience but also feel trapped and suffocated by it. We may have tender, loving feelings toward someone, yet also feel deep anger and resentment. We may feel deep love, but also disconnect.
These deep, conflicting feelings may be felt concurrently. It can be confusing and disconcerting. It’s an experience that’s certainly not easy to clearly define. It can even be difficult to reconcile or understand. How is this even possible?
We have complex, nuanced feelings because we are complex, nuanced beings.
Life would feel easier if it was always nice, clean, neat, and tidy—but that’s not how it is.
It’s never so simple.
Along with the shifting layers of our emotions, and the multilayered nature of our deeper inner feelings, lay our judgments—our feelings about how we’re feeling, our thoughts about what we’re thinking and experiencing.
We judge emotions and feelings as desirable or undesirable, good or bad, moral or immoral, spiritual or unspiritual, okay or not okay.
But our emotions are just emotions. Our thoughts are thoughts. Our feelings are feelings.
They’re all just pointing us toward something we’re meant to know.
We all have lessons we’re here to learn.
Things we’re meant to understand.
If we could learn to simply feel our feelings, allow our emotions, observe our thoughts, and acknowledge the judgments we hold, we could learn what all of these things are trying to teach us.
They’re signaling something we’re meant to know. They can help shine a light on deeper yearnings, desires, and values—things that mean something to us or things that don’t resonate with us, or who we truly are.
But to learn from them, we have to be willing. Willing to see, to learn, to acknowledge, to feel, and to understand.
It’s hard and painful to admit some of the thoughts and feelings that pass through us. It’s why we’re so good at avoiding, denying, ignoring, repressing, and suppressing them.
It takes courage to be so radically self-honest.
It’s also liberating.
The soft, loving key through all of this is acceptance—self-acceptance.
To accept ourselves through each moment, each thought, each feeling, each emotion, each experience, each judgment, each breath.
Can we accept ourselves through every thought we think, through every feeling we feel, through every emotion that passes through us? Can we allow it all to happen, and be okay with it happening? Can we even accept our judgments—accept when we notice ourselves judging? Can we soften around that too?
Can we bring grace, gentleness, and self-kindness to these moments?
Can we feel okay with feeling restless and uncertain? Can we feel self-accepting when we don’t feel accepting? Can we be self-loving when we’re feeling deep anger toward someone or something?
We have to let ourselves feel what we feel. Acknowledge how we feel. Feel into how we feel.
We have to be curious and inquire. We have to be courageous and willing to learn from what we discover. We have to be accepting—accepting of this moment, this feeling, this emotion, this experience, this breath.
Ultimately, and most importantly, we have to be accepting of ourselves.