Exploring Beneath The Surface
Unwanted feelings and thoughts are rich territory to dive beneath the surface for fresh insights that open the heart. Imagine for a moment that you are floating along on the ocean of feelings unwilling to accept that the choppy waves to your left signify anger. If you put on snorkeling gear and dive under them, you will see a whole new world.
Beneath the anger you will most likely find a hurt or a fear. Complete the following sentences with yourself:
Each time I think of __________I get angry.
If I feel this anger, I’m afraid that ___________.
When I feel this anger, I am hurt about __________.
Remember, avoid assigning personal meaning to these feelings. (I’m such a terrible person for feeling and thinking this way.) Just swim around with your snorkel securely in place, investigation the fear and hurt that lies beneath the anger.
Surface briefly and reflect about the role your anger plays. Here are a few possibilities:
Anger is a shield that protects a part of me that feels afraid or hurt.
Anger is a red flag alerting me to the presence of fear of hurt.
Anger is a messenger. A part inside must feel afraid or hurt.
Now take a deep breath and dive again, looking next to the fear or hurt for a judgement it may have spawned, such as the following:
If people knew I was afraid they would reject me.
I’m pathetic for being afraid of this.
Feeling hurt is weak and foolish.
Because I feel hurt I am unworthy of love.
Chronic reactive angry responses can disrupt relationships, derail important business deals, and cause high blood pressure. Unexpected fear can freeze us in mid-sentence, hold us back from speaking our truth.
The heart – the energetic center of acceptance and loving – shuts down when you adopt black and white thinking. Desperately needing to stay in control of life and make sense of the world, you resort to rejecting what you see as wrong (bad, inappropriate, immoral) and cling to what you see as right (good, appropriate, moral).
When the heart opens, making sense of the world is not as important as being happy, finding lasting peace, feeling healthy and stress free, and getting a good night’s sleep. Restraining from taking a position about the world, other’s behavior, your performance at work allows the heart to thaw out revealing depths of information that quiets fear and loosens the grip of control. You then can live authentically rather than self-righteously.
Questions for Letting Go of Black/White Thinking:
If I am judging my husband/wife/boss/ friend do I also judge myself in the same way?
Am I condemning my mistakes or lack of perfection because I am afraid of failing or being seen as a failure?
Do I judge anger (fear, sadness, caring, loving) as wrong in others because I see it as wrong in myself?
Do certain people get on my nerves because I’m afraid their behavior resembles my own?
If I want to be happy rather than right in this situation, what do I need to accept and forgive in myself?
Snorkeling can open the mind to what is really going on in your ocean of feelings. But only self-acceptance can uncover these truths and open the heart.
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