Spiritual healer Teal Swan says that we are living in an emotional dark age, and that in the future this will become widely known. Most people are not aware at any given moment of what they actually feel, and many thought they may have an idea of what they are feeling, find it difficult to put into words.
Given that we are very much emotional beings, and our decisions are generally based very much on our inner feelings, if we are out of touch with our feelings and not fluent in the language of emotions, life is going to be all the more challenging.
So how do we become fluent in the language of feeling? And what is an emotional anorexic?
Most people have been programmed by a society that is afraid of emotion to repress or surpress their feelings.
They have been taught that rationality and reasoning should always take precedence over feeling. The thinking mind, especially in the Western world, is king. And, not unsurprisingly, given that we still live in a patriarchy and reasoning and rationality are the territories of the masculine parts of our psyches. The feminine – which governs all things feeling – emotions, intuition, extra sensory perception – has been given a secondary part in the play of our lives. We have been taught that it should not govern, rather that our feeling selves need to be carefully managed to make sure they do not get out of control and start running the show – the energy of control and dominance.
If we have been particularly encouraged to surpress and repress our feeling selves, we may find ourselves floundering with relating in adulthood because we don’t actually knowing how we feel. We may have no idea of the difference between the feeling of anger and the feeling of frustration. We may not know when we are feeling genuinely happy and we may be a bit afraid of allowing the full flowing of our happiness to arise because our rational minds tell us it’s temporary so don’t enjoy it too much.
If we really repress our feelings to a point where we are not fully able to connect with them internally, and therefor we are not really able to receive the emotional expression of others in the form of: compliments, admiration, love and support then we may be suffering from emotional anorexia. This is the case when we have been deprived for too long of our deepest needs of loving connection with other. It is likely we have been hurt in our past through intimate connection – whether it be through the withholding of love or through smothering or overwhelming expression of love – so that we become very afraid of either abandonment, or of losing the self in the relationship with another, that we resist and fend off intimate and loving connections that come our way.
How to use Meditation and Mindfulness to re-connect with our feelings and become emotionally fluent
In order to recover from emotional anorexia, or just to start to grow a stronger relationship with our feeling selves so that we can grow deeper intimate connections, we need to actually have that intention.
Set the intention of: I wish to be more in touch with my feelings so that I am able to be more connected with my self and my own intuition, and be able to have deeper intimate connections with others.
Then start to pay more attention to your feelings.
- Where in your body do you feel your feelings?
- What are the physical sensations of your feelings?
- How does sadness manifest compared with joy?
- What is the felt experience of frustration or anger? Particularly anger may be hard for you to put your finger on if you have been programmed in childhood to surpress it.
Most of us have been programmed emotionally in our childhood, via the messages that came from our parents when we expressed certain emotions. We may have received the messages that anger was not OK for us to express, and so we learned to just numb out when we felt anger, instead of risking punishment for its expression. In this way our emotional repertoire becomes stunted from an early age.
Now as a recovering non-feeler or we could say ‘low on the emotional literacy scale’, you can just aim to connect with the feeling of anger next time it arises for you.
- What does anger feel like in your body?
- Where do you feel it?
- Are you able to locate it?
- Can you express it, even by yourself alone in a room?
As you become more intimate and conversant with your own feelings, start to welcome them in more to your inner self, your ‘guest house’ just like in Rumi’s poem.
THE GUEST HOUSE
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
— Jelludin Rumi
As you start to become more conversant with your feelings, see if you are able to actually feel them more.
- What do they feel like?
- Where do you feel this feeling?
- Name it: what are you actually feeling.
The next step in this process is starting to verbalize your feelings more when you are in company with others. When you are with your partner or close friends, try to do the practice of connecting inwardly with your feeling body, and see if you are able to share what you are feeling in the moment with another. This might be hard at first if you are not used to verbalizing your feelings. Notice if it is difficult.
Notice if your mind subtly whispers to you that you will be rejected for this, or abandoned for this, or that someone will be afraid of your expression of emotion.
And then go one step further – who was the first person who gave you this idea? When was the first time you were afraid to express you emotions? This is not for the purposes of blame or shame, just to help you understand the causes and conditions of your emotional expression or difficulty with this.
Enjoy this process of becoming more emotionally fluent. It is a step by step thing and won’t happen overnight. But if it’s a strong desire for you then slowly but surely you will grow into an emotionally literate and fluent person.