I had a dream last night, and I woke up and just had to write about it. In the dream I was at a big BBQ party with lots of people and tons of food. I had fixed myself a plate of food, set it on a table, and went to get a drink. When I returned, it was gone. A friend dismissed it by saying, “Just get another plate, there’s plenty of food.” So I did, and the same thing happened. My friend said to get yet another plate, what’s the big deal? But as I searched the now-scarce food offerings, I felt a simmering anger in my gut. And more, I felt the instant resentment toward my dismissive friend, and the self-righteous ownership of the victim’s pain.
Having such a strong feeling in a dream was unusual for me, so I began to contemplate the feeling as I made another dream sandwich, and wondered why I was holding on to this feeling so tightly. I knew something was different because it was still with me when I woke up. I could feel this place in me that was so strong and familiar, and I realized the feeling had more than one flavor. One was that I was a little ticked that my friend did not acknowledge how I felt in the dream, and another was that even though I knew I should let go of the feeling of being hurt, I didn’t want to let go. I wanted someone to see that I was hurt, and share the hurt with me, before I could let it go.
Both during the dream, and as I woke up, I could feel the habitual pattern of how I reacted to an event, and how I wanted to be treated, which when that treatment was not immediately available, added to the level of emotional pain. What was really noticeable was the habitual nature of this reaction, the speed of it, and the way I sought relief. I naturally wondered where this habit came from, and I could feel several resonances around this place in my gut. I also figured that if I felt this, it is likely that many people also feel this, so I thought I better write about it, both as a way to get to the resolution or healing, and as a way to serve others. After all, we are all mirrors.
I could feel this feeling, which persisted and resonated after I woke up, and I could feel how it wanted to be comforted and with that comforting came the tacet permission to let it go. Now, this was a very specific incident, with a specific pain associated, and it seemed I was trying to tell myself something about both my habit and the mechanism of releasing held pains. I mean, frankly, in real life it would have been dismissed, (with grumbling.)
I immediately thought of my mother, and mothers in general, as the ones who first start the tendency to want pain acknowledged. I talked this over with my wonderfully intelligent girlfriend, and she used the term “validated.” We want to have our feelings validated by others, and then we can more easily let them go. Now, you can see how this starts, we get hurt and our Mom comforts us and we receive attention (the good kind) and this helps us relax, and move on. And naturally we learn to need that attention, and we fall into a habit of needing something in order to relax.
Later, of course, our Mom isn’t there to comfort us, so we do some substituting around our need, we seek to commiserate with our playmates and friends, and later with our spouse and co-workers. Can you see the way this small habitual need blossoms into the world of news reporting, and the general complaint-filled world we experience? Not to mention the blues.
My girlfriend and I had been talking the other day about complaining, and how some people are just a litany of complaint. Sometimes we have to actually let go of friendships because of the constant negativity. I have a few old friends that are like that and she wonders why I would want to be around them at all. “Why do you subject yourself to it?” she asked me. I had to admit that I was just used to it.
What was more cogent to me was my own habits of complaint. I am sometimes guilty of using the first few minutes of any encounter to bitch about something, the weather, the Bears, the traffic, whatever. I always thought of it as not holding energy, so that by venting, I was releasing. And I tried to be funny about it, like the way stand-up comics rail about things. Only I am not a stand-up comic, in fact, I am not even a sit-down comic.
So, what happens when we can’t get any validation, commiseration or release of a hurt? We carry it around and then get distracted by life, and the feeling either shows up later, or we learn to make it “go away.” But……where is “away?”
Of course, “away” is in the body. But you know that, especially if you have been reading this space. So, just to prove a point, let’s do a little exercise:
Remember a time when you were hurt, insulted, emabarrassed or otherwise experienced pain.
Now, can you feel it?
Now, where do you feel it? It has a physical location doesn’t it? And when you feel this place, doesn’t the event and the hurt come back clear as a bell? And don’t you feel the urge to talk about it? And can you feel a similar resonance of other events in the same place?
What is noticeable is the no matter how much time goes by, if a feeling is not resolved, it stays in the body, until it is acknowledged, Which means feeling it to completion, not just talking about it.
We can easily see that we, as humans, have a talent to store feelings, especially those that were unwelcome when they ocurred. Perhaps this is a symptom of modern life, this storage of hurt. If we had the time and the learning to acknowledge our own pains and release them, perhaps we wouldn’t have such a huge bank account of hidden pain stuffed like a safe-deposit box in our chests. And the feelings we don’t resolve, tend to come around unconsciously, as stress, discomfort and complaining.
I did a retreat a while ago and one of the things I discovered was what I call The Pool of Infinite Sorrow. This is the place in me where I stash all my pain, sadness, sorrow, self-pity, victimhood and other like-vibrations. I was amazed that all that pain I thought I had successfully avoided was still all here, fresh and powerful, just waiting to be felt.
I have been fortunate enough to have learned in my training as a Living Essence Counselor that we don’t have to deal with all our past hurts the way the talking school does. The normal therapeutic approach, what is referred to as the talking school, would be to discuss the events that led to our unhappiness, and as we encounter them, the therapist acts as a surrogate parent and helps to validate our pain, and then, using the tool we learned so long ago, we can release that pain.
But think of the sheer number of events we are talking about, most of us anyway. Unless you have the kind of nature that never gets hurt or takes anything personally, I would guess that you are like me (and most people,) and you probably have a lot of stored, unacknowledged pain and trauma in your body. You can see why paople are in analysis and therapy for years and years, releasing each event on a case-by-case basis. But even when you let go of lots and lots of events and memories, the habitual action of stashing more events is not dissolved.
This is why dealing with the Pool as a frequency, or root feeling, is so much more efficient and deep. If we deal with sadness as a frequency, rather than an event in which we were caused to be sad, we can dissolve all the events we stored, all at once. I have to say, it’s pretty cool.
What happens when a feeling, like my resentment in my dream goes un-validated? You can see the root of many bahaviors come into being. For instance, I was clearly holding on self-righteously to the feeling, and it was turning to anger, not at whoever took my plates, but at my buddy for laughing it off. Right there, a misdirection. I immediately wanted to blame somebody for this discomfort and this lack of acknowledgment, and I just pointed the blame at the easiest target. And subconsciously, I also probably lumped my Mother in there because she was the one I really needed to comfort me, but she couldn’t, and she didn’t all those other times either.
So here is a whole pile of subconscious resentment blooming completely automatically. And exactly what can I do? I can bitch to the next person I see, I might even call up someone or write a whole blog about it. Whatever I do, it is unlikely I have the wisdom to notice this habitual mechanism. So I become the complainer I am trying to avoid, because of the many little events I have stashed in me, all subconscious now. And I wonder why I keep calling forth the same lessons. And of course, since somebody took from me, and I am still holding that insult, I find it very difficult to give.
Now, I hear what you are saying: we should take responsibility for our reactions, and instead of blaming, or being angry inside, we should see how we called this event into our field and we should check into our beliefs around attachment, and being right, etc., etc. All well and good, but what popped for me in the dream and immediately after was the unconscious process. Long before I could control anything, the feeling was there in my chest. It was altogether too easy to fall into the habit of how I had always dealt with events. And what sticks with me the most is the feeling of righteousness, the wanting to feel this way, and the defense of my attitude. It makes me wonder just how much of my personality is wrapped up in this complex, formed of this need. After all, the symptom described here is a form of self-validation; since my Mother wasn’t there, and my friend didn’t do it for me, I had to self-validate my own feeling. And I had to admit, it didn’t really work. I could still feel the hurt, and it triggered thoughts about it, and it also made me store the feeling, which is not healthy.
If we were all to notice this automatic system of feeling-storage and the need for resolution, would we not be more compassionate about our friends who are seeking release, even if it is in the form of complaint? And if we were all conscious of how we all do it, couldn’t we talk about what the real issues are, rather than the usual form, like complaining about a sports team when I really want to talk about something else?
Perhaps the worst part of this dream illustration is the self-righteous holding on I was aware of. I felt entitled to my anger, and I wanted others to congratulate me on my rightness. And gee whiz I had never done that before, or been sarcastic, either.
In my last piece, I mentioned the fight-or-flight response we are usually stuck in, and this is a good example. I felt a threat, and also reacted, then defended my reaction. In point of fact, if any person at that dream party, or any real party had asked me for my plate of food, I would have given it to them, no problem. I could have chosen another reaction, or even better, chosen a response, but instead I fell into the easier pattern of react-and-suffer, then defend the suffering. Can you believe this? I mean, it is all soooo familiar! I do this all the time.
My girlfriend asked me who I would be without this reaction and I said I could go two ways. One way would be to thank her for asking that question, you know, the one that awakens you from your traps and pitfalls. Or I could do the old thing, what I think many of us do, and simply want the commiseration and the righteous indignation to be what is acknowledged. I want to feel right, and I want you to tell me just how right I am. And I am willing to complain until somebody, anybody, scratches my (b)itch.
I have referred to the opportunity to dissolve these blocks and habits, and have been attempting to describe the way that I work as a Spiritual Counselor. If you ar any one you know would like to know more, please feel free to call me or email me, and I will be happy to tell you all about our session work. (505-670-6391 firstname.lastname@example.org) I will write a piece about this work soon, and describe a typical session. Also please feel free to share this with anyone, and to comment and share your own stories. And please subscribe, even if you don’t have time to read everything. Thanks!