A while back I wrote a post about how we tend to isolate and cut ourselves off from the parts of our bodies that are hurting. I used the analogy of not allowing everyone to sit at the Thanksgiving table and gave a suggestion for how to invite the hurting parts back to the table. You can read the original post and the comments in their entirety here.
A couple of people responded with some very thoughtful, insightful comments. I want to share part of one of them with you along with my reply. And, perhaps even take the discussion a bit deeper. Ready? Let’s go!
How can I stay with a challenging feeling or sensation, or even learn to listen to it?
And, my response:
Yes, being able to stay with a challenging feeling or sensation takes practice.
For now, I’m wondering if I’m hearing a ‘should’ here. As in “I really should be able to listen to and stay with challenging sensations and feelings.” If that’s the case, that’s a whole lot of pressure to be placing on yourself.
What if, just for now, it was totally fine to be unable to stay with the painful area for any length of time? It’s kind of like that uncle you just don’t feel comfortable around. Yeah, you can say ‘hi’ but anything more than that is too much.
When it comes to getting to re-know the painful parts of our bodies, sometimes just saying ‘hi’ can be enough.
Ok, let’s talk a bit more about the uncle. Go, uunnncles!
You are heading home for Thanksgiving and your entire family, even your extended family, will be there. It’s been a while since you’ve been home and you are feeling both excited and nervous. Excited to see everyone again. Nervous about seeing everyone again.
Especially one uncle in particular. He is the one that never talked to you when you were a kid. The one that was always really quiet and would just sit there, watching. You’ve never felt comfortable around him but, now, you are older. And, you understand that he had a difficult life. For some reason, you feel drawn to begin a relationship with him.
But, you really don’t know how. And, it’s sooo uncomfortable because you never really know what to say to him.
You arrive at the house and yay! Everyone is there and everyone is happy to see you. The, he walks into the room. You feel his eyes on you and you look up. There isn’t any welcome or happiness in his eyes. But, you remember your desire so you walk over, offer you hand, give your friendliest smile and say “Happy Thanksgiving.”
He returns the greeting, but without enthusiasm, not really looking at you. You desperately try to find something to say, can’t think of anything, begin feeling more and more uncomfortable and eventually, awkwardly, walk away.
You think, what a totally terrible start to this new relationship you so wanted to cultivate.
Relationships have to start somewhere
When it comes to beginning to cultivate a relationship with a part of our bodies that we have been cut off from for a while, the initial stages are often very uncomfortable.
As we start to listen to and allow ourselves to feel the hurting part, quite often the pain and discomfort can make it very difficult for us to be able to spend any amount of time with it.
That’s ok. It’s not necessary to spend lots of time with the hurting part at first. It takes time to warm up to one another; to really feel comfortable even being in the same room.
The important thing is the desire to have a relationship.
Or, as one of my mentors says: ‘Even the desire to have the desire is enough!”
You have the desire. You want to get to know that part of your body that you have not talked to in so long. You want to feel comfortable spending time together.
Right now you don’t. And, that’s ok. These things take time.
Just because, for example again, you want to have a relationship with your uncle, doesn’t in any way mean it is just going to happen. It may take a whole lot of smiles and hellos on your part before you begin to feel comfortable enough to hang out with him despite the awkwardness and the not-knowing what to say.
It may take a lot of time before you begin to feel comfortable being uncomfortable.
Until then, just saying ‘hi’ and then running away to hang out with some other relative where you do feel comfortable is perfectly fine. Really.
- Relationships take time to develop.
- There is no need to force yourself to hang out with discomfort or pain (the uncle) if it is uncomfortable for you. Just say ‘hi’, acknowledge the discomfort, and then run!
- As you continue to say hello, you will eventually be able to hang out longer and longer. The relationship will become deeper.