I’ve spent 20 years learning to be present in my body and feel my feelings – to not run from them, to not repress them, to not deny them.
Also: refining skills that allow me to not become overwhelmed by the feelings and/or act out from them in ways that are harmful to myself or others.
There are still glitches.
Especially when I’m exhausted or hormonal I can be triggered into reactivity and say or do things I regret later.
Overall, however, huge amounts of healing and transformation have occurred.
Most of the time I can simply feel my feelings and then work to resolve the situation from a place of peace and perspective.
Further, when I am triggered, I can re-center and make amends as needed sincerely and swiftly.
Does feeling one’s feelings lead to healing?
Until recently, I fully believed that feeling my feelings (in a resourced manner and with help as needed) was the path to healing all wounds and trauma.
I’m not so certain of this anymore.
I’ll speak more about this in a moment. First…
…here’s the typical arch of healing when feeling feelings does work:
- become aware of some emotional discomfort,
- find the corresponding sensation in the body,
- use Owl Eyes or some other to skill to help hold/witness the discomfort/pain in the body,
- feel the discomfort/pain as it increases briefly prior to releasing/dissolving,
- return to oneself and with a sense of greater connectivity and wholeness.
This process is effective. It does lead to healing and transformation… especially when working primarily with pain/trauma originating within the lifetime of the person.
When feeling your feelings doesn’t work.
The deeper I’ve ventured into ancestral healing work, the more I’ve become aware of times when feeling my feelings is not only ineffective, but is also potentially harmful.
This tends to be the case when the pain/trauma one is attempting to fully feel originates from the unwell spirits within one’s lineage.
In this case, attempting to feel or embody the pain/grief in order to heal it is, to quote Daniel Foor, “a boundary collapse coming from failure to recognize the legitimate existence of another being”… in this case unwell ancestral spirits.
Is this mine?
This leads to the question of ‘what is mine vs not mine?’
When we attempt to embody feelings resulting from unresolved lineage trauma we risk becoming overwhelmed by or stuck in the pain ourselves.
Therefore, the first step is to establish boundaries between what is us/ours and what is not fully us/ours. From there, we can more effectively:
- feel our own feelings with regards to whatever is truly ours in the current situation and
- enlist appropriate help that can lead to the healing of what’s not-fully-us.
Being present in our bodies and feeling all the feels is a crucial piece of being human.
It is vital for healing, for self-expression, for recognizing when we are and are not safe, and for living an authentic life.
The problem is that we live in a culture where being present in our bodies and allowing ourselves to feel whatever is there isn’t a skill commonly taught or encouraged.
Further, this entire conversation around boundaries, especially with regards to the unwell spirits in our lineages is, for most people, completely new.
There are some corrections to be made; some skills to learn.
- It is necessary to learn how to become safely present in our bodies and to sit with and feel our feelings – to allow ourselves to fully feel and express grief, for instance.
- AND, it is necessary also to practice discernment and boundaries. To, at the very least, entertain the question of: is this overwhelming experience I am having fully mine?
Otherwise, we run the risk of spending years attempting to feel and heal something that isn’t ours and that won’t resolve as desired through this approach.
I know this from personal experience.
There are specific repeating painful experiences in my life that I’ve sat with and sat with and sat with. That I’ve felt and felt and felt… with no discernible shift in my internal or external experience… except even more experiences of, in my case, bottomless fear and grief.
It wasn’t until I began to set boundaries and work with these same patterns from a lineage perspective that my experience began to shift.
You and Your Ancestors
How do we know when the pain or painful pattern we are experiencing can be resolved through fully feeling the feeling?
How can we know when, instead, a boundary is needed? And, what are boundaries and how do we enact and maintain them?
These are all topics we’ll be covering in the first week of the You and Your Ancestors Lineage Healing course.
Especially when working with energies that are so closely tied into our own, that are a part of our very blood and bones, knowing when and how to set boundaries is crucial.
In week one, we’ll practice
- being present in our bodies and environments,
- safely feeling the feelings that are ours to feel, and
- setting appropriate boundaries so we don’t take on pain/suffering that is not ours to personally resolve.
You can learn more about the course here. It begins March 5th.