I will respond to any questions, concerns, or comments that you send to me, Leaf, care of THE SUN, Box 732, Chapel Hill, N.C. 27514.
How can I remind myself that there is a difference between being desired and being desirable? I often feel unwanted, worthless in the moment.
I imagine that you associate other people’s desire of you as determining your own worth. This is common for most homo sapiens, as we were raised to believe that what other people thought was good or bad, desirable or undesirable, loveable or unloveable were the correct criteria for evaluating our own behavior. Since the approval (which is often confused with love) of parents, relatives, teachers, peers was so vital to our well-being, we learned to believe that what they thought was right for us was right. Not only did we believe it, we felt it. Behavior that many of us spontaneously enjoyed as children, such as loud boisterous playing, eating and sleeping when we wanted, and touching our genitals often met with disapproval and control. These once enjoyable activities (and anyone whose childhood memory is open can remember many ways that his or her activities were repressed — some successfully and some not) no longer gave us pure spontaneous pleasure. Fear, anxiety, guilt tainted the activities that we knew would meet disapproval, or else, consciously or unconsciously, we stopped doing what was deemed bad. Some of this control is necessary for children to survive safely and sanely into adulthood, but, as we all know, much of our parents’ manipulation of our free expression was stimulated by their fear and insecurity.
This external conditioning can almost totally permeate our existence. There are many people who will not risk the disapproval (anger, hurt, disappointment, legal punishment) of others even at the cost of not doing what feels good or right to them. They pay for this with frustration, inhibition, physical ailments, unhappiness. I know people who will not share their thoughts or feelings because they fear hurting someone else. This unnecessary protection of someone else’s feeling seems to say, “What I feel, what hurts me, what I want is not as important as the possibility that you may be hurt in reaction to me.” I can accurately guess that many of these people were taught that their hurt, anger, needs were undesirable feelings. As children, their emotional expression met with disapproval or no response. This message has become so well integrated that, today, many people still are not willing to express themselves. It is difficult for us to feel loveable if we do not feel that we are valuable enough to express our feelings.
Other people’s desire, approval, love of us do not determine if we are loveable. We are all inherently and undeniably loveable. All the ways that we think we are or are not loveable are ways that we are loveable. Our selfish, mean, lazy aspects are both our reaction to our pain and suffering, and our human nature. Heal this part of yourself with your love. We can only be whole when we love our Whole Self.
Friends, partners, parents can only provide a small amount of the love that we need to feel loveable. I have often heard people earnestly told of their worth and desirability who could not accept words that they did not believe in their heart. Only when we can look into our own eyes, our heart, our Being and feel love will we Know Love.
Find God in Joy
No matter what causes it, whenever a little bubble of joy appears in your invisible sea of consciousness, take hold of it, and keep expanding it. Meditate on it and it will grow larger. Watch not the limitations of the little bubble of your joy, but keep expanding it until it grows bigger and bigger. Keep puffing at it with the breath of concentration from within, until it spreads all over the ocean of infinity in your consciousness. Keep puffing at the bubble of joy until it breaks its confining walls and becomes the sea of Joy. Metaphysical Meditations. Paramahansa Yogananda.
Leaf, my housemate doesn’t do his fair share of work. He doesn’t wash his dishes, take the garbage out, and messes more than he cleans. I’m really getting angry. What can I do?
On the warpath
Dear Friend, How can I keep from getting angry?
Anger is a fundamental human emotion. We all feel angry at times (except the few who have transcended their human nature). There is nothing wrong with anger — what is wrong is not expressing the anger that we do feel. Anger will express itself. Denied anger rages against the person who is attempting to hide his or her anger. This feeling turns to headaches, ulcers, frustration, nightmares, fear, impotency, bad feelings. The first step in dealing with anger is to recognize its existence: I feel angry.
Recognize how you feel angry. What do you feel in your body? What thoughts are you thinking? How are you behaving? Allow yourself to be fully aware of your anger. Often, other events will surface, sometimes from very early in your life. These memories appear because of similarity between this situation and those. New pain triggers reminders of old pain especially when that old anger was not adequately expressed.
When you recognize how you feel angry, be aware of what is happening that you are reacting to with anger. Almost always, anger is inextricably intertwined with hurt. We feel angry when someone or something (such as institutions, the weather, machines) does not treat us with the value and love that we feel we deserve. We feel deprived, abused, humiliated. We also may become angry when other beings are mistreated.
Anger is one reaction to hurt. It is a mobilizing energizing power reaction. Sadness or grief is another reaction to hurt — this feeling is surrendering, resigned, completing. Sadness and anger are both appropriate responses to hurt. The inability to outwardly cry or get mad probably represent major blocks in our ability to express ourselves. Somewhere and somehow we learned to repress these feelings.
Expressing anger is frequently difficult for us. We confuse anger with violence and fear harming people with our rage. Not expressing anger as we feel it is what causes violence. This is especially true since many of us have stored a large amount of smouldering ancient rage. I recommend dealing with anger in two ways. Express anger that comes from the past or that feels too powerful to direct at another person loudly and forcefully. Do this by yourself, with a trusted friend, in an appropriate group, or with a skilled helper. Beat pillows, stomp the floor, shout vehement irrational words (don’t physically hurt yourself). Unexpressed anger is trapped in our muscles and organs so mobilize your body. Let your anger out as often and vigorously as you want. Sadness, even crying, may follow; our anger tension often prevents us from feeling our sadness.
Tell the people whom you feel anger towards about your feelings. If you can differentiate what is historical anger (and they may be able to help you with this), your anger will be alive, in the present, and something to which they can respond. If possible, share your feelings in a non-blameful way. A model for this type of communication is: I feel angry (your feeling) when you (their behavior) because ) (consequences to you) [see On Confrontation, Robert Wilson, THE SUN, Jan. ’76] . This method of communication allows them to know how you feel and what they do without putting them down. Sharing feelings produces more open, honest, supportive relationships.
Anger will come out angrily at times. This is the nature of anger. Observe and accept your anger. As we experience our anger, we have less and less anger. Denying our feelings does not cause them to disappear — we will only be dealing with them less effectively. Love your angry self. Your love will give you permission to express what you feel, and will soothe your raging fires.