Being present with undesirable feelings and emotions is a challenge for most people. But this challenge presents great opportunity.
The human mind typically interprets undesirable feelings and emotions as danger which must be avoided. We do all sorts of things to avoid feeling uncomfortable: watch TV, eat, drink, positively think, shop, etc.
Avoidance holds these undesirable feelings and emotions intact within our minds, hearts, and bodies.
Perpetual avoidance over a long period of time usually results in struggles in relationships and imbalances and illness within our bodies.
Witnessing undesirable feelings and emotions unlocks a healing power from deep within yourself.
To witness means to simply observe, watch, feel, and sense without judging the feelings and emotions.
To witness also means that as you feel and sense what is arising within you and around you, that you do so without creating any story about the feelings.
To witness means to relinquish any urge to label a situation, feeling, or emotion as "good" or "bad," and to instead allow yourself to be a human fully experiencing the condition of being human – feelings, emotions, and all.
Witnessing our own feelings and emotions will unfold deep self-acceptance that you have never known before.
In addition to making you a more accepting and thereby peaceful person, witnessing your own feelings and emotions will train you to be a source of healing power for other people.
You become a source of healing power by first learning how to witness your own feeling and emotions without judging them or yourself for having them.
Once you can be with your full humanity without judging any aspect of it, you now have the ability to be with other people in their vulnerability without judging them. This allows other people in your life to feel seen, heard, acknowledged and loved.
While witnessing without judgment sounds simple and easy, it is challenging for most people to execute. It takes practice. But that practice can change your life and the lives of those around you.
Here is an example of NOT witnessing:
Bob is feeling very sad. He is a very tough, hardworking man whose father always said to him, "Crying is for sissies."
Now, Bob is going through a heartbreaking divorce. He needs to cry to release his emotions, but every time he feels that he is about to cry, he masks his sadness with anger and decides to have a beer instead. He tells himself, "Crying is for sissies."
Bob judges himself for feeling sad because his father used to judge men for showing sadness.
There is no healing available in this situation. Bob must learn to allow his full humanity to be expressed without judgment in order to fully feel and heal his broken heart.
Here is an example of witnessing:
Bob feels deep sadness when he wakes up in the morning. He gets present and silent with himself. He allows himself to feel the sadness inside of his mind, heart, and body.
He notices that his mind wants to create a story and judgment about his situation, but he just breathes into that judgment and allows those thoughts to dissolve with his exhales.
Bob’s sadness is still there. It even seems to intensify the more present he is with it. Then, he begins to cry.
Bob lets the tears flow for as long as they need to flow. He recognizes that his sadness is a sign of how much he cared and loved another human being.
He recognizes the tears as a sign that he is fully alive.
He allows the tears to flow as a symbol of the depth of life he got to experience.
The tears eventually cease and Bob feels spacious in his mind, heart, and body.
He chooses to go outside and take a walk – filling himself up with a nourishing activity.
Now that Bob has allowed himself to feel and process emotion, he understands the importance of witnessing.
When Bob’s son is going through tough times, Bob is able to be witness his son’s emotions without judging his son as being a "sissy" or being "broken." He is able to be with his son without judgment.
The healing power of witnessing begins first within ourselves and then expands into our connections with others.
More on this topic in future editions of Feel Better Now.