One of the most significant lessons I learned on my journey is that categorising feelings as good or bad is a complete waste of time. Now, I understand that there is no such thing as good or bad feelings. Feelings just are.
When I first brought my new rescue dog, Reggie, into my home, my current dog, Ruby, was not happy. She sulked around quietly, refused to look at or react to me for days, barely ate, and snarled at her new roommate. She eventually got over it, but it took awhile.
Us humans, placed in a similar situation, would experience what Ruby felt as betrayal, jealousy and encroachment of our private space. On top of feeling those feelings, we’d feel associated feelings of guilt, for feeling those original feelings. Quite the tangled web!
But why do we feel guilt about our feelings in the first place?
Conditioned Perceptions of Emotions
We have been taught that certain feelings are negative, or bad. We have come to understand feeling emotions such as anger, jealousy or envy as wrong. If we don’t embrace every situation we face with open arms, love and acceptance, we are selfish—another trait perceived as bad.
But did my dog Ruby judge herself for her feelings and reactions? Well, I’m not a dog, and I can’t be sure that dogs don’t feel guilt. But I’m guessing that since she hasn’t been indoctrinated with shame around feelings, she’s probably fairly chill with her sulkiness. She also decided when she was ready to accept Reggie, and until then, the household just had to suck it up.
The Sensation of “Negative” Feelings
For the average person, it’s impossible to rid ourselves of feelings until we accept that we really get off on feeling them (yes, even the bad ones). One of my teachers, Carolyn Elliott, says that “having is evidence of wanting.” That concept completely blew my mind, and threw me into tailspin trying to come to grips with it.
It meant that my recurrent financial struggles, disastrous love life, tendency towards isolation and lack of true friendship were all problems that I created. Because in my very dark reaches, I completely enjoyed the sensations associated with them.
Basically, the events that keep occurring in our lives do so because we love the feelings associated with them. We love the burning sensation and adrenaline rush of jealousy or anger or abandonment as much as we love the sweet sensation of love and peace. If we live in chaos, or are dealing with inner turmoil, most of the time it means we love the burning sensation more than we love the sweet feeling.
And it’s our unconscious, or shadow side, that creates the situations, so that we can keep feeling that exquisite burning over and over again. This is why our conscious and unconscious need to be best friends, so we know what the other is up to. Isn’t that mind-blowing? I’m absolutely aware that, depending on where you are in your development or recovery, you may find this concept totally offensive, exasperatingly melodramatic and outrageous.
The Eternal Damsel in Distress
But just think about it for a minute. Really get honest with yourself about the reactions of your body to the situations you encounter. It may be a very enlightening experience for you. How do you feel, really, when yet another lover leaves you? Or when you get rejected by your community because of your radical thinking? And what purpose do these seemingly disastrous events play in your life?
Well, you get to be the eternal damsel in distress, feeding off the pity and kind words of others, or the superior mind, never having to conform—a righteous rebel. And how delicious is it to stand out from the crowd as the tortured one, living life despite all the adversity?
To clarify—this does not apply to things you have no control over, such as any kind of abuse. You have no control over the actions of other people or the decisions they make. However, it absolutely applies to situations that you place yourself in willingly.
No More Manifesting the ‘Yuck’
It is my new understanding that I have manifested some of the most awful situations in my life into being. I have, in fact, been in charge of things I first thought I had no power over. I saw my life as a series of bad luck events. But in actuality, I was putting myself in situations because of some deep rooted need for them. I’m a pro at the law of attraction when it comes to the yuck stuff.
So at this point, I’m totally done with manifesting the yuck. I’m on a relentless path to creating a life where I’m not constantly cleaning up my own crap. I’m learning to align myself with feelings of peace and tranquility, rather than chaos and drama. Watching my dog Ruby be totally accepting of her shadowy aspects further solidifies this point. Being real and honest about our situation is the first step to making it different.
The trick is aligning the desires of our heads and our hearts and really becoming acquainted with our subconscious mind. Joseph Murphy, author of The Power of Your Subconscious Mind, says “Just keep your conscious mind busy with expectation of the best.” This is important, but it is also important to work on the shame that we were taught to associate with our feelings. Understanding that feelings are neither good or bad is a great place to start.