One of the central themes of therapeutic work is how client’s experience their feelings. For some, there is overwhelm. For others, a blankness or avoidance. For some, a rollercoaster of highs and lows, and a desire to find some level ground.
I notice a common thread through much of what is explored. Feeling = weakness. Socially this is a well rehearsed concept, with connections to cultural attitudes towards gender and sexuality and the outdated stereotypes therein.
It’s neither helpful nor true to perceive that experiencing our natural, human emotions is somehow a source of weakness or defectiveness. Emotions are powerful messages from our system. It can take quite something to stand firm and allow them to be, just as they are, fully experiencing them.
Vulnerability calls for great strength, and also for wisdom. We are not whole until we can be with our whole self; thoughts, body sensations, feelings and all else we sense. Knowing that whatever is present will not last, that energy is continually moving through us, is critical. Yes, wave after wave may come, but it need not knock us off our feet. Perhaps it might get us a wee bit wet, drenched even, but we will dry out, and may even feel energised and more alive for the experience.
If you are finding it hard to consistently make space for and connect with feeling without overwhelm or withdrawal, psychotherapy may be for you.