Have you ever had an experience where you had overwhelmingly negative feelings that felt trapped in your body? These feelings are stuck in you and no matter how much you try to 'think' your way out of them you can't seem to move those feelings out of your body?
Perhaps someone said something to you that just rubbed you the wrong way. And, you being a good contienscous person - you don't want to take it to heart. You go over what happened and you think to yourself, "Maybe it was a misunderstanding, or maybe that person was just having a bad day, or maybe I was having a bad day. Maybe I was just being too sensitive and taking things too personally." But no matter how much you try to rationalize or analyze the situation you can't seem to shift your discomfort. And if you're honest with yourself, the feelings are still there, festering on some level.
Take a moment to remember a specific situation where you experienced this.
If you've ever had this experience, this is because your life is being shaped by a common belief and misconception held in Western society.
If you have this belief, this is through no fault of your own. This is a very "common sense" belief and is shaped by larger philosophical ideologies in Western society. And when I say, "common sense" - I mean seriously COMMON SENSE in CAPITAL LETTERS. Most people don't dream of disputing this belief because it is so ingrained in us.
In this post I'm going to focus on showing you the origins and problems with this, and show you an alternative perspective.
This belief occurs because Western society has very strong beliefs in individualism. How could the feelings in your body not be your own? If you believe you are a pure individual separate from other beings, such an interpretation feels impossible. Everything in my body belongs to me... because there is only me here.
This is an interpretation of the human body having a solid outline. Where nothing permeates us.
But really the human body is more like a dotted line.
We know we are permeable because sometimes we get sick - viruses and bacteria can get into our bodies. Or, to be a little more whimsical - music enters our ears and we hear and interpret it inside. We take many things in with our senses... so why not extend this to taking in the emotions of other people? Even their thoughts and beliefs. If we are permeable, is it not possible that we have the ability to overlap with other people?
Let's take this idea a little further and move out of lines all together.
When it comes down to it we are all made of atoms. So let's just for the sake of simplicity imagine the dots are atoms. But then animals, other matter including the air around us, is made up of atoms... we're all basically made of the same stuff, but in different compositions. This is pretty basic and gets even more wild if we go into quantum mechanics (which we won't do here...).
But the point is, when you break it down like this, where does my body really begin and end? Does it really make sense to view ourselves as separate individuals?
If we are not as contained and separate as we think, what exactly is this "inside" we are referring to where we feel "our" feelings, or think "our" thoughts? Where does your "inside" begin and end? Where does another person's "inside" begin and end?
Sometimes it seems that we do manage to "think" our way out of certain feelings. However, if you do not have all the correct information and interpretations, you will often fail to shift your feelings. Not because your rational thought process is failing you, but because you simply have an inadequate amount of data and are missing information to give you a more accurate interpretation. Such as the interpretation: Maybe this shitty feeling is not MY feeling.
Now go back to the experience I asked you to recall at the beginning of this post.. A time where you analyzed a situation to death and still found yourself stuck with negative feelings. And this time ask yourself, is this my feeling? Consider what it feels like to answer the question with "no."
Really take a few moments and try this. Reanalyze the situation with the interpretation that the crappy feeling I can feel in my body is not mine; it's someone else's in the situation.
How does this change the situation?
How does this change the feelings you feel inside?
Please take a few moments to be quiet and take this all in. Let these new ideas permeate you.
I hope this has given you a new perspective and some food for thought. Please feel free to ask questions in the comments or contact me if this has been impactful for you.
Until next time, peace and love,