The Holy Simplicity of Sitting With Uncomfortable Feelings
The Mother Wound journey is often tumultuous: it can range from denial to disbelief to astonishment. This journey is filled with recollections of past trauma and real hurt when trying to change patterns in the present. In order to move from resistance to surrender and ultimately, healing, we must embrace the process of sitting with uncomfortable feelings. We must sit with pain and discomfort and big, often ugly, emotions and realizations. Learn what is on the other side when you are present with your pain.
Sitting with our uncomfortable feelings as they arise is such a simple act and yet it can be one of the hardest things to do.
Feeling our pain and not rushing in to fix it, numb it, avoid it, or cover it up takes enormous courage. This is where surrender comes in. We reach a point in our healing where we’ve read all the books, consulted all the gurus, or tried all the fancy techniques and all that is left is the last thing we want to do: sitting with uncomfortable feelings our pain, feeling the discomfort and disappointment. Ironically, sitting with our pain is precisely what will eventually bring us all the things we were looking for through avoiding it.
A major key to healing emotional wounding is the willingness to endure discomfort for the sake of transformation. This willingness is essential to truly come out the other side of childhood wounds.
Sitting With Uncomfortable Feelings Seeds Empowerment
Feeling all the feels means experiencing a range of big and often hard emotions. Changing patterns and confronting pain requires courage because they are not comfortable. A range of emotions arise—fear, sadness, loneliness, rage, anger, and pain. Sometimes, when we experience discomfort, these feelings cannot even be named; we may not be able to identify their immediate sources. Yet, these phases of discomfort are part of the transformation when healing the Mother Wound. It is important to feel these feelings—to let them rise, swell, and settle in the realizations that will later seed empowerment. You may realize you’ve been abandoned, neglected, silences, trapped, or gaslit. The discomfort of recognizing these elements of your past will help you to relearn new, healthier patterns—and excavate the authentic you that desires to shine.
This discomfort can come in many forms:
- Being misunderstood by family members
- Sitting with your own pain and just feeling it and allowing it to be there
- Going through a period of anger or grief without knowing when the uncomfortable feelings will end
- Having low energy or a feeling of being lost and unsure
- Allowing yourself to be vulnerable and receive support from others
- Distance from people who you used to be close to
Healing is private and un-glamorous work
Our culture promotes the idea of immediate gratification and instant results. It takes enormous courage and strength to stick with the unglamorous process of healing that has a timeline of its own. In addition to the cultural component, there are also the survival instincts within us that tell us to fight or take flight when we feel threatened. That is why having support in the healing process is essential.
To an unhealed inner child, the only way it knows how to soothe itself is to act in accordance with the patterns that were imprinted by the family of origin, but usually, those are precisely the patterns that are causing the pain. This keeps us trapped in a loop. The answer is to cultivate the skill of mothering and soothing our inner child while we make new choices that better reflect our true desires and needs. This inner bond is what helps us to effectively separate from family and cultural patterns that cause suffering.
The split usually involves some form of numbing our feelings and rejecting ourselves in order to be accepted by our families. Healing involves the recovery of our ability to fully feel our feelings and thus, to feel and express the truth of who we are without shame.
The Process of Sitting With Uncomfortable Feelings
While we are surrounded with messages to avoid our pain, both externally in the culture and internally through early coping mechanisms, it is through being present with our own pain and allowing our feelings to flow that healing really happens.
Truth is found outside our comfort zone. Outside the comfort zone is the space in which we separate from dysfunctional patterns that have been ingrained in us by our culture and families.
There are two main phases of learning to endure discomfort for the sake of transformation. Each phase may overlap at times, but generally, we move from resistance to surrender. To learn how to be present with your pain, witness the flow between these two phases:
Here we usually have a great deal of aversion and avoidance of looking at the painful feelings we experience. We may seek various ways to numb out or repress the truth of what we are feeling. Resistance can take the forms of self-sabotage, forgetfulness, overwhelm, and addictions. Sometimes resistance can be helpful as an inner boundary of slowing things down until we are ready to fully see something. And sometimes it can be the avoidance of what we know we must face. It takes careful self-examination to see which form of resistance is operating. We may experience some resistance at each new level of healing, but as we grow, we can better recognize resistance and more easily move through it.
Most of us surrender simply because the pain of resistance becomes too great. We eventually cross a threshold where we’ve learned to trust that embracing pain rather than running from it is what provides relief. We fully taste the joy and freedom that come from being in contact with the REAL within oneself. There is nothing like having moved through the pain and into the joy of feeling ONE within yourself. The peace of inner alignment: feeling and expressing your authentic feelings without the need to defend them.
There dawns a harmony between your personal imperfections and your irreplaceable part in the greater perfection of life.
Eventually, the longing and hunger for living your truth overshadow all other desires, including the desire to be free of pain. It is seen that this hunger for truth is trustworthy and will lead you to what you need in each moment. And sometimes what you need is to embrace is yet another level of inner pain. The moments of relief and bliss that open up through having embraced your pain make it all worth it. Over and over we learn that the act of embracing and being present with our pain is what connects us with the larger truth of who we are.
On the Other Side: Live Your Truth
I think that one of the reasons why the crucifixion is such a powerful, pervasive symbol in the world is because it symbolizes one of the biggest challenges as humans: the willingness to accept and be present with painful feelings.
A new inner space is created where you have permission to live from the REAL.
As we do the inner work, eventually a conviction arises; a quickening, a hunger and fierce commitment to living one’s truth. A desire develops to live from each moment from within the fire of your original self. Each moment begins to represent a new, fresh opportunity to live from simple, open, awareness of what is. Moments of bliss and joy eclipse the discomfort and pain: we move from feeling all the feels to
1. Awareness Is an Embrace
We see that awareness itself is an embrace. We start on the painful periphery and as we become increasingly skilled in enduring discomfort and the uncertainty of the unknown, there lies the potential to merge with the holy presence that lives at the center of our pain and realize that is the truth of who we are.
Many of us have a feeling of homesickness deep within. A nameless longing and aching grief. Many of us experienced this as children in relation to our mothers, a feeling of being groundless and adrift. Embracing the homesick feeling within the Mother Wound leads us to eventually come to a place where we realize that we can never be truly abandoned. This becomes possible by becoming a loving inner mother to our inner child as we embrace her deepest despair.
2. Within Despair is a Door
In that despair is a door; a door to our source, the unified consciousness in which we are one with all.
In this way, our pain is a messenger. A messenger telling us it’s time to come home; to the primordial home within, which is the realization of our true identity as consciousness, the knowing that we are spirit and can never be truly harmed or abandoned because we are one with all. I recall moments in my own healing process when I would process layers of grief within the Mother Wound; the sense of worthlessness and wanting to die. And in that willingness to simply feel the full scope of that incredible despair and grief, I knew that this was the bottom. There was no pain deeper than that. That pain was the ground. And by standing on that ground and being present with my deepest pain, I was free.
2. Feeling Pain Frees Us From It
By feeling all the feels and sitting with our pain, we begin to recognize that the pain we have felt is not the truth of who we really are. We begin to see that the open, loving presence that we embody as we embrace our own pain is who we are, our true identity underneath all our other identities.
Call Upon Your Inner Mother When Sitting With Uncomfortable Feelings
The culmination of living as a “self” is to live as the “no-self”; the vast, loving space that lovingly witnesses our pain and embraces it completely. This is what a healthy mother does for her child. Author Rupert Spira has said that awareness is like the space in a room, it unconditionally accepts what happens in it. Likewise, in order to develop optimally, a child needs a mother who is unconditionally present and accepting of her. A child needs to learn it is safe to sit with uncomfortable feelings—and how to navigate those feelings. However, mothers are human beings with flaws who make mistakes. All of us receive some degree of wounding from our mothers.
Through that primary, holy wound, we are called to become that loving mother to ourselves… and to all life.
As we embody the unconditional love of the inner mother, we become re-connected to life itself. We become re-connected to the birth-less and death-less center that is constantly born and dies in countless forms. This is the evolutionary step that lies within the pain of the Mother Wound.
As women, we grow up believing that a holy power lies outside of ourselves, and in the healing process, we start to realize that what we most desire, that which is most holy, eternal, and pure is inside of us and has always been there. In fact, it is us. Not just in one or some of us, but it lives equally in all of us, in all of life.
Because we are all connected, each time you lovingly embrace your own pain, you activate the power of oneness in all. Embrace the power of sitting with uncomfortable feelings, knowing that your healing is our collective healing.
(Image credit: Unsplash)