Most of the time when I feel something negative I feel like a want to run away from it. I just wish it would go away. But I’ve been getting better at hiding this even from myself. Because I think that I should not want escape my emotions. Instead I should already know how to be present with them. I intellectually understand that to end all of my suffering I need to let myself suffer. But right now I don’t want to suffer. I just want it to end. And I don’t want to go through the hell of unpleasant emotions. I feel like they are killing me inside and if I felt them, I wouldn’t survive. Even though at many points in my life I was able to be present with myself when I was feeling negative emotion and what I discovered was that they didn’t kill me. I felt an overwhelming feeling of inner peace and satisfaction. It felt like liberation. So I understand that that’s the answer to the question how to end suffering. But what I do is that I push myself to let myself feel my emotions. Ironically, I push myself to feel because I don’t want to feel. All I want to do is to escape the truth of how I’m feeling right now.
I sat down with myself and I asked myself: “Why do I feel the need to run away from my negative emotions?”. I sat there being completely open to any answer I could receive. I just wanted to know and to be as present with me as I could. The answer I received was: “To keep me safe”. At first this answer has surprised me. How could that be true? How does it keep me safe? And then it hit me.
When was the first time I didn’t let myself feel what I felt? When I was a little child and my feelings were invalidated by adults who thought they knew better than me. The first time someone told me that my anger isn’t right and I shouldn’t be feeling this way, I’ve learned to disapprove of this emotion. I promised to myself to never express my anger and to deny its existence as much as I could. And why did I do this? To be safe.
I’ve learned that the only way how I could survive in this world was when other people approved of me. Therefore they had to approve of my emotions. If I showed them a feeling they didn’t like, for me it meant that I won’t get love from them. Not to get love means not to survive. My young self had no other choice than to conform to society’s idea of perfection to get love. I had to hide my negative feelings. And not only was I hiding them, I also resisted them. Whenever they would come up I would feel like a failure, because I felt something that wasn’t acceptable. If I feel something which is wrong, it means that I am wrong.
The real reason why I don’t allow myself to feel bad is because this unwillingness to feel keeps me safe. It ensures that I won’t die. It keeps me alive. It is a safety mechanism my little self adopted to survive in this world. What an innocent reason, right?
And this applies to everything. Every single seemingly destructive behavior we have is fundamentally here to keep us safe. It is as simple as that. All of our pain, all of our suffering is here because at some point in our lives it made us feel safe. It is true that when we grow up this safety mechanisms become far more destructive. The thing that initially kept us safe now kills us from the inside.
So many of us will sabotage themselves in life. We stay in our comfort zone and we never dare to take risks that could take us to a life of our dreams. We are so scared of failing that we never try anything new. We are convinced that when we live like this we will at least survive. We fail to notice that because of this our lives are slipping through our fingers. We live our lives only to discover that we have arrived to death safely.
But to free ourselves from the prison of these safety mechanisms we must recognize them for what they are and how are they serving us. We will never let them go if we fight them, if we want to desperately get rid of them and when we invalidate them. This wall that we built that now keeps us from living the life we want was once here to keep us safe. And it didn’t go away. It is still here for the same reason. It is time that we see it for what it truly is and give it the approval and love it deserves. Once we fall in love with the wall, it no longer bugs us and the wall has no need to be there.