Catch And Release – Melody Beattie on what to do with feelings

Still snuggled in my bed this morning, listening to the sound of a soft gentle rain, reading Melody Beattie’s

The New Codependency: Help and Guidance for Today’s Generation

Here is part of a chapter called Catch And Release: It’s Only a Feeling.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

pg 231-235: Here are a few ideas that make feeling emotions easier.  The way to get feelings out is to catch and release.  When we used to go fishing, we pulled every fish we caught out of the water and took it home even if we weren’t going to eat it.  Then we realized fish were living creatures.  We shouldn’t kill them unless we intended to eat them.  It wasted Life.  We developed a new way to fish called “catch and release.”  We caught the fish, tagged it to prove the big one didn’t get away, then we set the fish free.  That’s all we need to do with feelings.  We can deal with a feeling in less than a minute (although many take longer), once we learn the trick.  We release the feeling and old belief, and Life teaches us something new.  Then along comes another emotion, another belief, and a new lesson  It’s a natural, organic process called spiritual and emotional growth.  We don’t control the process.  Life grows us.

Resistance, judging feelings as positive or negative, and talking about feelings endlessly will often turn emotions into a bigger ordeal than necessary.  I spent ten years grieving the loss of my son.  But grief isn’t one feeling.  It’s thousands of emotions–one after another along with many lessons about life, living, and death.  The process for feeling any emotion of the hundreds that exist is almost exactly the same.  We’re aware and quiet long enough to identify and feel the emotion.  We connect with the original emotional energy.  Let the emotion be what it is.  Sink into it.  Don’t resist, push, or try to force it.  Don’t pretend or act as if.  Give in.  Surrender.  Honor, acknowledge it, whatever words we want to use.  We connect with the feeling.  We completely feel it.  It has to be a perfect fit–like trying on the right pair of jeans.

Resistance to and judgments about emotions can make them unpleasant and hurt more.  The more skilled we become at surrendering to the feeling–the quicker we tag the fish and get it back into the water–the easier feeling emotions becomes.  Nonresistance helps neutralize pain.  The second we stop caring what feeling is in us, the problems from feeling the feeling are eliminated.  Whether it’s anger, confusion, hatred, or fear, we pull that fish in and tag it.  It’s ours.  We become one with the feeling.  Then we breathe it out.  Let it swim away into the ocean to wherever felt feelings go.

Judging emotions as positive or negative, good or bad, also makes feeling them more complicated.  We judge some emotions as “bad, negative” feelings.  Then we call others “good, positive” feelings.  But the truth is, they’re all the same.  They’re feelings.  There isn’t any difference between feeling sad and happy–except the judgment we make in our minds.  The second we stop judging the emotions, surrender to whatever it is, then breathe it out, it’s gone.  It doesn’t matter what the feeling is.  Think of the most brilliant symphonies ever created.  It’s the range of moods that make them so stunning–the deep, moody emotions compared to the light trilling.  There’s as much difference between angry and excited as there is between purple and green.  They’re both colors.  Different, but the same.  We might have personal preferences, but they’re all feelings on the color wheel.

The one exception to this is sometimes feelings we call premonitions, or warning feelings.  Those may stay with us, like a flashing yellow light, until we see the caution signal flashing.

We need feelings in the world.  They help us create great music, because we’re emotionally alive.  They help guide us.  They tell us when we hate the situation we’re in or whether or not we love what we’re doing and who we’re with.  they put life in what we do; they show us what interests us.  They’re the color, passion, and spice of life.

I can’t teach you how to catch and release, but you can learn it.  You probably won’t be able to do a feeling in thirty seconds in the beginning, any more than you could tag a fish that quickly the first time you went fishing.  But you can get better and faster each time.  Don’t make it a contest.  Take as much time as you need to connect with and feel each feeling.  We’re not going to blow through all feelings quickly, but some we can.  The most innocuous activities can help bring up and release an emotion–watching movies, laughing, exercising.  Our intuition will guide us into doing what we need to trigger emotions.  We’ll get an idea.  If we don’t ignore it, we’ll do the next thing, feel, learn our lesson, and grow.  Obvious activities can trigger emotions: attending family reunions, the death of someone we love, losing a job, or getting a promotion or raise.  Events trigger emotions, and so do people’s actions.

Contrary to what we were first taught, we don’t have to tell everyone each feeling we have, even if it’s connected to them.  The person was the trigger; the emotion belongs to us.  We need to make one person aware of what we’re feeling: ourselves.  How do we know when we have to talk to a person about a feeling?  After we release the emotion, we’ll be clear.  We’ll know what to do.  We’ll naturally do it.  We’ll trust ourselves.  We won’t have to think about it.  When we stop trying to figure out life and intellectualize everything, when we begin to feel and release our feelings, we start to live organically.  Naturally.  We do the next thing.  We’re not living emotionally driven lives or being controlled by our feelings.  We’re living from our center.  There are times we need to talk to a person about a feeling.  But do it after we’ve released the emotion.  We’ll be more powerful. People mistakenly think the way to express anger is scream, holler, or argue when we’re angry.  All that does is cause a fight or allow anger to control us. It weakens us.  the most powerful expressions of anger are after we’ve released it.  The most effective person in a crisis is the person not acting out of fear.  Catch and release is the secret to mastering emotions.  We feel each emotion by becoming one with it for a moment.  We let it have its way with us.  Then we breathe it out–like stale air.  Then we ask what we’re supposed to learn–if anything–from the emotion we felt.  Or we don’t have to ask–Life will show us.  Learning the lesson will occur naturally, by itself.

Sometimes we feel more than one emotion at once; a current feeling and similar past emotions.  We can usually tell when this happens because our reaction will be more intense than the situation calls for.  If something happens and we overreact, it’s usually because we’re feeling the current emotion along with an emotion (or four) that are similar that we have repressed and have kept living inside us for years.  How do we deal with those situations? Catch and release.  Intense emotional growth occurs when this happens.  Usually our lessons are like courses: We’ll have an introduction, then beginning lessons.  We’ll get into the heart of the course, have pop quizzes and tests.  Then we’ll finish the class.  Emotions will be part of the entire process, but so will letting go of old, limiting beliefs, and letting Life teach us new, healthier ones so we can become more enlightened or “lighter” as we go through Life.

I’ve also found that feelings often come in layers of threes, such as fear, shame, and guilt.  Or anger, sadness, and fear.  It can be any combination of emotions.  But our lessons are leading us to the same place–our Oneness with God, Life, others, and ourselves.

…There isn’t one feeling that can’t be handled using this technique other than an occasional premonition.  But catch and release takes practice.  I’ve been working on it for years.  We’ll each get the help teacher, triggers, and support we need when the time is right, if we’re open and willing to learn.  It doesn’t matter where we live or how much money we have.  The process will find us.  The important idea is the same as when we’re fishing: we have to get the hook in the fish’s mouth.  With emotions, we have to completely surrender to and connect with the way the feeling feels.  Don’t be scared.  It’s only a feeling–emotional energy.  It won’t hurt that much, especially if you don’t resist and judge.

Remember, I’m your travel guide.  I’ve walked this path.  If I can do it, you can too.  Keep it simple.  Feel whatever we feel.

 

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