Author -- Giordana Toccaceli
This is a little throwback blog of something I wrote a couple of years ago. I still think it has some valuable insights, let me know if they resonated with you! Enjoy!
We all feel that moment sometimes when an emotion hits us so strongly it threatens to overwhelm us. We feel like a dark out of control part of us emerges and we don't like it. We try to repress this moment or deny it, numb it out often times with an addiction such as to food or even worse, an addiction to being a victim.
Life is beautiful because it offers us a multitude of experiences that make us feel a multitude of feelings. It is when we feel that we are most alive. Giving our feelings the attention and inquiry they deserve helps us to learn how to engage them in our favor and discover what is behind them and at the root of our pain. This self awareness gives us the power to shift our perspective and our emotional state.
Next time you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the sheer force of the anxiety, worry or fear you are feeling, stay present with yourself long enough to explore what is really going on by locating three things:
What are you feeling in that exact moment? Can you locate the feeling in your body? Is it in your stomache, in your chest? Is your body tense and contracted? When you stop to locate the feeling in your body, you become grounded and connected again, allowing for the feeling of being out of control to dissipate. Next try and verbalize the feeling as exactly as you can. What is it? Stop and breathe long enough until you formulate the words to describe it.
- "I'm terrified of being alone."
- "I feel disrespected."
- "I feel rejected."
- "I do not feel safe."
As you connect through awareness to the feeling, you bring the focus back to what is in your control... what goes on inside of you. As you allow yourself the permission to acknowledge the feeling, it can then slowly pass through you and leave because you have received the message it was trying to give you.
The Unmet Need
I believe human beings are absolutely driven by needs. As living beings taking in life and then giving it out, we are dependent on spiritual, mental, emotional and physical nourishment. I believe some of our biggest pain comes from needs we have that we hoped others would meet at one time or another. After you have verbalized the feeling that you are experiencing, however painful it is, can you then map out the need that wasn't met? Where were you left hanging somehow? What expectation were you hoping for that didn't happen?
- "He wasn't there for me and I needed his support." I need support.
- "She was cutting with her words, I needed her respect." I need respect.
- "I was hoping to be accepted by the group, I needed their acceptance." I need acceptance.
- "I am financially stressed out, I need financially security." I need security.
The most important thing is to refrain from judging yourself for the vulnerability of having a need and give yourself the compassionate understanding that having needs is human. You can then begin to explore other options for meeting those needs and that is powerful.
Why is it so important to understand the need you are trying to meet? Because you will not stop trying to meet this need and the only two options left to us are to meet it in a positive way or in a dysfunctional way (i.e addictions & destructive behaviors.)
The Underlying Belief
As we go through the ups and downs of life, through the highs and lows, if we do not properly set the "emotional" bones that were broken through trauma and pain, the wounds do not properly heal. In their shadow remain subconscious beliefs that we have formed to make ourselves feel safe in this world. The problem is the very beliefs that at one time made you feel safe can now be limiting you from having the best life you can have.
Once you have located the feeling and mapped out the unmet need, the next step is to see the underlying, subconscious belief that is the source of pain.
- "He wasn't there fore me, therefore I don't matter."
- "She was cutting with her words, therefore I am worthy of being disrespected and abandoned."
- "I wasn't accepted therefore I cannot trust anyone."
- "I have no money therefore I am not safe!"
There are many reasons why we create and accrue limiting beliefs. Wounds, hurt, trauma, rejection are just a few. The reason why we keep these beliefs though is because they meet a need. At one time you may have needed to be distrusting of people, but now that distrust is only isolating you from the fullness of relationship.
Come full Circle
Through this process of self inquiry we examine our limiting beliefs and can therefore replace them with better more life-giving ones. Just like any muscle requires exercise to form and strengthen, our emotional, empowerment and belief muscles require work, growth and maturation. So when it comes to replacing these beliefs, refer back to needs and ask yourself what needs are met when you keep your limiting beliefs and what are the real results of keeping these beliefs:
What need is met when I believe that I don't matter? ------"Well I feel justified in playing it safe, justified in resenting others for having things I want, instead of making myself responsible for finding ways to have them."
Results: I cheat myself of love... and life without love is pretty miserable.
What need is met by believing that I am worthy of being disrespected and abused? ------- "I can stay dependent on others to define who I am, and therefore I can stay comfortable, without having to go through the growing pains of maturing into self-esteem."
Results: I perpetuate a cycle of disrespect and abuse by being a victim. I teach people how to value me based on how I value myself.
What need is met by believing I cannot trust anyone?---------- "I can disconnect from people in order to feel safe within the little shell of my existence and justify not having to expand into a greater capacity for relating and loving others. I am also again placing the onus on others to make me happy which relieves me of the responsibility to make myself happy."
Results: I stay disconnected from the infinite possibilities life has to offer me through others.
What would happen if you gave yourself the space to feel your feelings deeply?
What would happen if you gave yourself the compassion to allow yourself to have needs and the empowerment in being proactive with how to meet them? (Here is a hint: If you have a need, it can be met.)
What would happen if you faced your limiting beliefs that come up moment by moment and owned the responsibility of choosing better beliefs, like:
- "I DO matter."
- "I will NEVER be abandoned because I cannot abandon myself."
- "There are many people who I can come to trust, I just need to meet them and give them a chance."