Facing the Fear of Forbidden Feelings
By Cindee Pascoe
The crippling awe of deep grief, the cleansing power of righteous anger, the burst of joyful exhilaration at a physical feat or difficult goal accomplished—these are movements of energies in the body, the fuel that ignites the heart. Our heart beats wildly, slows achingly, or feels pierced. Feelings are what make us truly human.
What we sometimes forget is that feelings also are what make us truly divine.
Because we are familiar with words that describe feelings, we can tend to believe that we need not surrender to the actual feeling, that our understanding of “sadness,” for example, is sufficient. Why subject ourselves to feelings again and again?
We see starving infants or struggling refugees on the nightly news; but to truly feel the horror each evening would render us broken and unable to finish preparing dinner for the family, or pay the monthly bills. How could we afford to feel so much? So we send off a donation to Save the Children and, conscience clearer, go about our business.
Willingly we blind ourselves to the pain of the world. What value can there be in torturing ourselves about things we can’t affect or control? We vote, pay taxes, and do our small part. We need to be realistic! We need to keep our “heads” about us. To crumble under the suffering of the world does no one any good. We retreat to the pragmatic equation: If I do good, I don’t need to feel bad.
But by sidestepping feelings, we miss the most valuable and precious means available for our transformation into Christ consciousness. Jesus felt feelings in his human body. He felt deeply and totally. He showed how surrender to human feelings ignites the heart.
Through complete immersion in the human experience, divine love is born. Jesus incarnated in order to feel—in order to open the human heart—which had been closed by fear and the belief in separation. He showed us that, through attention to feeling—through a relationship with feeling—wisdom comes, and love becomes the new and natural state of being.
When not denied, feelings cause movement of energy in the body. They respond to our mind’s decisions, unleashing a flow of hormones and subtle channels of non-thought intelligence. With their participation, we become whole. We have done with feelings what we have done with all things in our dualistic world—judged them as “good” or “bad.” Yet neither the body, nor thoughts, nor feelings are good or bad. In themselves they are neutral, as students of A Course in Miracles know well, but we give them all the meaning they have for us.
Feelings, when allowed to participate in our life, open the heart, bringing understanding and the experience of wholeheartedness. When a feeling has been truly felt, something new is born. Something is that wasn’t before. Feeling feelings is a divine act, an act of creation.
There’s a profound misunderstanding at work here.
You do not yet believe nor understand that the urges that you feel are real, and neither good nor bad. Your feelings in truth come from love, your response to them is what is guided by fear. Even feelings of destruction and violence come from love. You are not bad and you have no feelings that can be labeled so. Yet you are misguided concerning what your feelings mean and how they would bring love to you and you to love. A Course of Love, C:5.11
We know that feelings cause movement in the body. This is largely why we hesitate to let them have their way with us. We are afraid that if we don’t control them, rein them in, we will turn maudlin or hysterical, or worse, frighteningly furious. Or we might be deemed narcissistic or self-absorbed. So we tamp feelings down. We are “reasonable.”
For a small child, feelings are fresh and very near the surface. If allowed to express, children will move quickly and completely from joy to rage to disappointment. These energies move through their bodies and they remain in a natural state of love.
But as they grow, few children continue to experience this luxury. Well-meaning parents exert their influence and judgments: “That’s nothing to cry about!” “Don’t use that angry voice with me!” “Stop whining—it’s just a little scratch!” We are taught early to shut feelings down. It’s what being a good boy or a good girl is.
By adulthood these patterns are so ingrained that we are oblivious to their damage. We age; we have illnesses; we feel mysteriously dull or depressed much of the time. Never do we suspect that we are doing this to ourselves by depriving ourselves of our most constant and available natural resource—our very own feelings. Like our Earth’s misused resources, they have become dark and stagnant.
Feelings have become the new buzzword for some time now, from meditations designed to bring us to heightened states, to studies of the elasticity of the brain and how to reconfigure neural pathways. Feelings are once again valued for “what they can do” to improve life, to allow a more positive experience. They are something we “must consider” if we want to heal. We might do cathartic workshops to “purge” them, to “transform” them, to “clean up the swamp” of our sick psyches. Or we might learn to leash them, to manipulate ourselves to manufacture the right feelings to invite abundance and wellbeing, and train ourselves to “ignore” the ones that are downers.
All feelings are eager to be seen, to be participants in our lives. As the love they are, feelings are patient. They have been patient for 2000 years. Like a starving child, ignored and forgotten in a dark cellar, or a beautiful maiden, languishing and yearning under lock and key in a sultan’s harem, denied feelings will hang onto life as long as they can. They remain forever hopeful of your remembrance.
Denied feelings are magnets that draw to you experiences to get your attention. That emaciated infant on the news, that story about child trafficking, those horrific statistics of domestic violence, or the egregious imbalances in the world—man and woman, rich and poor, black and white—will inevitably come to your awareness. If you are lucky you will “break” and allow the dam of feelings to spill—sometimes, unfortunately, only when conditions become very personal, like a life-threatening car accident, a doctor’s diagnosis.
Even then, many of us are so staunchly conditioned toward denial that we still do not budge, ignorantly or stubbornly choosing death itself rather than release of feelings.
This need not be. Back up! Instead of “trying” to love others, truly love yourself. But not with only half of ourselves. Our spirit—our head, our mind, our intellect—is well-developed. Our feeling body, in comparison, is wounded, deformed, neglected. Feed the starving infant! Let the beautiful maiden dance for you! Invite them into your heart and into your life. Allow them to enrich you with joy and compassion.
You may need a desert moment, a closet moment. You may need to allow yourself the privacy and freedom to feel. Feeling, itself, is not difficult to access. It is “dying” to be received by you, to be welcomed into your life. The difficulty comes with your pre-judgment of what might happen if feeling is allowed. Will it be messy? Will it be loud? Will it be uncomfortable? This is not feeling but fear of feeling. You fear something because you anticipate you will not feel good if you experience it.
Once you begin consciously to explore this, you may be very surprised to find it not to be the case, and that all feelings dissolve into love.
It is in understanding the relationship that exists between what you feel and what you do that love’s lessons are learned. Each feeling requires that you enter into a relationship with it, for it is there you will find love. ACOL C:5.12
Humanity is ready to take on this loving task, the task of self-love, the necessary first relationship, both the first act and the first cause of creation. Allow feeling to be the playmate for self-growth. Allow feelings, with your loving presence, to become the soulmate to a healed mind, joined in the chamber of the heart as the bride in a divine marriage.
Cindee Pascoe is a former teacher, journalist, columnist, and workshop facilitator. She is a mother to two and grandmother to five. She lived in A Course in Miracles community from 1995 to 2000, immersed herself in The Right Use of Will teachings for many years thereafter, and is currently mostly preoccupied with A Course of Love. She finds the combination of all three texts provides the constantly evolving understanding of her experience of Self.
By MaryBeth Scalice
I know Jesus (one in Being with our Father) as life right here, now. But I sometimes try to find him in my old learning, in some form from the past. I seek Him in ways obsolete and unfruitful. The holy instant helps me remember to feel for Him indwelling mySelf. This morning, at the entrance to stillness I heard:
Stop searching for me.
Stop seeking frantically.
I am come as your Queendom,
Your Paradise restored.
Do not look further
but rest in What is given.
Rest in What is Yours.
Adoration* does not journey,
Her heart not wanting,
Her soul not unsure.
Adoration simply adores,
having cast off the limits,
the bodies, the frames
and in this Holy Instant beams
the splendiferous Rays of Christ.
Shall we talk of the way,
the means of arrival?
Or shall we bask
and bathe our hearts
in the Light of Our Father.
This is no gentleman’s embrace.
The hug of His Love
a complete caress,
the gentleness that leaves no little
unhappiness, no unforgiveness,
a softness that gives Us
Love has touched
every particle of your being,
waiting for Your perfection to awake,
already holding your Yes (!)
caressing your passioned consent
as We cross and bless
the threshold of unification,
comingling in appreciation
of the God-child, the Brides of glory,
the realized and Holy Relationship
of human and Creator Blessed.
Your search is over,
the diamond found.
in the utterly free field
of the jewel of all possibility,
Our Relationship shines,
attracting to it every lover of God,
every believer in beauty,
every desirous heart.
Irresistibly alluring to those
who have trusted Love,
We give it Reign.
This is Our holy instant this morning,
One perpetually blazing Thought
of indescribably beautiful appeal …
your Holy Beloved unlost, unsought,
forever in Love with You.
*Adoration is the name the Father has given my soul.
MaryBeth Scalice, M.A., Ed.D., views her life as a living-breathing poem of God. Many years ago, her heart opened, her listening deepened, the breath fell away, and divine union was realized. MaryBeth is a counselor, writer, and teacher trained in humanistic and transpersonal psychology. Her work integrates psychology with spirituality, offering transformational heart-centered therapies for health and self-realization. She created the Foundation of Open Hearts, and in 2019 published Write, Beloved, Write.