NOTE: I didn’t write to God because I expected God to change things for me. (I don’t believe in that type of God.) I wrote the prayer to the highest ideals that I hold dear, because I know that when we engage in real earnest prayer, the one who prays is changed. (There’s lots about what real prayer is in my first book, How to Find Out What (the) God (of your understanding) Wants From You. If you haven’t read it, you ought to — despite the long title, it’s pretty good.)
Five paragraphs into my stream-of-consciousness-prayer, a favorite Robert Frost quote came to mind: The best way out is usually through. This thought occurred to me, “What if I embrace my feelings? Why not just sit with the panic . . . lean into it?”
So, I did. I chose to place the fleshy part of my palm on my cheeks, my fingers covering my eyes. I bowed my head toward my chest, and I found myself starting to cry. I dove in to the feelings. I allowed my panic and fear to wash over me. And, to my amazement, it didn’t last forever. In reality it lasted all of 40 seconds.
Then, looking like a two-year-old who has just finished a tantrum-with tears still damp on my cheeks-I felt my countenance lift. The feelings of panic had disappeared.
- Do you see how this experience relates to the previous articles on freedom?
We know that we are able to choose our reaction to the external forces in our lives. We have choices as to how we react when we’re at a restaurant and our salad arrives with the wrong dressing. We can rage at the waiter, politely request a change, accept it and enjoy something unexpected, or a myriad of other options.
Are we not similarly able to choose how we react with regard to our internal emotional lives?
Feelings we were neither expecting nor desiring, like salads with wrong dressings on them, will come.
What will you choose?
Are you willing to feel sad when you are sad . . . to feel angry when you are angry . . . and to feel overwhelmed when you are overwhelmed?
Or will you ignore your true feelings by pretending everything is fine . . . even when it’s not?
Spiritual-religious advice: Be free to experience what it is that you experience; even if you don’t like it.