How to find the ‘right distance’ between you and your feelings when Focusing
Identifying with the source of awareness
In my introduction to the ‘Benefits’, I say that people who don’t find it easy to get in touch with their emotions, or who easily get overwhelmed by their emotions find a safe way, through Focusing, to relate to their feelings, which then become guides to a deeper truth, leading them to feel more alive, energised and creative.
Focusing works best when you are not so close to your feelings that you cannot see the wood for the trees, and also, you are not so far away from your feelings that they are like a foreign country to you and you know nothing about them at all.
Sometimes, I am so up against my feelings that it seems they are ‘in my face’. I am identified with what I am feeling. I will say, I feel upset, or angry, or whatever it is. Other times in the past, I may not know how I am feeling. I may think I am feeling fine and everything is OK, but then there was an explosion and I would think ‘where did that come from?’ I had not been listening and I did not recognise the signs.
What does it mean, in Focusing, to find the right distance, so you can be with what you are feeling in a caring, accepting way, without being overwhelmed by them? Sometimes it can be helpful to metaphorically ‘step back’ from your feelings. If emotions are right in your face, you can’t see the whole picture clearly. A good way to step back is to begin to describe your feelings, as simply as if you were telling someone what it looks like or how it feels. For instance, it might be like a big black cloud blotting out everything else, or an octopus putting its tentacles round my face.
These are both big overwhelming descriptions, so the next stage of ‘stepping back’ is to acknowledge it. Say, ‘I am acknowledging something in me that is like a big black cloud’ or whatever it is. This does two things. One is to support the resonating or checking process in Focusing. It is important to check the image or word with your actual bodily experience. You body will give you an indication if your word or image is correct or not. There will be a response, like an easing of tension, or another word or image may come up instead.
The second thing that acknowledging does, is to create the possibility of a positive inner relationship on your Focusing session. If you say ‘I am acknowledging that’, there is already a you, separate from what you are acknowledging. You are separating the parts of you that need attention, and placing your identification with the ‘I’, the source of awareness. You are then able to attend to the ‘black cloud’ with interest and friendly curiosity. This enables you to find a safe way to relate to your feelings, which then become guides to a deeper truth, leading you to feel more alive, energised and creative.