One of a series of exercises and reflections for expanding the benefits of mapping and moving one or more feeling states…
We tend to think of ourselves as individuals, with our interior clearly separated from our exterior. However, fully one third of our feeling parts are specifically oriented toward what is outside of us, and an additional third are oriented toward the whole which includes us. Only three out of nine parts governing our experience of being a self in the world are concerned with what is inside of us.
It is more accurate to think of ourselves as a dynamic balance between inside, outside, and context. And so as we release inner patterns, as we change the inner configuration of feeling parts, we find our relationship with the outside world changing. Our relationships change, our preferences for food and furniture and landscapes change, our satisfaction with various activities changes.
In doing the work of Feelingwork, it is natural for us to gradually evolve our outer lives to more fully match our inner lives. But sometimes that natural evolution can be obstructed. If we live in a situation in which we have very little power to make those changes, if we are confined to a rigid structure of relationship, of job, of home, of community, then we may find our inner work stifled. We may do the necessary work to free the inner feeling parts, but because we are unable to make the necessary changes to our lives to mirror our greater inner freedom, we may continue to feel many of the challenging states that defined our pattern in the first place. The difference is, those reactive states may now be freely and accurately providing feedback about the state of balance in our world. But because we are not free to take the action to restore that balance, we may find ourselves slipping back into a rigid inner configuration.
In these cases, it can be very important to draw the focus of change inward. Even though it might be difficult or impossible to change external circumstances, one thing that no person or circumstance can take from you is the freedom you have within your own heart and spirit. If you bring the focus of your change inward as much as possible, there is the hope to move forward with your inner freedom despite your circumstances. It is not an easy path, but it is one with its own special rewards.
At the same time, we need to take into consideration one of the key lessons of Feelingwork, that we human beings are incredibly complex and multi-layered. Perhaps you worked through a set of states regarding your frustrations at work, but feel yourself trapped in the toxic environment that spawned these frustrations. Maybe it’s the best paying job in your field, or you’d have to move somewhere else to get something better, or you want to hold onto your pending retirement benefits.
But maybe it only looks limited from where you are. And maybe where you are is holding an even deeper inner structure that tells you frustration is simply baked into life, and there’s no way out of it. Unless you shift your attention to that deeper layer, you won’t see the opportunities and possibilities that are available.
So let’s say you do shift to that deeper layer, and you work through a more existential sense of never having access to what you truly need. In its place arises a sense of abundance and clarity. And now from this new place, you look around at your job situation and you see things you never considered before. Maybe it’s time to start your own business, or to put your energy into a new passion, or step back to half-time for a while and take stock of your life.
These layers are always present, always part of the work. We work through one layer, expand our awareness and freedom, find ourselves in new territory and — bump! — we’re up against a new challenge. That’s life. That’s Feelingwork.
In many cases, when you finish working through a set of feeling states, you’ll have strong impulses for change, and you’ll have the freedom to make those changes. In those situations, I encourage you to be thoughtful about the changes you do make. Take your time. Include others in your deliberations. Create a clear vision for yourself but focus on your next steps, allowing the vision to evolve as your current circumstances evolve.
There is no way for you to fully know from where you stand today what future is fully yours to inhabit. Getting there is a unfolding process, one step at a time. We’ll take a closer look at that natural, spontaneous unfolding in tomorrow’s article.