Equanimity with Painful Feelings
With my partner away on silent retreat these last three weeks, I have had frequent moments of loneliness, disorientation, and melancholy. These feelings are painful, but not nearly as painful as the jackals (critical voices) that follow them.
I notice the jackals come in two types. The first argues the idea that feeling as I do means something is wrong and I should hurry up and do something about it. This creates a sense of urgency and an impulse to try to wriggle out of my skin.
The second set of jackals attack my identity. The main argument here is that if I were a more together person who was more confident, strong, evolved, etc., those feelings wouldn't come up. Unchecked, these voices leave me feeling heavy and depressed. I get the impulse to withdraw and collapse.
In response to the first set of jackals, I get immediate relief comes when I remind myself that it is okay to feel what I feel. I am big enough to feeling these feelings. In fact when I pause and just feel them as they are I create a sense of peacefulness around the painful feelings.
The next level of relief comes when I remind myself that my identity is not determined by any passing experience. I am not a worse person because I feel melancholy. I am not a better person because I feel confident and joyful. Both are just experiences that come and go. In fact my value and who I am cannot be measured by anything in this relative world. I simply exist.
If you are asking the question, "Well, if I don't create my identity by what I experience, by what I do, by how I look, or by who I hang out with, then how do I know who I am?" I would say that is a good question to have.