Self-acceptance, social feelings, and my own feelings

Self-acceptance is liberation. If you can accept yourself, you are free.

Something put me into a state of complete terror today. It was so frightening that I don’t want to allude to what it is. Then I saw I had made a mistake, and felt relief. I wept like a child. I wanted someone to hear me. I would share about it on social media. Or I would phone the Samaritans, to say this had happened, and I felt terror. Then I realised I did not need to. I could accept the feeling myself. I was terrified, and I understood that I was terrified, accepted that terror was completely the right reaction, and felt the terror. As a result I did not need to tell anyone. I am only telling you now to show how self-acceptance makes feelings so much more bearable and useful, not to process the terror. I don’t know how I would be if my initial impression, which terrified me so, had been correct.

Had I been unable to accept the feeling in myself I would have needed validation from someone else. “Yes,” she would say. “I can see why that might make someone feel like that. I would have been terrified too.” And I would feel validated. This might cause problems if she was bored with validating me, and did not want to, or even worse was controlling me and using intermittent validation as a way of maintaining control. It might have been different if the terror could have been used, in fight or flight, but as so often it could not. I envy my friend, who reports that for her anger is usually an instant thing. She responds to the provocation and the anger ends, its job done.

I am glad to discuss these things. When you agree with me I trust my perception better. It seemed to me that I am not properly alone with my computer. I scroll through social media or news media, and feel the appropriate thing, which society dictates. I read about masks, and I feel resentment of those bad people who refuse to wear them. Or I read about Brexit and feel fear. There are socially acceptable feelings. I am plugged into society, and feel those feelings.

In worship it is completely different. I sit in silence, and whatever comes up comes up. Then I am with my own bespoke feeling, as it is, not some off-the-peg feeling I “ought to feel”. I do not want to be alone with myself. Difficult feelings may come up. I far prefer to plug myself into the television or computer and feel feelings which are safe, because they are prescribed.

It had seemed to me that when fear is not accepted or processed, it remains, and curdles into anxiety. Anxiety is fear from the past, and it makes up horrible things which might happen, but won’t, to explain why I feel fear when I ought to feel safe. (That ought may be introjected.) Then it seemed that sorrow is curdled sadness. What was curdled anger? A conversation with a friend revealed it is Resentment.

anxiety is congealed fear
sorrow is congealed sadness
resentment is congealed anger

With time, courage and acceptance, these ancient feelings may be processed. Anger and sadness are two sides of the same coin- anger is appropriate when a quick flash of action will correct the problem, sadness when it will not. With practice, perhaps a balance of anger and sadness would help with the conundrum of the serenity prayer- “knowing the difference” is difficult.

As so often, Artemisia takes the standard female subject and makes her a woman with power and agency. Here is St Lucy with the palm of martyrdom and two eyes in a goblet.

7 thoughts on “Self-acceptance, social feelings, and my own feelings

      • An alternate caption occurred to me, as well: “I’m sure I heard you invite me up for a couple of HIGHBALLS.”

        While I, too, am disturbed by the image, I attribute my sense of humor to my pluckiness. 8)

        Liked by 1 person

    • Everything gets easier with time, I transitioned nearly 30yrs ago now. I use to be a nervous wreck going out in public, now I really don,t care less about what other people think. I did retrain as a social worker yrs ago and worked in mental health, that probably gave me confidence. I was only ever asked once when working whether I was male or female, I said I am a social worker lol.

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      • It’s lovely to see you back here.

        Yes. For me, now, though, first it gets more difficult. I feel very deeply, and have habitually suppressed feelings. So becoming conscious of them feels unsafe, feels like being on a raft in a heavy swell. But, being conscious and processing feelings as I feel them should make life easier in the long run- I hope so, anyway.

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  1. This is one of the reasons I love being part of the Quaker family. There are times I feel so overwhelmed by terror that I could just crawl in a hole and die. The comfort is having ancestors – Nayler et al – who also knew about this stuff and had found a way through,
    Art thou in the darkness? Mind it not, for if thou dost it will fill thee. But stand still, and act not, and it will fall on a sudden.
    There are times, yanked from sleep by a panic attack at 3am, that it feels as if that wave will do for me. Each time I have no choice but to wait and let it pass over or through me, knowing that every other time I have still been standing at the end, hoping against hope that this will also be one of those times. So far it’s worked…

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    • “Looking down at sin, and corruption, and distraction, you are swallowed up in it. Looking at the light that discovers them, you will see over them. That will give victory; and you will find grace and strength; and there is the first step of peace.”

      Yeah. Lots of good stuff. I want the discipline of a daily practice, and have decided I may accept it more easily with Friends. I see there is Pendle Hill worship, every day at 1.30pm BST for half an hour.

      Panic attacks are awful. At night that must be particularly bad. I feel for you.

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