I remember when I was younger and I was upset, my mother used to say, “Do you need a pat?” She’d ask me to sit next to her and she’d stroke my back.
On retreat with Pema Chodron, I learned a cool metaphor in regards to how to handle upsets and I couldn’t help but think of my mother.
Let’s pretend you’re holding your hand in a fist. And let’s say this fist represents your bottled-up feelings. Perhaps that’s anger, frustration, guilt, irritation, impatience, or something else.
Now imagine you took your other hand and gently patted the hand that’s in the fist.
The fist may not like that . . . so it punches the palm of the other hand.
Your free hand continues to lovingly pat your fist, which becomes defensive and hits up against your open hand again.
But after the free hand keeps gently patting the fist for a while, the fist eventually DOES soften. It DOES let go. And the upset, which created the fist’s tension in the first place, dissipates.
Simply send any aggravation you feel patience, kindness, and tenderness.
Because often, what’s underneath the bottled-up feeling is simply a need for loving attention.
Even though many men are conditioned not to cry, women have been conditioned not to as well. In this western world of equality, we don’t want to be judged as “too emotional.”
We want to stand for our jobs, our children and have a social impact.
It can be hard to express vulnerability. We take on a lot. And we feel like we have to keep it together because we have daily responsibilities.
Sometimes, we get angry rather than allow ourselves to touch the soft, tender places we feel inside.
We suppress it with all kinds of things like work, food, talking, analysis, etc. Impatience, irritation and frustration are more ways that we cover up what’s really going on.
Justifying our reactions causes upset and comes from our mind — NOT our heart center.
And it’s the heart the fist most resists.
9 times out of 10, I discover after giving my emotions a little “pat”, perhaps along with a simple cry, gentle pressure gets released. I’m back at peace, feeling relieved.
THE POINT IS TO ASK:
What am I feeling underneath my upset?
Give yourself permission to embrace it, softly. What you feel isn’t so bad. It passes quickly with a gentle touch.
Wishing you a feel-good kinda week!