P1 In order to know yourself on a deeper level, it becomes increasingly necessary to allow all emotions to reach surface awareness, so as to understand these emotions and to enable them to mature. Most human beings look mainly after the physical self. They do more or less what is necessary to make it grow and remain healthy. A good portion of humanity cultivates the mental side. In order to do so you learn, you use your brain, your thinking capacity; you absorb, you train your memory and your logical reasoning. But why is the emotional nature generally neglected?
The capacity to experience feeling is synonymous with the capacity to give and receive happiness. To the degree you shy away from any kind of emotional experience, to that extent you also close the door to the experience of happiness. Moreover, the emotional side of your nature, when functioning, possesses creative ability. To the degree you close yourself off from emotional experience, to that very degree the full potential of your creative ability is hindered in manifesting itself.
Contrary to what many of you may believe, the unfolding of creative ability is not a mere mental process. In fact, the intellect has much less to do with it than may appear at first glance, in spite of the fact that technical skill also becomes a necessity in order to give the creative outflow full expression. Creative unfoldment is an intuitive process.
P2 In the world of feeling you experience the good and the bad, the happy and the unhappy, pleasure and pain. Contrary to just registering such impressions mentally, emotional experience really touches you. Since your struggle is primarily for happiness, and since immature emotions lead to unhappiness, your secondary aim becomes the avoidance of unhappiness. This creates the early, mostly unconscious conclusion: “If I do not feel, then I will not be unhappy.”
Unhappy circumstances exist in every child’s life; pain and disappointment are common. If such pains and disappointments are not experienced consciously, they are allowed to stagnate in a vague, dull climate you cannot even name but take for granted. Although it may be true that you can anesthetize your capacity for emotional experience, and therefore cannot feel immediate pain, it is also true that you dull your capacity for happiness and pleasure while not really avoiding the dreaded unhappiness in the long run.
P3 The love and fulfillment you must increasingly crave for makes you blame others, circumstances, the fates, or bad luck, instead of seeing how you are responsible for it. You resist such insight because you sense that the moment you see it fully you will have to change and you can no longer cling to the comfortable, but unrealizable hope that you can have what you want without meeting the necessary conditions to get it.
Let me give you an example on the physical level: an infant will feel the strong urge to use its vocal cords. It has an instinct with the function of promoting the growth of certain organic matter through strong use of the vocal chords. It is not pleasant to hear a baby screaming, but this period of transition leads to strong healthy organs in this particular respect.
P4 This will not happen through a process of will, an outer mental decision which represses what is still a part of your emotional being, but through an organic process of emotional growth wherein feelings will naturally change their direction, their aim, their intensity, their nature. But this can only be done if you experience your emotions as they exist in you now. You all operate—some more, some less—with feelings that are not genuinely yours, with feelings you think you ought to have but do not have. Only in times of extreme crisis do these actual feelings reach the surface. Then you believe it is the crisis that has caused these reactions in you. You wish to ignore the fact that the crisis only made it impossible for you to deceive yourself,
P5 Immature emotions earned you punishment as a child; either they caused you actual pain, or produced an undesired result when you expressed them. You lost something you wanted, such as the affection of certain people, or a desired object which became unattainable when you expressed what you really felt. This then became an additional reason for you to hinder self-expression. Consequently, as you perceived such emotions to be undesirable, you proceeded to whisk them also out of your own sight.
You found it necessary to do so because you did not want to be hurt, you did not wish to experience the pain of feeling unhappy. You also found it necessary to repress existing emotions because the expression of the negative produced an undesirable result. But your error lies in the conscious or unconscious thought that to be aware of what you feel and to give vent to it in action are one and the same. You cannot discriminate between the two courses. Neither can you discriminate between a constructive aim for which it is necessary to express and talk about what you feel, at the right place, with the right people, and the destructiveness of heedlessly letting go all control, of not choosing the right aim, the right place, and the right people, of not wanting to use such expression as would yield you insight into yourself.
What has not been properly assimilated in emotional experience but has instead been repressed will constantly be reactivated by present situations. These remind you in one way or another of the original “solution” that brought on such unassimilated experience in the first place. Such a reminder may not be factual. It can be an emotional climate, a symbolic association that lodges exclusively in the subconscious. With this may come the realization that you often actually feel very much the opposite of what you force yourself to feel.
P6 This is the only way emotions can mature. By going through the period that was missed in childhood and adolescence, the emotions will finally mature and you will no longer need to fear the power of those emotions which you cannot control by merely putting them out of awareness. You will also learn to discriminate between genuine good feelings and the false good feelings that you superimpose out of the need to maintain your idealized self-image: “This is the way I should be.” Because you cling to this idealized self-image, you cannot find your real self, and do not have the courage to accept that a comparatively large area of your personality is still childish, incomplete, and imperfect.
P9 the strong impact of negative emotions, to the point where you fear that you are unable to handle them, is due not so much to their existence per se but due to the lack of acceptance on your part of the fact that you are not your idealized self. Find the area in which you resent not being taken care of, not being given all you want. Once you are aware of the reason for all this anger, you will be able to humor yourself because you will see the preposterous demands of the child in you.
Find in yourself where you are angry at the world for not allowing you to be your idealized self-image, where you feel it prevents you from being what you could be without its interference. If you are hurt, know it. Know why. It will not harm you, because the next step in your development will be that you realize that your own lack of understanding causes the hurt and therefore the hatred. As you grow in the way of this path, little by little the negative emotions will disappear. But while they are still present, you must forgive yourself.
P10 It is very easy to have the wrong approach when it comes to controlling negative emotions. With a good intent to channel and to neutralize, one often resorts to repression and the crippling of an essential part of one’s human nature.
—The Pathwork® Guide