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Telling Stories to Avoid Feeling

Updated: Sep 9, 2021

Here’s an example: The neighbor’s dog runs out into the street and gets hit by a car. I’m devastated. It brings up grief for the family, for the shortening of the dog’s life and the memory of my dog, Elsa, who was also hit and killed by a car. It probably also brings up fear that Beatrice (the current four-legged) will do the same thing.

What the mind likes to do in this situation is to protect us from the feelings. It will do that by making up stories about why that happened. “They weren’t watching the dog close enough.” “They didn’t take the time to train the dog.” “They must have left the gate open.” These are all made up stories (whether there’s an element of truth to them or not) to try to protect ourselves from our own feelings of fear and grief.

It would be one thing if this strategy worked. But it doesn’t. All it does it send our feelings underground, where they lodge in our bodies, to be processed at another time (and/or to create physical illness).

The choice instead requires courage. Let go of the stories and feel your feelings. Welcome the sadness and the accompanying sensations and welcome the fear of losing your loved one. When we welcome and allow feelings, they move through very quickly. It’s the resistance to them that keeps them hanging around.

We can also notice when those around us are making up stories to protect themselves. When we can see through those stories (especially if the story includes blaming us), we can recognize that he or she is probably scared at some level. When we can see our loved one as a scared child, it’s much easier to have compassion for them.

To help move through the feelings, rather than make up a story that doesn’t serve, practice simply opening to the sensations in your body and see what happens.

And give yourself some approval for the courage it might take to be with the feeling!

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