Feeling love (part two)
In 'Feeling love (part one)', identifying the feeling of love and acknowledging was explored. In this follow up article love, accompanied with more complex uncomfortable feelings such as fear and shame, are explored further.
Disentangling love, shame and fear feelings
It’s worth noting that we don’t choose our feelings, but we can make a choice on how we act upon them. Freud referred to the concept of the id, the part of our psyche that is unconscious and just feels without having an option to evaluate whether we should or should not be feeling this. Freud also referred to the ego, that part of us that manages feelings. We can use the ego part of us to support the unconscious id part of us, but remember we cannot push the id part of us away, we can’t stop feeling if we have a feeling, we can just suppress it. Suppressing it can often lead to that feeling popping out elsewhere, sometimes in ways that we can’t control.
Being with our feelings and accepting them gives us more choice and authenticity.
Here is a helpful suggestion or approach disentangling those awkward mixed up feelings that can come with a complicated love feeling.
1. Identify the separate feelings, love, fear and maybe shame, and acknowledge them for what they are. Write them down if necessary.
2. Then if you feel comfortable you can look at your fears and rationalise if you feel it can help, are they justified? Will you really lose control over how you act in relation to the feeling? Write them down if necessary.
3. If the answer is yes then what implications will this have for either love F, love O (discussed in part one of this article), and of course yourself. What do you feel about those implications? Write them down if necessary.
4. Taking this all into consideration, can you make a conscious decision to act, or not, in the way you feel is best, at that time, taking into consideration your feelings for all your love, love F, love O and of course yourself. This might be doing something about it or it might be sticking with how things are right now. Can you allow yourself to accept this love and choose to act on it or not.
At this point it is important to really tap into what you actually feel rather than what you think you should be feeling. It’s only by making a connection with our true feelings that we can truly be ourselves and move forward. Getting caught up in thinking that your feelings are bad and should be different or that your feelings of fear are actually real, can cause a block in your ability to consciously acknowledge what you are truly feeling; this can deceive your true self and leave you stuck.
If you feel that love O is driving your feelings of love more, more than love F, but you feel you should be feeling more about love F, then you are probably doing a bit of mixed ice cream and vinegar, love and guilt. An important thing to acknowledge here is that your love, the feeling, is not bad or shameful, there is no ‘should’ or ‘should not’. You don’t need to fear the feeling of love itself. However, how you act upon it can be different, remembering that you always have choice over actions. Of course if we feel we need to move on from an established love, say love F, because our love for O is to great, then there will also be consequences and these may bring feelings of sadness and fear. However, the sadness and fear is not the same as the feeling of love and our chosen actions and the associated consequences of them are not necessarily going to be the same as the ones we envisage they will be when we anticipate them within our fears.
We can make a sensible choice while feeling full blown love
So after acknowledging how we feel, it is possible to make choices if needs be. It's worth noting that when we are little and the part of our brain that Freud referee to as the id, the very unconscious part of our personality, does not differentiate between good and bad, it just feels. We all have this part of our personality and it means we don’t really choose what we feel because its such an unconscious process. What we can do is make decisions on how to manage our actions in relation to those feelings. Below can be a one way to view our feelings and make choices around the typical complicated love described above.
a) We can stay with love F, after acknowledging that we have this other love too, love O. We can hold this in mind and be with it; we don’t have to push the feeling of love away if we feel we don’t want too, that can make things worse. We can just simply acknowledge that it’s still there and act in the way we choose, taking into consideration love F, love O and of course ourselves.
Alternatively, the other option is...
b) We can choose to make a big change; if we choose to move away from either Love F or O, to make more space for one of them, we can choose to do this too. True, this process will not be a simple or straight forward process, it will probably bring difficult feelings with it for many, but it will be something we have chosen to do and have control over, it will be a choice made with personal self awareness, personal integrity. When these choices are thought about deeply and then made they are often made with deep inner strength. These choices later in life are often then perceived as moments of wisdom, as often when considering letting go of something we really also love, it’s not usually done on a whim. Often when people look back on these profound life changing experiences in life, they find some of their deepest learnt lessons and then earned wisdom.
c) we can do something in the middle of both options a and b, whatever that might be. And even more exciting, we can change our minds further down the road if we wish because what we choose at one point in time may not be the right choice further down the road, as things change.
Whatever we choose it needs to be about what we truly feel is right at that time; it’s ok to change a choice in the future too. Above all there is always an option of considered choice and it’s helpful to remember, in the face of shame and fear, that we have the right and ability to make the choice we make in the name of our feeling of love.
Discovering true love and loving it
The process above may sound very rational when considering the feelings around love. However, maybe breaking down the feelings that come with complex love, allows you to separate the difficult awkward feelings around this love, put them to one side, so you can then stop, take a proper look and then just feel and acknowledging your lovely love feelings.
Now that you have put aside the complex feelings attached to the love, now that you have separated the vinegar from the ice cream, can you put whatever you love in the chair again, in front of you, in your imagination, and just simply acknowledge it? If you can and want to you can sit with this for a bit and see how it feels for you now to just be allowed to love what you love, free of guilt, shame or fear.
Sometimes being in love can leave us feeling hurt and rejected and this can bring fear too. We can feel fear and shame around love for a number of different reasons but it’s important to separate the feelings. If we can’t separate the feelings, specifically the powerful feeling of love, that love feeling can get contaminated with other darker feelings of shame and fear. These feelings of shame and fear can also become very powerful as the merge with the strong and powerful love feelings. These darker feelings can be disruptive, leaving us no room to love, for fear of experiencing the other feelings too.
Sometimes doing this process, outlined above, can best be done with the help of a trusted experienced person, such as a counsellor, over time and this can work very well in therapy. However, it is also possible to try working through some of these issues yourself, in a quiet safe space, over time, with enough time and little distraction.
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About Penny Wright
My name is Penny. I am an integrative counsellor (registered MBACP) with a friendly and gentle manner. I can draw upon a wide range of therapeutic tools as an integrative counsellor. This can help you with the issues you wish to work through in counselling in a way that truly is geared to your very personal needs.