Booster Technique: Inauthentic and Authentic Emotions
Posted Oct 09 2009 10:00pm
When it comes to healing and understanding our negative emotions, there is one important thing to realise: Some of our feelings are inauthentic.They cover up other feelings, beliefs, and inner states.
This might seem like a basic idea to understand, but the real difficulty comes in facing up to it – there is often a good reason we are covering them up in the first place. But there comes a time, when we are strong enough, to remove these defences and see what is underneath. What really needs to be healed?
A Personal Example
This might be better explained with an example. I’ve written many times of a man who took up a lot of my mental space. He once persuaded me into doing a free draft for him in my design business, and then verbally abused me on the phone for ten minutes – while I sat there in shock – when he didn’t like what I have spent hours doing for free. I hated this man for years, constantly reliving what he said, fantasising about revenge. And yet it made no sense. Others had done far worse, and all I felt was some annoyance.
Why did I remain stuck in my hatred? All the emotional work I’ve done over the past few years has removed a large portion of it, but some of the remaining hatred refused to dissolve. The answer was simple. My remaining hatred was inauthentic – the real hatred I had felt for him had been healed a long time ago; what remained was a cover for the authentic feelings underneath.
What I really had to feel, to heal, was a feeling of worthlessness. These thoughts had actually come into my head many times, but they were so painful that I pushed them away.
He is an asshole, he is abusive, it is all his fault, I was the nice guy. Painful as these thoughts might be, they were a lot safer to me than I deserve it, I am worthless and I don’t deserve fair treatment and respect from anybody.
And yet, in the end, these were the feelings and thoughts I had to look at in order to heal. Ken Wilber once suggested that my inauthentic hatred will never go away, for these authentic feelings were underneath them, forever creating more. Even more important, Michael Ryce has stated that emotional pain take its toll, even if we are not conscious of them. Not only was I stuck in my inauthentic hatred, but the feelings underneath were hurting me too!
(By the way, facing these thoughts was simply to heal them – it didn’t mean that they were true and I was worthless. This is important to realise, for these hesitations were what caused me to be stuck in the first place.)
Now, on to the actual process. This is a booster technique, to be used in conjunction with the Core Practice of Welcoming and Releasing our Emotions. If you haven’t read or tried that technique yet, please do so.
It is important not to get caught up in the example I gave above. It was only to illustrate the point – what is underneath your particular feeling could be anything. Allow yourself to be surprised. It’s not always guilt that lies underneath fear, or love that lies underneath hatred, or whatever. Be open to your own experience, and see for yourself – don’t go in there with any preconceptions.
Think of an issue or emotion that you have been struggling with. Now, feel it fully. Emotions often come with sensations, pictures and sounds. Where is it in your body? What does it feel like? Just let it be there, intensify it.
Then ask yourself some of these questions:
If I couldn’t feel this way, what would I feel?
What am I trying to hide with this feeling?
What is underneath this feeling?
What is at the core of this feeling?
Don’t try to think about it or analyse it in your head. Feel it. It might take some time for a new feeling to come through. That’s fine; this might take some getting used to. However, please keep in mind that not all emotions are inauthentic, sometimes there just isn’t anything hiding underneath.
And whatever arises, heal that with the Core Practice. It can also be an eye-opener to ask what is underneath even that new emotion, too.
Different Aspects of the Same Issue
It is helpful to do this process several times, especially for issues that are very strong or have been around for a long time. Often, there are several hidden emotions/beliefs that gather around the heavier topics.
For instance, another strong set of authentic emotions around my client was fear and guilt. In the depths of my depression and anger, many years ago, I had acted out in the same way he did. I even used the same growling tone of voice he used. In Jungian terms, he embodied my shadow. I had flashes of a realisation – Oh my god, I am just like him! But I could not consciously admit this until recently; I was hiding behind my lifelong “nice guy” image. Getting in touch with my authentic states would mean destroying a self-image I had held on to for most of my life. But I had to, or I could not heal.
And on this goes. Sometimes even positive emotions can be hidden, if we somehow feel them unacceptable. In other explorations, I found – illogical as it might seem – that fear and dislike can hide and cover up feelings of rejection. And what is underneath that rejection? That’s right. Affection, sometimes even love.
I hope that helped. While this is a pretty safe technique – the worst I’ve experienced doing it is lots of nausea – I am aware that there is often a good reason we are covering something up in the first place. I have been doing stuff like this for a while now and am very lucky to be friends with professional psychotherapists who can be my 24-hour support, so I feel safe exploring some of this more painful material.
However, let me be paranoid here and draw your attention to the usual disclaimer. Please consult a qualified mental health professional before trying it, especially if you have a history of traumatic experiences or mental illnesses. This article is for informational purposes only, and you alone are responsible for what you do with it. The author cannot take responsibility for any harm that arises. Always be safe, and stop if anything gets too uncomfortable.