On Trusting What You Feel

On the spiritual path we’re often told that happiness is ‘an inside job’ and that we can’t rely on other people or outer circumstances to make us feel good. This is true and it’s only part of the picture. Paradoxically, certain life experiences allow us to connect more easily to our innate joy than others.

Feeling good may ultimately be ‘an inside job’ but when we tune into how we feel moment-to-moment, we can’t overlook the fact that certain people, places, and experiences light us up while others dim our natural exuberance.

Does this mean that we should work at feeling good in places or with people that we don’t because our happiness is our responsibility? Maybe sometimes, but If I don’t feel good in crowded public spaces I shouldn’t necessarily make heroic efforts to go in with ear plugs or blinders on to try to make myself feel good in a situation that I don’t. A saner approach is to respect the ‘feeling feedback’ that I get from the experience and to recognize that I don’t access my contentment most easefully in busy public spaces. With that information, I can then decide to not frequent bustling places as an act of respect towards myself.

I don’t need to make myself wrong for not enjoying them. I also don’t need to judge others who enjoy crowds. We are all unique in the people, places, and experiences that resonate with us. Our affinities and aversions are messengers from soul, letting us know how close we are to our true path.

My wise-woman mother told me (again) this morning that life is very simple. That it boils down to knowing the kind of life that you want to live, what you want to focus on, and how you want to feel. With that basic information, you have a blueprint for what you are cultivating on a moment-to-moment and day-to-day basis. It’s easier to recognize the experiences that align with our vision once we know what our vision is.  We are also better able to prune out with discernment and clarity what doesn’t serve us or make us come alive.

To keep something in our lives that doesn’t make us feel the way we want to feel and that doesn’t align with our true path creates an energy leak. It takes an insane amount of juice to manage a relationship or situation that isn’t a resonant fit and that is out of harmony with who we are and the life we want to live.

What if it really were this simple? We ask ourselves, “How do I want to feel?” and “Do I feel the way I want to feel in this situation or relationship?”

If yes—great, this is on my optimal path. If not—I have the choice to try to create change in the situation either by changing my way of thinking about it or by trying to adjust the actual situation. If, after some personal reflection and ‘work’, the situation is still not aligning, I can decide to either keep working at something that is out sync for me (something we’ve all done at some point) or to see it as a clear indication that it’s not ‘in the flow’ of my soul’s highest path.

Often we stay in situations because of what we wish they were and not because of what they actually are.

As we gain clarity and align our lives with that clarity, we will likely need to eliminate things that don’t match our emerging vision. As we come to know ourselves better we begin to know what works and what doesn’t and can choose to spend our time and attention on what’s truly fulfilling. Where and how we spend our time and with who can begin to align with what allows us to access our innate contentment.

When we respect what works for us—what’s in harmony with our core—we don’t have to expend unnecessary energy managing what doesn’t work or trying to make something fit that doesn’t.

As we live and experience attractions and aversions to what we encounter, there is a constant feedback loop between what we experience and our felt response to what we are experiencing. Our beings are barometers letting us know how things are ‘landing’ with us on a moment-by-moment basis.

Shortness of breath, anxiety, sleeplessness, and emotional pain can be letting us know that our experience is triggering something unresolved in us from our past that we need to look at and learn from. This is valid and essential healing work. 

Just as often however, these signs are our souls way of letting us know that our experience is incompatible or out of sync with the requirements of our essence. Feeling effortless joy, ease, and contentment, is often a sure sign letting us know that we are on track in our choices and that we are leaning into ‘the flow’—that magical zone of living that is filled with synchronicity and ease.

Honoring our felt response is not simply about avoiding being upset or avoiding challenging situations, not at all. Looking at our reactions and our triggers, as I mentioned, is essential personal growth work that must be addressed. What I’m highlighting here however, is this... 

We can consciously choose a path, relationships, and activities that supports our healing and wholeness—not through struggle but through support, and not through further wounding or trauma but through deeply respecting the needs of our own unique and sensitive soul.

Our soul is constantly letting us know—through our felt responses—what honors our unique make-up. When we listen to ourselves and trust our responses and when we support ourselves by respecting what works and what doesn’t, we often find contentment effortlessly.

The only person that can make you happy is you. This doesn’t mean that we expect ourselves to be happy in situations that are abusive, less than ideal, or ‘off’ for us.

Part of the responsibility then, is to investigate what supports our alignment with natural contentment and what gets in the way of it. When we listen to and trust our responses we gravitate towards what brings out our best. In that alignment, natural contentment awaits us.

© 2014  Marie-Ève Bonneau