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I feel so blessed every time I have the privilege to vulnerably support or midwife someone into, and completely through, their feelings. It's the same kind of emotional breakthrough that happened to me in the psych ward and ultimately saved my life. If you really knew me, you'd know that each time I do it with someone else, I picture a butterfly.

Butterflies are a miracle of nature. In order for a caterpillar to complete its journey through life, it must spin its own cocoon. Once inside the cocoon, miraculously, it allows itself to completely melt down into "imaginal" cells. The caterpillar melts in order to transform. Out of this natural, spectacular process of metamorphosis, a magnificent butterfly soon appears, ready to soar off into its new life.

What if, like the butterfly, we are also born with the ability to transform our lives?

If you have ever deeply and courageously "followed the thread" of your emotions to their origin and then emerged out the other side, you understand exactly what I mean. It can seem as though you are literally melting down and transforming.

Many people have certainly had the experience of being overfilled with feelings as their emotional balloons explode. But without someone listening and holding a "sacred space," it's all too easy to hurt ourselves or others, emotionally or physically, along the way. The melting down part takes place but the transformation is missing.

We used to inherently understand how to do all of it. But ever since we threw our first tantrum, many of us have been forcefully taught not to go there, that to express strong emotions is wrong. Children are punished for their tantrums and adults are shunned. As a result, so many of us never empty our balloons.

We need to be responsible for our feelings. Just as we care for ourselves by eating healthy, exercising and having a spiritual practice, it's vital to fully express our feelings in order to grow as human beings. The key is to intentionally set a safe container. In my ideal world, people would understand this process.

Ideally, our families would lovingly demonstrate unconditional listening as we rollercoaster through the full gamut of our emotions. Unfortunately, without access to the tools of setting a safe container and sessioning, most of us have been stifled, shamed, punished or perhaps even physically hurt as a way to shut us up. Regardless, no one is a victim here. If we are avoiding our feelings, we are continuing a cycle that has been passed down from generation to generation. Now, however, we can become more conscious and notice what we're doing so we can make a different choice, and then act on that choice.
FROM: Obese Families in Crisis: The Intervention
Published on January 26, 2009

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