I’m the only one who knows how I feel. So, how did I learn to disconnect from my true feelings and lose trust in them? As I listen to some conversations between parents and their children, think back to my own childhood and remember how I interacted with my daughter Vanessa when she was young I realise that it’s so easy to deny the true feelings of children.
How often, when I dared to share my true feelings, did I hear, “Don’t be frightened”, “Don’t be angry” or “Don’t be sad”? or even “Don’t do that!” or “Why on earth do you want to do that”! One of our basic needs is to be heard and another is to be valued. So, it can be quite harmful when we deny another the ability to honour their true feelings because we are not hearing them and not valuing them.
If we are encouraged to suppress our true feelings we lose confidence and trust in ourselves and we learn to default to others for answers. We do what we think we ‘should do’ to get our needs met, for survival, safety and for approval.
Unfortunately, this affects us in many ways, we lose connection to ourselves, to others, to what we really want and we make unhealthy choices. Instead of listening and trusting our own feelings we favour options which please others, often to our own detriment and unhappiness.
How can being dishonest about our true feelings cause disharmony in a relationship?
The other being (human or animal) senses our incongruence, and loses trust in us, our words, or actions. e.g. In the past, I agreed to go to some social functions with my partner that I didn’t really want to attend. He could sense my discomfort and told me as much, but I denied my indifference and insisted that we go. The sad thing about these times were that neither of us enjoyed the occasion – my partner knew I didn’t want to be there and was annoyed and I didn’t want to be there and was unhappy!
The challenge was at that time I was unconscious of my behaviour. I’d been denying my true feelings and doing what I thought I ‘should’ do to fit in for so long, I didn’t realise that it was a pattern of behaviour that could be changed. Now that I listen to my true feelings I can be honest about my needs and desires and we make choices that suit us both and as a result have much more fun!
Equine Facilitated Learning is one way to bring these unconscious patterns into the light. Here is an example of a client session.
My client was a sociable person, but was struggling to make connection with people she was really interested in, either to pursue an intimate relationship or an important business relationship. In these situations, she froze, didn’t know what to say, and believed that she didn’t have anything of value to add to the conversation. When we began the session, the horse was standing at the other side of the yard, looking towards the other horses. I asked my client to scan through her body and notice how she was truly feeling in the moment. She noticed that her knees felt weak and her feet were rooted to the spot and she felt unable to approach the horse. I gently asked her to keep her awareness with those sensations, honour them and allow them to be there. She started telling me about numerous occasions in her past when she had been unable to move towards someone that she really wanted to engage with to begin a conversation.
As she continued to open her heart and share her true feelings the horse turned and walked right up to her and stood about three feet away (something that I have witnessed over and over again). The client was awestruck. She offered her hand for the horse to smell and say hello and then quietly stroked the horse’s neck. After about 5 minutes, what seemed a ‘timeless intimate connection’, the horse wandered off. The client now felt more confident and re-approached the horse, immediately reaching out to stroke the horse again, but the horse moved away. She stepped back, paused and tried again. This time there was a different quality to her approach and another gentle intimate encounter followed, just before the session ended.
From this experience, the client learned that when she was honest about her true feelings it opened up the possibility for real connection in the relationship. She recognised that it was more important to ‘be’ her true self than ‘do’ something (ie try and stroke the horse) to enter into the relationship.
How can connecting with your true feelings help you to make an important life decision?
One of my clients chose to come for a coaching session because she was struggling to make a very important decision. She couldn’t connect to her feelings, all she could hear were the ‘voices in her head’. Some of the voices were offering practical advice however others were limiting and debilitating and now she was confused. We began with a body scan and this enabled her to acknowledge that she was trying to please others and not listen to herself. We then visited the horses and noticed how her body sensations changed. In the presence of the horses her senses were heightened. We used this heightened awareness to tune into the two potential forthcoming opportunities. When the client paid attention to her body, whilst holding the first option in mind her whole body felt sick, it slumped forward and she felt exhausted. When she imagined the alternative option she felt a huge relief, softness in the body and a sense of curiosity, playfulness and excitement. I then encouraged the client to consider her options incorporating the information from the voices in her head and her newly accessed body wisdom.
From this experience, the client learned that she had been overwhelmed by the ‘voices in her head’ and thought the she ‘should’ take the first option because the second one was the least socially acceptable. She went away with more clarity.
For some, connecting with their true feelings is not as easy as it might sound to others!
I’ve had many clients who had suppressed their true feelings for so long that they had become unhappy and unwell. Yet, as they began to access their true feelings they found it a challenge to actually FEEL them – their pattern was to ‘switch off’, lose focus or move away. This is no surprise if you were not encouraged to accept and feel your true feelings as a child and it can take time, practise and sometimes the support of a therapist or coach to hold the space for your process.
Equine Facilitated Learning is a gentle way to access your body sensations because the horses don’t judge your feelings and ‘faking it until you make it’ does not work with them. The irony is that often the reverse is true – they are more likely to connect with you when you are being congruent and honouring your true feelings. For some this is a life-changing concept. It was for me!
So, if you are confused about your direction or are struggling with a situation or a relationship begin by listening to your true feelings so that you can:
– Know what you want
– Make authentic choices
– Experience connection, intimacy, and harmony in your relationships
– And have more inner peace, joy and fulfilment in your life.
If you are interested to find out how a session of Equine Facilitated Learning or Wellbeing Coaching can help you to resolve a relationship challenge or find clear direction in your life, then please get in contact.