As men we are often accused of living too much in our heads rather than in our hearts and it can be a long journey for us to reach the level of our emotions. Even if we were very much aware of our feelings the real question is how do we feel about our feelings, especially the less acceptable ones?
We are fine when we feel the likes of love, gratitude and affection but what about anger, envy, jealousy, sadness or loneliness? We just don’t like feeling those feelings so we try to outlaw them. Whenever they raise their ugly heads we want to shoot them off as if they were enemies to be destroyed. The result is that they go underground where they deeply affect our health and well-being and wait for an opportune moment to resurface again.
Learning to accept our shadow side is to accept the seemingly unacceptable emotions as much as the positive ones. It is only when we treat them with respect, without judgments, as sacred parts of ourselves, that they too will reveal their bright side. So our sadness gifts us with compassion, loneliness becomes solitude and anger changes to creativity.
By Father Jim Cogley
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