Explore your emotions at a deeper level in this seven part blog series of “Welcoming Your Emotions through the Way of the Horse”
Exploring and welcoming our emotions is valuable and can be incredibly eye-opening, yet most of us avoid feeling or talking about our emotions because that is what we have been conditioned to since childhood. Our feelings are a window into our needs and provide a path to connect with others and therefore to our deeper selves, because to empathize makes us more human.
Why horses? As prey animals horses constantly reads whether a situation presents danger by sensing energetic and emotional currents in their environment. They have a keen sense of smell, hearing, body awareness and energy waves. Horses do not judge or begrudge, and they are completely congruent, authentic and present in the moment. If no danger is present…they go back to grazing.
Humans on the other hand, over-analyze our own and others’ feelings, get stuck in emotions, and worry about past and future, while forgetting to live our life in the present. A horse picks up on the way people are feeling, mirroring their emotions and responding. As a herd animal attuned to stress and body language, a horse will move away from an angry person, follow someone it trusts and be unsettled when it senses fear, making it a perfect mentor for a human learning the language behind her emotions.
By welcoming your emotions, rather than avoiding them, you can flow through difficult situations. By illustrating parallel behavior patterns between human and horse, you will also learn how to go back to grazing…and live your life with less turmoil and more purpose.
This week, we explore Guilt & Shame and Hatred.
Guilt and Shame go hand in hand. Both arise when we have done something to hurt, embarrass, destabilize or dehumanize ourselves or others, and shame moderates this behavior in us to ensure we do not do it again. We all do things we come to regret. Shame and guilt are universal. We hide our shameful stuff from ourselves and others. Secret shame and guilt are toxic. Hidden, they squelch feeling worthy and lovable and diminish spontaneity and pleasure because of our fears of what others may think.
When we look at the gifts in the emotions of guilt and shame we discover atonement, integrity, self-respect and a call for behavioral change. Shame is also an essential emotion that helps you set clear behavioral boundaries for yourself. We all know the feeling we get when we said something that hurt someone else’s feelings. Instead of mulling over the feeling for long periods, ask yourself: “who has been hurt? What must be made right?”
With the help of these questions, you and your shame can revisit the situation and feel some appropriate remorse. You can apologize and atone, and you can promise to do things differently the next time. This appropriate remorse will strengthen your relationships, teach you better skills for the future, and allow your healthy shame to recede naturally, because its job is done.
Hatred arises in the presence of our ‘shadow’ (the place where we hide things we cannot accept in ourselves, and demonize in others). The gift of hatred is an intense awareness of what we hide away and a sudden evolution of how to get rid of hatred. The questions to ask are: What has fallen into my shadow? What must be reintegrated? Like anger, hatred is about setting boundaries and working through things we are unwilling to accept about ourselves.
Horses do not feel shame, guilt and hatred. Since they are primarily concerned with survival, they do not stop and think about whether they hurt your feelings and they do not feel shame over their actions; that is simply not in their make-up.
Horses can feel simple emotions (such as fear and joy) but they do not process the emotions like humans, nor do they harbor their emotions like us.
If you want to explore your emotions further through Equine Guided Sessions and Experiential Learning, sign up for one of my workshops this winter. Visit http://caballusconsulting.com for more information on how to reserve your space.
Next week we look at how to welcome our emotions Jealosy and Envy.