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Monday, October 29, 2012

Reflecting on and Sharing Gut feelings of Emptiness and Aloneness to Deal with Feelings of Fear


Why do we fear death some days more than others? Have you ever ask yourself that question? We all know that there are some days or times in our lives that we buzz along without a thought of death, as we are too busy living and engaged in the now. These are our most healthy moments. But then something happens to wake us up to the stark awareness that we are mortal. 

The following is an account of how the feeling of fear as a flag of an underlying gut feeling of emptiness was discovered by one of the authors of "What's Behind Your Belly Button?". We thought it might be useful to share this experience and encourage anyone dealing with fear during and after the current tropical storm (or any other storm), to remember to reflect and share your feelings. The very act of sharing how you feel can diminish fear to a manageable amount. Understanding that the fear has to do with more than just the storm at hand, but about how you feel in your life at this time in general, is an important clue to know how to both reflect on the feeling and share it. If you have been feeling lately (prior to storm announcement) a little out of control in your life in general, try to share that with a person close to you. It may have far more to do with how you are feeling about this storm than you would think. Sharing your feelings will calm you and probably the listener too! If you have no one to share these feelings with, then try writing it down. Journaling your feelings, either privately or in social networking if you feel comfortable with that, can be a big comfort. Feel free to share what you are going through right here in the comment section. Sharing your feelings will undoubtedly be helpful to other blog readers and we will be a caring community for you during this time.
It is important to understand the anatomy of what your feeling of fear really is. Rather than indicating an outside danger over which we have no control, fear is a necessary signal that generally indicates there is some emptiness inside of us that has not been shared and exchanged with another person. Reflecting on the gut feeling of emptiness and sharing this feeling can help you deal with even a gripping fear and unit your body-mind connection so you can function successfully. 

Exert from What's Behind Your Belly Button? on the intelligence of gut instinct, page 83- 85
"Fear is a psychosomatic response reflecting our inner instinctive feelings against a perceived danger. When we are afraid, our logic is focused on our sense experience, telling us that there is a condition out there with which we are inadequate to deal. The psychosomatic feeling being experienced is related to the instinctive feeling of emptiness within us. Our logic generally tries to project the fear onto the situation rather than take the responsibility for the feeling of emptiness and we judge our selves inadequate to cope.
"If we are in a boat in a storm and afraid, the fear does not come from the situation but more from the underlying emptiness in our aloneness that we have not shared with another person. There may be some real danger in coping with the situation but the fear, which we experience, is not really produced by that danger alone. The danger is the trigger of our inner feelings. The feeling of fear that wells up in us always relates to an inner feeling of emptiness previously experienced. The “gut knot” accompanying the fear is the somatic response to the emptiness, not the fear of the immediate danger.
"The fear indicates that we have had some specific experiences in our lives in which we have felt empty but the feeling was not accepted or perceived to be shared by others. Instead of being able to share the empty feeling with someone who would accept it, we have accepted the judgment that we are less than for feeling empty and inadequate to deal alone. These judgments, accumulated over a period of time, are triggered by a current event in our life and "cave-in" on us.
      "I began to realize that fear had little to do with the outside situation or object that I feared and more to do with my own emptiness when I lived in Florida [in the 70s and 80s] and we would have hurricanes [regularly]. Some days there would be an announcement that a hurricane was possibly on the way to our town and I would be in a complete panic. I felt like I was going to be completely overcome, my whole family wiped out and death was impending. But in truth, it may not have been much of a possibility that it was even coming our way at all and it may have been a very small hurricane. Then another week, an announcement would come of an approaching hurricane, a much bigger one than the last and much more likely to hit our town. But surprisingly, I would barely care about it and go about my day, taking some hurricane safety precautions, but otherwise acting and feeling as if it was nothing to worry about.
      "I found this difference in reaction very curious and after experiencing this random fear versus calmness in the face of danger; I began to reflect on my feelings on those days. As I felt through the days I had these experiences, I could see that on the days I feared the hurricanes, feared my death and the death of others, there was always an underlying emptiness, with which I came into the experience. And the emptiness had to do with how close I felt to others and how in control of my own responses I was already feeling in my normal life just prior to the hurricane announcement. The hurricane was then just a trigger event and my fear was a signal that I was already feeling empty and out of control on a deeper level of feeling. Sharing this with another human being who could accept my feelings generally relieved the fear and I could focus successfully without panic on taking proper precautions needed for hurricane safety and felt a relief of stress."

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"What's Behind Your Belly Button?" is also available on Amazon USA and Amazon UK

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  1. Your concept of "emptiness" is really interesting as I'm not sure I would have made that connection. I've got to give that some more thought. Thanks for your post which will definitely get me thinking!

  2. Sandra, thanks for your comment and interest. When my colleague Robert Sterling and I talk about the gut feeling of emptiness, we are talking about the feeling in your gut that relates to and gauges how well your needs for acceptance and for control of your own responses are being met and if these two needs are in balance. To understand this, one needs to feel into their gut response (rather than just engage the thinking process) and is often easiest to find the gut feeling of emptiness around the exploration of unresolved issues. We are obviously talking about a gut feeling rather than the Buddhist concept of emptiness as a state. Our chapter in "What's Behind Your Belly Button?" on the anatomy of feelings helps to best describe these gut feelings and their relationship to the emotions, as well as gives verbatim counseling sessions and a complete protocol for assisting people in dealing with issues through somatically reflecting on these gut feelings.

  3. Hi,

    I have just read your article and whole heartedly agree with sharing your feelings when you feel fearful. Fear in itself, regardless of whether it is a hurricane or some other challenge that faces us lames us and when I think about it now, it also causes a empty feeling. I remember when I first started doing my taxes in Germany, I was scared and afraid I might do something wrong and so they sat there undone. I was empty inside and felt totally alone. It was only after I started sharing my feelings with one of my best friends that i realized that I could do it and started taking one step at a time and did them correctly and successfully.
    Your book sounds very interesting and I have defintely put it on my list of books to read.
    Thank you for an interesting article.

  4. Patricia, I just noticed that you joined our blog and am so happy to have you and your input. Thank you for sharing your feelings and experience. Sounds like you have found the most natural way to free your energy up through sharing your feelings with a friend!

    Our work has been to take that empty gut feeling that you speak of around issues in our lives (like doing taxes) and reflect on just the empty feeling, going back in time to see where it lands and where we first started to feel the emptiness in our lives. We have the person go back slowly, one step at a time, feeling our way back to earlier and earlier times. And It is truly amazing to find that the emptiness we feel today around something like doing our taxes is linked to earlier experiences in our lives when we felt we came up short, less than, empty and alone. And the effect is to leave us frozen (as you say "lames us"). Our work has been to help people not just push all those empty feelings under the rug, so to speak, but air them out through a somatic reflection process, and share these feelings in order to free one's life energy.

    By the way, we have a good many people visiting this blog from Germany! We are always happy to see Germany on the list of countries represented.


  5. Martha, can't say that I have ever put fear into the perspective you have presented. However, it definitely guides me toward taking an inner look at events in my own life that have or perhaps may in the future present themselves in a fearful way. I can really relate to your reflections on Florida and the hurricanes. My husband and I lived almost 30 years in FL, having only just within the last 2 years moved to GA. The warning signs seemed to escalate each year as the hurricane season approached. The seed of fear was planted via the news media, of course, but the decision to go or stay was made primarily on true gut feelings and personal fear.

  6. So good to hear from you, Sharla.

    I also think it is often necessary to calm oneself and get in touch with our gut feelings in order to be rational enough to leave when it is truly dangerous. We just make better, healthier decisions when we become clear of our own feelings that are triggered from news of a dangerous storm, or any danger for that matter. I was in a flood once in Northern California and several people where so afraid that they froze in their bodies and refused to leave their home, later having to be rescued by helicopter. It helps to have a reflection process to use to calm ourselves and this helps our judgment too.

    I just personally noticed that my own ability to stay calm during a storm had a lot to do with how I was already feeling, what I came into the storm with in the way of needs satisfaction as a person. If I was already feeling empty and alone in my gut response, the storm was much more difficult to endure. If I felt full in my gut, felt acceptance and love in my life, as well as in control of my own responses (a sense of freedom), then it was much easier for me to deal with the coming of a dangerous storm.


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