Heart Swells

Does the intensity of your energy overwhelm you sometimes? Like you want to take in so much in life or do so much that it feels like you won’t be able to handle it? Like if you really indulged it all the way, you would end up feeling drained?

I feel that way more often lately. I’ve added some new therapy work into my life, and I am learning so much. It feels rich, and it feels huge. There is so much I want to continue reading and learning about in the field of therapy. And I want to grow and explore in other ways too. But sometimes it feels like my appetite for learning and experiences outweighs my mental and physical energy to pursue it.

Happy new year

Happy new year (Photo credit: Amodiovalerio Verde)

I want to read books and books and books, write and write, create art, see movies, grow plants, immerse myself in nature, and on and on. Connect, expand, dive down. Sometimes I feel so much appetite that I don’t even know what I want to do with it, just that I very badly want to do something and if I don’t, I will explode or wither.

I have worked a lot in recent years to notice and honor where my energy wants to go. It is one of the reasons I started this blog, to share the experience with you. I spent many years of my life feeling painfully knotted up inside, not knowing what to do with myself—in my career, in my free time, in so many areas of life. And now, it is as if I’ve opened the channel and so much wants to flood through that it is overwhelming. I feel like the vessel of my self is still expanding to accommodate all of it.

It makes me think of something one of my graduate school professors, Allen Koehn, said: “How much life can you stand?”

Put a different way by Thomas Moore in talking about the healing that comes from experiencing a dark night of the soul (and I would also say from experiencing the full intensity of your emotions in general):

It heals you by opening you up, sometimes to the point where you might feel dismembered. It opens the doorways between you and the world that heretofore have been closed. It reinstates the flow of life through you, for human beings at their best, remember, are porous—like an artist open to inspiration, a mystic open to mystery, a physician open to the healing power within her, a parent open to the dramas of transformation that constitutes family.  – from Dark Nights of the Soul, p. 303

How much can you let yourself be alive, in all its intensity? How much can you let the joys, the mysteries, the desires, the sorrows—all of it—flow through you?

As a therapist, I am always striving to expand my capacity for feeling other’s emotions. The way I do that is by continually expanding my capacity to feel my own emotions, including this voracious appetite that wants to devour life and knowledge and experience.

I realize again and again: sometimes it is just as hard for us to deeply feel the positive emotions and experiences in life as it is to feel the more difficult ones. We so often struggle to feel joy. Contentment. Desire. Love. To let it fill our minds and bodies. To let it swell our hearts to bursting.

© Amanda Norcross and Learning to Listen to Soul, 2013.

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