The idea around ‘I-Feel’ is to celebrate the state of ‘I am feeling’.
It’s not necessarily a call to action, it can be a subtle awareness or an overwhelming one, yet, feelings are our first signposts to our experience of life.
A side note on signposts, i’m a keen hiker, and on the paths and trails of Europe, there is often signposts to indicate the particular trail that I am walking. The ‘South West Coastal’ path, the ‘South Downs Way’, the ‘Two Moors Way’, the ‘Camino De Santiago’. The signs bring me assurance and joy that I was on the right path, whichever one it was that I choose to walk, and however long I wanted to walk it.
After a little while of hiking paths I began to get a little more adventurous and I started taking lesser known paths, over mountain ranges, or climbing up to the tallest mountains in my country. Even on these paths I would find way-markers and signposts, of a different nature. A pile of stones, or a ribbon tied to a tree, or a cross marked into a stone, or a tree. In the case of the stones, each stone told me that someone else had been there before, each person who’d placed that stone had done so from two perspectives:
- I want to show that I am here.
- I want others to know that I am here.
The stones weren’t just stones, they themselves became a contribution to the way-marker, and symbol of the individual’s need to provide guidance and security to others, by telling them that the path is safe to walk. Consequently, on some of the more dangerous and risky paths there are less stones. For me, this is an indicator to be more careful and vigilant. I feel like there’s a poetry to this.
During a formative spiritual experience I had hiking, with a friend of mine in the ancient oak forest of central Wales, we decided to climb part of the foothills of the mountain where there was no path. It was a scramble at times, the hill was steep, and mossy. I began to panic, thinking to myself: ‘I have to find the path where people have trodden, only then will I be safe.’
I was panicking so I slowed down, and just listened for my breath for a while. After around ten seconds I could notice that i’d stopped, and then I was able to look about me at the beautiful, natural, and ancient trees, the ancient forest land with it’s interconnected moss, mycelial, insects, and animals.
I was able to see all of the way that I had already come.
I was able to look up the hillside and plot out a route, to assess which parts of the hillside might be steady. I was able to notice that the moss and tree roots would provide me the best chance of stability.
Sometimes we miss these things on our search for the knowledge of safety, our brains are hardwired to avoid change, and to seek a certainty of security. We miss the beauty of our surroundings, the intricacy of our environment, and the possibility of making our own paths.
For me, feelings are a little like hiking.
Whatever analogy you use to understand and celebrate feelings, you do need one. We all need a framework and narrative for which we can understand our own world.
I have felt numb to my feelings many, many times. I know many other men have, because it’s part of our Western cultural narrative to shame men around feelings; we have been taught to see them as weakness. We shame ourselves out of our feelings, other men shame us and themselves out of feelings, and women perpetuate that to adhere to the societal model.
Women also have these struggles, I only mention men because it’s a pervasive narrative; it’s an epidemic of shame. Women experience this too i’m sure, and they are heavily shamed around their bodies.
Women shame themselves around their bodies, other women shame them and themselves around their bodies, and men perpetuate that to adhere to the societal model. I know there’s already some excellent work going on in the world around that. Thank you.
My opinion is that the search for feelings, for men, is still very young.
We all want to feel wanted. To be a part of something greater. We need that. So we carry on, and we don’t challenge these narratives.
What if celebrating feelings was an integral part of the cultural narrative, what if you could fit in that way?
Let me tell you all, that holding a safe space for feelings feels great! So I-Feel was born, and I hope it will grow into a beautiful resource for many. For the sake of ‘I am’.
Not only does feeling open up our experience to life, but if we frame our feeling journey in love and gratitude, it can provide some seriously life-changing experiences.
Feelings are deeply personal, and they don’t always need to be aired, sometimes it’s something to work through privately, sometimes it’s something to understand then share, sometimes it’s a courageous conversation — in love, safety, and respect, to set boundaries for yourself in relationship.
I deeply believe that the depth and quality of feeling will tell you what you need to do with it.
The first steps are to feel, show up, and express. The next step is to understand that other people have different experiences of life, and to be compassionate to them, nurture, cultivate their experience as well as your own.
Life is a reflection, we all feel the same feelings, and there are no original thoughts. Who knows, you might find the key to your own story in the expressions of another. Life is a mystery in that way.
Get to know what this feels like, start to cultivate a curiosity to your feelings; a trust, a respect. Search for a support network outside of the internet that provides you this space in your own lives.
There are many aspects of life that are chaotic and unfair. It’s essential to know how we feel about these things in order to heal them, and to not let them block us, or hold us back, from showing up in love.
It’s not always possible to do that in an instant, I know our Western culture would have us push through our situations until we drop down exhausted, but this is not the aim of understanding here. Be gentle, slow down, breathe. Like my experience in the woodland of Wales, it will open up your senses to so much more.
Blessings and love, thank you for your time, I’m grateful that you read this far, and I invite you to contribute to I-Feel. Everyone has a voice.
Previously Published on Medium