Saturday, February 14, 2009

Feelings as Guide to Self

by Lawrence H. Staples

Our own feelings, not the feelings of others, are our best and fastest guide to the self. These feelings lie inside us because they are ours, not someone else’s. Feelings are also the guide to our art and our relationships. The quality of our art and of our relationships depends on the quality of our intimacy. In turn, the quality of our intimacy (i.e., our capacity to reveal our selves fully) depends on feelings. We cannot reveal our selves without first finding and knowing our selves. Ultimately, it is feelings that lead us increasingly to self-knowledge. But, as we have seen that is difficult. We must bear much tension to sort out and differentiate our feelings from our emotions, and from the feelings of others. Bearing that tension may eventually lead us to our own feelings and our own compass. Until we find our star we may be led by stars that take us a longer way around to our self. If we do find our own feelings, we will undoubtedly pass through many “right,” “ideal,” and “suitable” people, art forms, and other things before we reach “The One” that we are really looking for, our self.

For the masculine-dominated mind, it is the fear of feelings that separates him from his art, his relationships, and, ultimately, his self. Thinking is not the problem; the masculine mind has this in spades. That is why women often say of a thinking man “he is just in his head.” It is a head-trip that leads a man in his search for a woman to establish ideal criteria. We see this all the time in personal ads. Such thinking also leads us to establish criteria for our selves to determine what is an acceptable outlet for our creative drives. If we listen to our feelings, we are attracted more often to someone that does not meet these criteria. We may be attracted more instinctively by their smell rather than their interest in museums, if our ego standards don’t interfere. We often feel about our relationships the same way we feel about our art. We want to run away and at the same time we are almost hopelessly drawn to them.

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