EMOTIONAL GROWTH AND ITS FUNCTION
Key Extracts from Lecture 89
© The Pathwork® Foundation 1999
A human being who functions harmoniously has developed the physical, the mental, and the emotional side of his nature. These three spheres are supposed to function harmoniously with one another, each helping the other rather than one faculty being used in order to subdue the other, as so often is the case.
Most human beings look after the physical self. They do more or less what is necessary to make it grow and remain healthy. And a good portion of mankind, comparatively speaking, cultivates the mental side… But why then is there a general neglect of man's emotional nature? There are good reasons for that, my friends. In order to gain more clarity about this subject, let us first understand the function of the emotional nature in man. It includes, first of all, the capacity to feel. The capacity to experience feeling is synonymous with the capacity to give and receive happiness. To the degree that you shy away from any kind of emotional experience, to that extent also do you close the door to the experience of happiness. Moreover, the emotional side of your nature, when functioning, contains creative ability. To the degree that you close yourself off from emotional experience, to that very degree is the full potential of your creative ability hindered in manifesting itself. Contrary to what many of you may believe, the unfolding of creative ability is not a mere mental process. In fact, the intellect and the mentality have much less to do with it than may appear at first glance, in spite of the fact that technical skill also becomes a necessity in order to represent the creative outflow and to give it full justice. Creative unfoldment is an intuitive process. And needless to say, intuition can function only to the degree that your emotional life is strong, healthy, and mature.
Without consciously thinking about it in these terms, it is believed that the emotional growth process should come about without growing pains… You who are on this path ought to begin to understand this most thoroughly. If you do… you will no longer object to going through a period of growth now. In this growing period, immature emotions have to express themselves. Only as they are allowed expression so that you can understand their meaning and significance will you finally reach a point when you will no longer need such immature emotions. This will not happen by a process of will, by outer mental decision which thereby represses what is still a part of your emotional being, but an organic process of emotional growth will occur wherein feelings will naturally change their direction, their aim, their intensity, their nature. But this can only be done if you experience your emotions as they happen to exist in you now.
You all operate, some more, some less, with feelings that are not genuinely yours. With feelings you think you ought to have, but do not have. Underneath, something entirely different is taking place. Only in times of extreme crisis do these actual feelings reach the surface. Then you believe it is the crisis that has caused these reactions in you. You wish to ignore the fact that the crisis only made it impossible for you to deceive yourself. And crisis reactivated the still immature emotions. That the crisis itself is the effect of the hidden emotional immaturity itself, as well as of the existing self-deception, just does not want to penetrate your mind. The fact that you merely put the raw, destructive, immature emotions out of sight instead of growing out of them, and then deceive yourself as being a much more integrated and mature person than you actually are, is not only dishonesty, hypocrisy, and self-deception, but it also leads you into more isolation, unhappiness, alienation from yourself, and unsuccessful, unrewarding patterns that you repeat over and over again.
You will rightly say that if you live out your negative emotions, the world will punish you in one form or another. Yes, my friends, this is true. Immature emotions are indeed destructive and will indeed bring you disadvantages. But your error lies in the thought (conscious or unconscious) that to be aware of what you feel and to give vent to it in action are one and the same. You cannot discriminate between the two courses of action. Nor can you discriminate between (1) a constructive aim in which it is necessary to express and talk about what you feel, at the right place, with the right people; and (2) the destructiveness of heedlessly letting go all control, of not choosing the right aim, the right place, and the right people, of not wanting to use such expression as would gain insight into yourself. If you merely let go out of a lack of discipline, without an aim, and then expose negative emotions, it is indeed destructive. But if you distinguish between the constructive and the destructive aims, if you realize the purpose and then develop the courage and humility (1) to allow yourself to be aware of what you really feel and (2) to express it when it is meaningful, you will see the tremendous difference between merely allowing immature and destructive emotions to come to the fore in order to relieve yourself of pressure and give them an outlet without aim or meaning; and the purposeful activity of reexperiencing all the feelings that have once existed in you and that still exist in you (even if you are convinced that this is no longer the case). What has not been properly assimilated in emotional experience, but has instead been repressed, will constantly be reactivated by present situations that remind you in one way or another of what brought on such unassimilated experience in the first place.
As the first few tentative steps are taken in the direction of becoming aware of what you feel and expressing it in a direct way, without finding ‘reasons and excuses,’ without rationalizing it, you will gain an understanding about yourself such as you never had before. You will actively feel the growing process at work because you actively participate with your innermost self, not merely with outer gestures. You will not only begin to understand what brought on many undesired results, but how it is in your power to change it.
There are times when you allow yourself to be guided by your power of intuition. But it happens more as an exception instead of as a rule. It cannot happen as a rule as long as your emotions remain destructive and childish. They are unreliable in this state. Since you discourage their growth, you live by your mental faculties only – and they are secondary in efficiency. When healthy emotions will make your intuition reliable, there will be a mutual harmony between the mental and emotional faculties.
After the first painful release of negative emotions, you will find a certain relief in the realization that poisonous matter has left your system in a manner that was not destructive for you or for others. After thus having gained insight and understanding, new, warm, good emotions will come out of you that could not express themselves so long as the negative emotions were held in check. You will also learn to discriminate between genuine good feelings and false good feelings that you superimpose out of the need to maintain your idealized self-image: ‘This is the way I should be.’ And because you cling to this idealized self-image, you cannot find your real self. And because this is so, you do not have the courage to accept the fact that a comparatively large area of your personality is still childish, incomplete, and imperfect. It falls considerably short of what you want to appear to be. You hold on to the illusion of yourself in the wrong idea, first of all, that if you acknowledge the fallacy, you are thereby destroyed. You never realize that this is the first necessary step to destroy your destructive processes and to build the real solid self that will stand on firm ground. For only in the mature emotions, the courage to make this maturity and growth possible, will you gain the security within yourself you so ardently hunt for elsewhere. You constantly reach for false solutions in order to create an illusion of a security that can be pulled from under your feet at the slightest provocation because it is unreal. So, build your security. You have nothing to fear out of becoming aware of what is already in you, anyway. By looking away from what is, it does not cease to exist. Therefore it is wise on your part to want to look at, to face, and to acknowledge that which is in you – no more and no less! To believe it harms you more to know what you feel and are, than not to know, is extremely foolish. Yet, to some degree, that is exactly what you all do. That is the nature of your resistance to accepting and facing yourself. Only after facing what is in you will your much more mature intellect be able to make the decision as to whether these inner behavior patterns are worth keeping or not. You are not forced to give up what seems a protection to you. But look at it with the clear and lucid eyes of truth. That is all I ask you to do. You have nothing to fear from it.
You all know, regardless of what religion or spiritual philosophy or teaching, that love is the first and the greatest power. In the last analysis, it is the only power. Most of you have used this saying many times. But I wonder, my friends, have you realized that all along you have spoken words, just words, never knowing that you have used empty words, while all the time you have veered away from feeling, from experiencing, from the world of emotional reaction and experience! Now, how can you love if you do not let yourself feel? How can you love and at the same time remain what you choose to call ‘detached’… How can you hope to gain spirituality – and spirituality, religion, and love are one – by neglecting your emotional processes? Think about this, my friends. Begin to see how you all sit back, hoping for a comfortable spirituality that leaves your personal involvement in the world of feelings out of it. After you see this clearly, you will comprehend how preposterous this attitude is.
Those of you who will now follow this path and do what is so necessary will first experience a host of negative feelings. But after these are dealt with and properly understood, warm, mature, constructive feelings will evolve. You will feel warmth, compassion, good involvement such as you never thought possible. You will no longer feel yourself being isolated. You will begin to truly relate to others – in truth and reality, not in falsehood and self-deception. When this happens, a new security and respect for yourself will become part of you. You will begin to trust and like yourself.
You see, my friends, your misunderstanding is that you think the harm comes from the existence of the negative emotions as such. It does not. It comes from your nonacceptance of your real self, from the blame you throw into the world for not allowing you to be what you feel you could be if the world would let you. This is the nature of such strong, powerful emotions, and they can endanger you only as long as you are unaware of their nature. Therefore seek their meaning. Seek their true message, and you will never have to fear.