On Hedgehogs and Prickly Emotions
I like hedgehogs, but they can be prickly creatures to handle. Heaps better than a porcupine but still hard to hold in your hands.
I feel that the hedgehog is a good mascot for some of our pricklier emotions. Anxiety, anger, "over-sensitivity", resentment, jealousy, rage, shame, guilt and so on.
The ones that are hard to handle and feel very uncomfortable in our bodies.
The ones we sometimes feel scared to be having.
And yet, like the gentle and timid hedgehog, these fearsome emotions of ours often have a soft-underbelly. Granted that it's hard to get to this underbelly of the hedgehog (and our emotions too), it's still important to recognize that there are deeper and softer and more vulnerable aspects of our fearsome emotions.
The way to transform the prickly emotions comes by getting to their soft and tender underbellies. And the way to do THAT is much the same way you get a hedgehog to uncurl from it's prickly ball, and to relax.
You feel into your body (bravely) the physical sense of the fearsome emotion, and you bring to it a sense of gentleness and non-forcing (you're NOT shucking an oyster!). You try to convey it to the emotion - treating it as if it were a separate living thing, like maybe, a hedgehog. How you do it is up to your creativity and imagination.
Some of my clients visualize the prickly emotion as a small animal and imagine themselves gently cuddling it. Some others "talk" to this emotion saying perhaps something like, "It's ok. I'm not going to force you to open up. I just want to know you." Yet others put a warm hand on the part of their body where they feel the emotion physically, as if patting it.
Once your physical sense of the emotion settles or relaxes, it then helps to bring a certain questioning attitude towards it. For instance, by asking it a broad question, "I wonder what you can show me about yourself." And then you wait.
Often, this is combination of gentle relating, questioning and patient waiting is enough to allow the emotion to open up, and reveal its underbelly. You might experience it as a physical shift, or a memory/ life story, a line of thought, an image, a physical movement, another emotion. Anything.
Your prickly emotion has started to show you what's in its middle.
Try this out next time you have a prickly emotion.