In the past month alone I have had four clients ask, me “what do you mean by ‘take the time to feel your feelings? How do I do that?’” It was a really good question that was asked by incredibly bright women.
A lot of us go through life thinking that suppressing our true feelings makes us seem courageous, fiercely independent or free from emotional neediness. Sound familiar? See if you can find yourself in this example: You are at upset with yourself for not following through on a goal and rather than face the reasons why, you choose to forget about the goal and ignore the emotions felt alongside of it.
By doing this you are telling yourself that whatever you are feeling is not important enough to be felt. Then some of these thoughts come along, “This feeling will pass. It wasn’t a big deal anyways. I was making too big of a deal out of this situation. These feelings are definitely not justified.”
You convince yourself that whatever emotion you were feeling should not have been felt, then you repress it and move on. Who gave you this message that what you are feeling should not be discussed or felt?
If this sounds like something that is part of your routine, then I have got some news for you; these emotions will never stop coming. They will painfully creep up on you for the rest of your life and it is your choice whether you want to keep sweeping them under the rug or if you want to examine the crap out of them. Trust me when I tell you that the examination process is way more fun than sweeping. Who likes cleaning anyways?
Dive deep into your feelings
Before you dive in and start a feeling frenzy, remember that nobody has ever died from feeling a feeling. A feeling is just an emotion, nothing more. There is nothing to be scared of and so much to be learned.
So the next time waves of emotions come up, I want you to stop and follow these seven quick steps:
- Identify the emotion. Am I feeling sad, lonely, scared, angry, confused, annoyed, thrilled, trapped or overwhelmed?
- Focus solely on the emotion, not the stories created around the emotion. Example: I am upset because I have gained 15 lbs this year. What you make the story mean: I have gained 15 lbs and now that I have started gaining, I will NEVER stop. I will end up living life as an obese woman that nobody will ever love and I will die alone.
- Feel your emotion. With your one chosen emotion in mind, sit down, close your eyes and allow this emotion to really sink in. Feel the depths of this emotion. Explore why you feel this way. Ask questions about it. If you feel inclined, grab a journal and write it all out.
- Physically express your emotion. Once you are done sitting with your feeling, decide if you would like to have a physical reaction to it. Do you want to cry? Scream? Hit a pillow? What physical reaction will allow you to feel this emotion deeper?
- Shake it out! You will know when you are done feeling it emotionally and physically. Stand up, drink a glass of water and shake out the excess emotions.
- Put your emotions in motion! Go for a walk, dance to your favorite song, ride a bike, clean your cabinets. Use this flow of energy to move your body. Trust that your body knows what to do. If you are too spent to move, then choose rest and be okay with that option too.
- Acknowledge yourself for a job well done. You just felt all of the depth of an emotion and survived!
Keep on using this model until you become comfortable with your emotions. The first time you run through this it might feel awkward and could take a while. Over time, this process will speed up and you will become a master at feeling your feelings and a spiritual teacher in your own life. I don’t know about you, but to me that sounds way better than picking up a broom.
Let me know how this process works for you! What happened once you let go and felt something? Did you feel a shift? Empower your feelings and leave your story below!