Get In Touch With Your Feelings
Do you ever feel angry? How about enraged? Do you ever get so frustrated you want to smash something? Do you ever find yourself avoiding or running away from people or situations, perhaps without even realizing it?
Well of course you have. You’re human. We all experience these behaviors and emotions to some degree. The price of running from your feelings is not experiencing True Lasting Happiness. Thing about how bad do you feel in these situations. The good news is it is possible to feel less bad less often.
You Gotta Stop Running
Until you are in touch with and understand your feelings your emotional stability will be at the mercy of your daily circumstances. When you don’t face your emotions, they control you, they choose how you feel. When you don’t understand your emotions, you behave in a knee-jerk manner which causes compound problems in your relationships, your career, and in your attempt to live a happy life.
Break Past The Fear
The process of understanding your true feelings is actually easy to do. What’s hard is releasing your fear of how you’re feeling. The main thing to remember is:
OK, so this is easier said than done, but it CAN be done. Seriously, when you let your guard down to face your feelings, know this:
- You will be okay. (link to anxiety)
- You won’t fall to pieces.
- You may cry.
- You may shake.
- You may feel uncomfortable, icky, weird, sad, ugly, scared, or anxious. (link to anxiety)
- You may feel this for a while but it will pass through you.
- And you will be okay.
- Don’t be afraid to cry, to shake, to feel uncomfortable.
- It won’t hurt you.
- It won’t break you.
- In fact, you will be happier in the long run!
Feelings are like a river. When you let them flow they pass through you and don’t get jammed up. That makes room for better feelings to follow. Like a river, if you dam up your feelings they will start to spillover on the sides. You can’t hold it back forever.
Whenever there is a breach of your dam (you’re tired, you get into an argument, things don’t go your way, etc.), your bad feelings will come pouring forth in a hard to control torrent. Because of this you good may say and do things you regret. You know how that goes.
But if, instead, you let your emotions flow freely and allow yourself to express them, feel them, and examine them, then calmer waters will flow eventually. It doesn’t mean you’ll never have choppy waters come through again, but when they do, if your dam is down, they will be more manageable.
How To Understand Your Feelings
It’s a simple process really. But the hard part is being consistent and committed to doing it. Here’s how.
Feel Your Feelings
Any time you experience a strong emotion – mad, sad, frustrated, uncomfortable – ask yourself:
- How do I feel right now?
- Tell me more about that.
- What else?
- How do I really feel? What’s behind how I’m feeling?
- Why do I feel this way?
- Who is involved?
- What are the circumstances?
- What is going on with me physically?
- Am I hungry? Tired? Hormonal? Stressed?
- Am I under the influence of:
- Poor nutrition?
- Lack of exercise?
- Do I have physical pain from:
- An injury?
- Bad digestion?
- Tight shoes?
- What is my part in how I feel? (We always have a part in how we feel and have choices about moving past it.)
Easier Said Than Done
Be prepared. Often we will put up roadblocks to answering these questions because of two main factors:
1. Fear. We talked about this already, but again it is hard to dissolve this. Over time however you can build a habit of allowing fear to evaporate away.
2. Desire To Be Right/To Win.
For example, maybe you are angry at your spouse for a choice they are making or for words they said. We get locked into our side of an argument either out loud or in our minds. We feel strongly that we are right and, gosh darn it, we want to win this argument! We want our spouse to acquiesce to our superior judgment and insight. Why? So we can control the situation. Whew!
That’s a lot to hold onto. Unless it is a matter of life or death, there comes a point where the best thing to do is release our desire to control.
Oh, this is so hard! But I’m getting a little ahead of myself here. The point about #2 – wanting to be right – is that it can block us from being in touch with our true feelings.
You Say You’re Mad, But What Are You Really Feeling?
So to illustrate, using the same example:
You ask yourself, “How am I feeling?”
You: “I’m mad! That jerk refuses to keep our home tidy.”
“What’s my part in this?”
You: “My part? I have no part in this mess. He makes me angry.”
So if you continue to insist that you are “just mad and that’s all there is to it!” then you won’t get to the true issue. You’ll get stuck there, and you won’t be able to pinpoint your true feelings. You’ll stay in the place of anger and hatred toward your spouse.
However if you can say to yourself “OK. I don’t have to be ‘right’ in this argument. I’m going to be open and explore this further.” Then you’ll be able to get to some root issues such as:
- Desire to control (why?)
- Desire for order (why?)
- How do you interpret your husband’s mess? Do you take it personally? Could there be another way to look at this?
- What is your part in this? (Do you enable the behavior, eventually picking up his mess? Does arguing over this small issue serve some other purpose such as avoiding discussing much more important issues that are bothering you?)
By examining your true feelings, getting to the heart of the matter, you will enable yourself to come up with real solutions. When you were just “mad,” that makes it hard to find a solution.
What To Do Once You Know Your True Feelings
If the feelings are good, (yes this is good to do with good feelings too!) Then you can ask yourself the empowering questions “How can I experience this more often? How did I get here? What led up to this?”
If the feelings are bad
1. The first order of business is to just be with the feeling. Don’t panic, and don’t run away from it. Don’t try to cover it up, ignore it, hate it, etc. Simply observe how, even though you may be uncomfortable, the feelings are not killing you. You can still breathe. You can still walk, talk, etc. (Remember fear is the real bugaboo. Don’t be afraid of how you feel. It can’t damage you.)
The more you allow yourself to “be with your feelings,” no matter how uncomfortable, the easier it will be for you to do this going forward. More and more, you’ll become less afraid of your feelings. You’ll see that nothing bad happens. And ultimately If this becomes a habit you’ll actually be much happier in the long run.
2. Assuming you want to change or move past the bad feeling, the next step is to determine what you can change.
Your approach? What’s the opposite approach? What is a different approach. If you’re stuck, check with a trusted friend for suggestions.
Your behavior? Can you reduce drama? Can you speak up for yourself more? What could you do different to get a different outcome?
Your habits? – Maybe you’re dealing with addiction. Allow yourself to feel the withdrawal, trusting and knowing it will get better over time.
Your approach? – Perhaps approaching your spouse differently will help in getting his cooperation, especially if you calmly explain what you’ve discovered, where you might have been wrong, and ideas to reach a compromise going forward.
The circumstances? – Can you change your job if it is draining you of joy? Can you disengage from a toxic relationship? Can you change your living circumstances? Sometimes these things can take time, but if you put together a plan and take action each day you can get there.
Your Perspective? – Sometimes the only thing we have control over is how we view a situation. Are we willing to change how we see a problem in order to achieve peace and happiness? Maybe your spouse will never be as tidy as you would like. Maybe you decide to accept it. This means truly allowing it to be okay without grudges, anger, or resentment. This means viewing your spouse in a compassionate way being understanding of his limitations. (maybe he works long hard hours or maybe organization is his weakness.)
Grief is another situation where the only thing we can control is how we handle it. It’s eventually making peace with the situation, allowing it to be okay in your heart and mind.
Changing your perspective is finding a way to see the good in something we can’t change although we wish we could. This is not easy, but it is doable, and on the other side of that mountain is a life with peace in it.
Make Friends with Your Feelings
To experience true lasting happiness, try this: Get in touch with your true feelings when strong emotions arise. Get rest if you need it. Get support if you need it, the kind that will help you examine the situation to get out of the hole, not who is going to help you dig the hole deeper. Write your feelings down or have a little talk out loud with yourself. However you do it, make friends with your feelings. Recognize them and you’ll be able to move forward.
Wishing you much happiness!
I would love to hear about your experience with strong emotions and how you handle them. You can comment below.
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