Feelings-whoa, Whoa, WHOA, FEELINGS…do we have to go there?
Valentine’s Day is a holiday created to celebrate love. Are there times when you have felt this holiday missed the mark for you-perhaps without a relationship to celebrate or not wanting to feel ANY emotions- love or otherwise?
Millions of people avoid and numb out to their feelings. And there are reasons and choices for that. Whether that choice leads us to a healthier life is here to be noticed. First let’s recognize some common responses we’ve become accustom to when avoiding our feelings. Consider the common response we say when asked, “How are you feeling?”
These responses of “feelings” have no association to real emotions. They are possibly a learned response to suﬃce when busy and there is no time or comfort to actually be with what real emotions a person may be feeling. Actually this response can feel dismissive and that we really don’t matter. We usually avoid at all costs any “messy” feelings, so we make-up a general, brief, “don’t-really-reveal-too-much” phrases to keep emotions at arms-length. We can continue avoiding the truer feelings we have within us for a really long time, especially if we are not reminded and accepting of the wide assortment of emotions actually available to us as humans.
In case you’re ready to be more curious about this, let’s take a moment to step into some questions that may unfold to reveal more:
Are we holding back our deeper feelings as a way to protect ourselves?
Could that protection have been created when we were younger?
Are we willing to look at how we truly feel with a new perspective-one of acceptance no matter what?
Let’s first consider that the protection from our authentic emotions to feel was needed as a child to feel safe, though may actually be a barrier now as an adult. Let’s consider that this protection barrier to our deeper feelings now is buried deep within us, and is yearning to be healed and released and accepted.
Would it be a surprise to know that as a human we have a wide spectrum of emotions that is actually built into our natural operating system for our support and guidance?
Would it be a surprise to realize that numbing out or not facing our emotions is a technique we develop when we are young to provide safety when life seems too uncomfortable to feel?
And would it be a surprise to realize that avoidance of our feelings buries these emotions even deeper within us?
If you have hung with me so far, I’d like to celebrate the Part of you that is curious and willing to open to a new awareness about your brilliant operating system-your emotions. And with that awareness you have the opportunity to feel more freedom within yourself.
An ostrich has a brilliant technique when faced with a threat-to bury its head. Brilliant, right? It does not seem like the best overall approach to me though at times it can seem like the best choice we have. Consider that this technique was the application we used when faced at a very young age in times when we felt unsafe, confused, frightened, etc. A child’s response to a situation that is beyond them is to hide, and it is an awesome solution until it no longer fits. My granddaughter goes to hide in her tent when her surroundings seem frightening-even when a loud noise startles her. It won’t be long until her growing body cannot fit there. As a grown-up this hiding technique takes on the form of what is referred to as a “black bag” where we throw anything we cannot deal with-throw it over our shoulder so it does not get in our way and perhaps we will deal with it later. That “black bag” gets bigger and heavier as we continue to stuff it and carry it with us. Imagine trying to get all of YOU into an elevator or your car day after day, year after year totting our bag! HEAVY! The technique may seem brilliant like the ostrich approach until we are forced (like a 2’ x 4’ moment) to stop and deal with challenges in life that will call us to feel:
Is my relationship in trouble?
Is this a normal cold or C*VID?
Is my job secure?
Will I be able to pay my bills if I change my job to grow myself?
How can I stop the overwhelm and take time to…
Take care of myself?
Attend to my aging parents?
How can I be a supportive parent when my child is facing addiction?
These challenges can be a gateway calling to us to feel what we try not to feel-WHOA! Stop right there!
For right now, in this moment, I invite us to stop ourself and that “black bag” tsunami (before the 2’ x 4” moment needs to happen), to bring in our Inner Wisdom, to coach us to notice, to slow down, to lighten the load, to breathe. This moment of willingness can be a monumental moment. We and our “black bag” stop running and pushing through for a moment to shift perspectives by our own choice. In this moment right now, let’s join in a brief exercise to notice what we’re noticing.
Start with a simple question from within, “How/what are you really feeling right now?”
Breathe and close your eyes if you feel safe to do so or soften your gaze
Repeat your question, “How/what are you really feeling right now?”
Notice what you are noticing- perhaps you hear a response in words perhaps you feel a sensation in your body perhaps you have another sensory response (like a moment of calm or chaos) perhaps you notice no response
Accept what shows up without judment
Breathe and gently open your eyes
Remind yourself that you can repeat this exercise to connect within yourself as a beginning step to get in touch with your feelings-safely and offering a moment to connect to yourself.
An amazing gift can occur in this short exercise. Too often the busy-ness of life becomes the default mode that is a barrier to actually connect to feelings. Once that barrier has become established then safely undoing it seems harder and harder to face. Unrealized is that our not feeling sends the emotions deeply to be buried or stuffed away. Sometimes the build-up can bring emotions that come out “sideways”-and have little to do with what is actually showing
up-an explosion of rage over a simple act, a breakdown in tears “out of the blue”. This moment of noticing, like we just experienced, can be the opening so needed to relieve the heaviness of life. We matter. Taking time to connect with ourselves matters, and is a gift no one else can give to us. We are worth that moment of attention.
If you start to notice some sense of feeling being revealed as an emotional outlet, you may wonder what steps can you take to continue transitioning and uncovering more about yourself. Check in with some of the suggestions to see if these are a right fit for your next step:
Journal-connecting your thoughts and feelings within yourself to come through a pen to paper can offer a wonderful release and shift in perspective.
Consider connecting with a life coach that specializes with emotional training such as Voice Dialogue or other emotional work.
Walks in nature.
Connect with a good friend that holds compassion and caring listening skills for you
Repeat the exercise to continue noticing. Notice if you can see/feel the emotion floating away that no longer serves you
Connect with other holistic healing techniques such as accupuncture, homeopathic practitioners, NET chiropractors, or therapy.
Why would we want to take the steps to feel our feelings? Just like the ostrich putting our head in the sand, the body is still be exposed to face what’s there to be faced.
Taking steps to face our emotions offers us healing-it is said, “We must feel to heal.” This may be the beginning of this journey, and noticing feelings may be scary, though as we become more familiar with our emotions, there may a noticing of acceptance and gratitude for the guidance they offer. We can also soon realize our feelings are quite normal-we all have them. We may then soon realize that checking in with our feelings can offer more of life than we ever felt before.