Feelings can be hard for us to get to know (I can sense you cringing already but stay with me.) because our culture is largely feeling phobic. We are told that happiness is the goal. So, anything that doesn’t feel good, we avoid. For many of us, there is a lot of fear and confusion that arise when we even talk about “feeling your feelings”. We worry we will get lost in them, or overwhelmed by them, or wonder how it is going to appear to others if we express them.
After doing this work for a while now, I have found it helpful to think of emotions as simply a sensation in my physical self a vibration moving through me. Sometimes I am afraid to feel the sensations because I imagine they will be excruciatingly painful. And sometimes they are. But more times than not, when I get inside my body and simply NOTICE the vibrations I’m experiencing, it is not that painful after all. It is quite manageable.
For example, regret is something I do NOT like feeling. But when I do experience regret, I have learned to stop and notice the sensation in my body. I usually feel a tightening in my stomach, and possibly even waves of nausea. I feel my heart raising. I feel a fuzziness in my brain. I feel my throat tighten up and a heaviness in my chest, making it hard to take a deep breath.
By allowing myself to FEEL these sensations, they usually move and pass through my body very quickly, within 120 seconds, and then all those sensations release and I feel “normal” again.
So when I am trying to avoid feeling any emotion, I like to remind myself, “The worst thing that can happen right now is an emotion, and I can do that.”
Practice noticing emotions (negative or positive) today by identifying the sensations you experience in your body. Say it out loud to yourself. “I feel ____ here and _____here.” Keep paying attention for 60-120 seconds. Notice how you feel afterward. What changed?
Consider this: If you were not afraid to feel any emotion, how would you show up differently in your life? Would it be worth it to you to learn how to feel and process emotions? There is no right or wrong answer here, just an invitation to pursue that if you think it is a good time for you to do so.
*Again, if you have experienced Trauma, this practice might be a trigger for you, and therefore be potentially unsafe. Talk to a trauma-informed professional before attempting this to make sure this exercise is right for you.