One thing I’m always working on with clients is helping them to acknowledge and accept their feelings.
We’re all great at accepting the positive feelings. The ones that make us feel good and comfortable. It’s the feelings that we generally think of as “negative” that are a bit harder to process.
There’s No Such Thing As A “Negative” Feeling
Many of us have the tendency to stuff down our fear or sadness or shame. We do this because these feelings are so uncomfortable.
It doesn’t help that we’re living in a society that’s always talking about the importance of looking good and feeling great! Think about all the pills and procedures available to “fix things” for you if you don’t.
We are not typically encouraged to let ourselves fully experience our so-called “negative” emotions. So when my clients become aware that they might be avoiding certain feelings, these are the first ones they notice coming up.
Emotions Can Be Messy
Anger can be messy. Sadness can be messy. We may dissolve into tears or erupt in an outburst. Our emotions might make other people feel uncomfortable or want to run away from us.
If you’ve grown up with the goal of trying to be comfortable at all times and make sure that everyone else around you is comfortable as well, then it makes sense to avoid the messiness of feelings.
Here’s the problem. Avoiding them doesn’t make them go away. All you’ve done is bury them and it takes a lot of energy to keep those feelings buried.
If You’re Not Feeling the Bad Ones, You’re Probably Not Feeling the Good Ones Either
The other realization that many of my clients have is that they’ve actually trained themselves to avoid feeling the good emotions as well as the bad ones.
They’ve spent years refusing to celebrate their own wins or get excited when they land a new client or give a talk that goes really well.
Often, this refusal is tied to a fear of what might happen if they let themselves celebrate. They think, “If I get really excited about this I’ll just be more disappointed when it doesn’t work out next time. I’ll jinx it.”
Sometimes the fear is about seeming conceited or making the people around them jealous or resentful. So they just continue to set limits on the emotions they’ll allow themselves to experience.
The Key is Awareness
I once heard someone say that emotion is an acronym for “energy in motion.” Our emotions are so often compared to water because they’re meant to flow.
By safely releasing and allowing our emotions to flow, we get access to whole new parts of ourselves. We recoup the energy we’ve been wasting on holding our emotions in check.
I’m not suggesting that you lash out and hurt other people, or drown in your own sadness. In fact, when you embrace your feelings and allow yourself to fully feel them, you become UNstuck. You also become clearer, more present and more grounded.
Realize That Your Emotions Are Not Who You Are
As I wrote in my previous post, Just Because You Feel It Doesn’t Mean It’s the “Capital T” Truth, your feelings don’t always give you the complete picture of what’s going on.
A lot of people hold back when it comes to expressing their emotions because they’re afraid of being labeled by them. But just because you’re feeling sad right now, doesn’t mean that you’re a sad person living a sad life, or that you’ll always be sad.
It just means you’re feeling sad right now. And that’s totally okay.
Are you stuffing down your emotions or allowing them to flow freely? Leave a comment below.