Feel your feelings

“Nothing destroys self-worth, self-acceptance and self-love faster than denying what you feel. Without feelings you would not know where you are in life. Nor would you know what areas you need to work on. Honor your feelings. Allow yourself to feel them.”

~ Iyanla Vanzant

When you’re depleted, when you’ve been too strong for too long, learn to recognize you have some unmet needs. It’s hard to put on a happy face day after day, eventually your emotional reserves are exhausted. When you’ve stuffed your feelings over and over until you fall apart, you have no other option than to take the time to analyze what’s going on inside you.

We all experience huge challenges in our lives. Sometimes these challenges cause us a great amount of pain. It’s natural to want to run away from painful emotions. When you’re feeling confused and frustrated, the most effective course of action is to give yourself permission to feel your feelings. It’s actually much easier to feel your feelings as they surface instead of bulldozing your way through one task after another until you just can’t do it anymore and you fall apart.

A good example of this is my amazing mother. She grew up on a ranch; she went to college, got a degree, married and had eight children. Later she went back to school and earned her Master’s degree. She was super smart! She typed and edited people’s thesis. She was loving and kind. She taught Sunday School, worked at an alternative high school and gave money to the homeless. She talked to and helped everyone around her. She was a great lady. As with all of us, there were also some things she didn’t do well which made life harder. She was extremely task oriented. Sometimes she would push herself until she had no physical or emotional reserves left and then have such a big melt down that it would take a couple of days for her to recover. When things were piling up, instead of slowing down to feel her feelings, analyze why she was feeling overwhelmed and make a plan of how to resolve the situation, she would just keep pushing herself to do what had to be done. This wasn’t a very successful strategy because before long her negative emotions would completely hijack her life and bring everything to a screeching halt. I saw her repeat this pattern over and over.

It’s better to get in touch with your unresolved feelings. When we ignore our emotions they seem to come out sideways. For example, we get sick, we yell at our kids, our pain surfaces as road rage, etc. It’s not healthy. Feelings aren’t right or wrong, they just are.

When I feel the pressure building up and I can tell I’m about to explode, I take steps toward becoming aware. I talk out loud while I’m driving in the car. I write in my journal, where no one else will see. I call a friend and ask them to just listen while I vent. I do whatever it takes to figure out exactly what I’m thinking and feeling.

Have you ever had food poisoning? The only way to get the bad bacteria out of your system is to throw up. Once it’s all out, you feel a whole lot better and your body can recover. Emotionally, we need to do the same thing; get the poison out. Get it out in appropriate ways. You may feel like yelling and screaming, or maybe you need a good cry. Allow yourself to lean into the emotion completely, like you’re a child again. Shine a light into all the dark corners of your heart and mind. You will then discover what your real fears are and be able to deal with them with more clarity and compassion.