Feel your feelings?! What does that even mean?

To feel your feelings you probably don't have to start doing anything. Instead, it's about stopping to do everything you do to avoid your feelings.

I have a confession to make. Despite working in the mental health field for more than three years, including developing an app specifically aimed at helping users with their feelings [1], I’ve only recently come to understand what feel your feelings actually means. It’s in all of the books on emotions i’ve read. I’ve come across it countless of times in different Instagram posts and my therapist has encouraged me multiple times as well. I just didn’t know what I had to do. Where’s the on button, to feel? How do I begin? I’ve finally come to realize that it isn’t something that we need to begin. Instead, it’s a lot more about stopping to do all the things we do to not feel our feelings.

For me, that was ignoring and avoiding my feelings. If I felt upset by something someone said, I would ignore it and tell myself that they actually didn’t mean it. Or in moments of doubt and sadness, instead of looking into the feelings to understand why, I would instead hope that I would feel “better” tomorrow. For years I told myself that I was fine and happy, completely ignoring the feelings of overwhelm and frustration that were building within me. For years.

Trying not to feel our feelings is pointless. Just because we don’t want to acknowledge that we feel a certain way doesn’t mean we don’t. We can’t wish our way to happiness. Our body will continue sending the message it believes we need to hear and will only shout louder until the signal can be ignored no longer. My feelings of frustration grew and grew and in the end I couldn’t handle it any longer. First I became miserable and then I became angry. Eventually, I burned out and was unable to get out of bed.

Ignoring our feelings is such a dangerous coping strategy because it requires no effort and because it can feels like it works. But it doesn’t. Like a snowball rolling down a hill, it’s better to stop it early on rather than be consumed by it at the bottom of the hill. Better to spend the time and effort now to properly learn how to feel your feelings, all of them, so you can begin to learn to manage them.

Notes

[1]: See more on www.feelmo.com

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