Feel Your Feelings (and let others feel theirs)

When you feel a “negative” emotion what do you do? Do you ignore it? Try to think of “happy” thoughts to try and make it go away? Do you fill your head with stories making it worse?

We have all of these and many more strategies to try and NOT feel negative emotions. This never works as well as we’d like it to. Bottled up emotion leads to other problems. Bottled up sadness might lead to depression. Bottled up anger might lead to resentment.

By pretending these emotions don’t exist or by distracting ourselves from them, we make them more powerful and persistent.

The fastest way to move through any “negative” emotion is by feeling it fully. As I wrote a few days ago, get in touch with the emotion on the most basic, physical level.

  • Where do I feel it in my body?
  • What shape is it?
  • Is it light, heavy, sharp, dull?

Give it as much detail as possible.

When we avoid and distract ourselves from these feelings, they get stronger and stay longer. The absolute fastest way to get through them is to become aware of them, and let them pass over you like a storm. It may be painful, but not nearly as painful as it will be if you don’t deal with it right now.

The same goes for our relationships with others. If we really want to help someone feel better about something, then saying things like “don’t feel bad” or giving advice isn’t always the answer. Sometimes people have a good reason to feel sad, and we can help by giving them permission to feel it.

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