Simply put. Feelings drive all of our actions.
It’s important to discuss the difference between a feeling and a sensation. Sensations, like true hunger, physical pain, etc, are involuntary and begin in the body. Feelings (or emotions) start in the brain and are a vibration we experience in the body.
None of us likes to feel terrible. Feeling terrible does not feel good. We want to feel better, and so many of the things we do are an attempt to change or avoid feeling something. The problem is that most of us are going about that process in a way that isn’t working. Nobody teaches us HOW to feel or allow our feelings or why that is even important to do. So rather than feel our feelings, we tend to do one of the 3 following things:
- Resist- We hold down or push away an emotion. It’s kind of like the difference between holding a door shut or opening it up. Pushing that door shut creates more tension and causes the emotion to grow.
- React- this would look like “acting out” an emotion. Acting is not the same as feeling. Yelling, screaming, crying might be examples of reacting to an emotion.
- Avoid- There we so many ways in the world today to “avoid” feeling any emotion we don’t want to feel. Examples of avoiding our emotions might include overworking, overeating, overdrinking, pornography, social media, etc.
All 3 of the above options will most likely lead to similar results. Either the emotion or feeling intensifies, or it just gets buried.
The most useful thing we can learn to do with a negative emotion is to ALLOW it. This is definitely a skill we have to learn and practice. The easiest way to do this is 2 steps:
- Pick 1 word to describe how you are feeling. For example, sad, frustrated, disappointed, overwhelmed, bored, etc.
- Now imagine your were to describe this feeling to someone who has never felt it before. Where is it in your body? Is it fast or slow? Does it move around or stay in one place? Is it sharp or dull? Does it have a color associated to it?
As we get better at allowing our feelings, we will give our minds a break from the thoughts that caused them in the first place, we will have more compassion with ourselves, and better relationships with those around us.