Feel Your Feelings: Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Body
“We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us.”– Albert Einstein
Everyone is entitled to their feelings. This statement is powerful. But accepting its validity is only part of the process when you’re learning to feel your feelings. I’ve seen people cling to this piece of wisdom and not grow beyond it.
Scenario 1: They use their emotions to punish themselves. For example, their thinking goes something like this, “She hurt me. I’m entitled to feeling hurt, because everybody lets me down. Nobody loves me.” They get stuck feeling their feelings and they become overwhelmed by them, because they don’t know how to fully process them in a healthful way. And because those feelings feel so bad, they sink into depression and despair.
Scenario 2: People can be highly sensitive and they take on emotions that are not their own. They absorb the emotions of everyone they meet. The atmosphere in a room changes their emotional state. They lose themselves along the way.
Scenario 3: We learn that emotions aren’t safe. To protect ourselves from the pain, we build walls around our emotions, becoming fearful of showing our authentic selves. Over time, this suppression of emotions hardens our hearts. When emotions build and become too much to bear, they break through in uncontrollable waves of anger or anguish.
Obviously, these are just a few of the many unhealthy, unproductive ways to feel your feelings. If nothing else, please understand this: every emotion has a message you need to hear.
What we want to focus on now is how to create a process so you can feel your feelings in a way that allows you to hear the message, and use it to your benefit.
Here is my four-step process to feel your feelings fully and productively.
1. Recognize when you’re in your head space. When you’re stuck in your head, you ruminate over mistakes and can’t let them go. Not only that, you criticize and beat yourself up. Nothing productive comes from this. Every time you feel an emotion ask yourself, “What am I feeling?” Put a name to it, without judging it. You may have to peel back a few layers to get to the true feeling — “I’m hurt…I feel betrayed…my pride has been wounded.” Once you discern what emotion you’re feeling, make a conscious effort to bridge yourself to the next step.
The bridge to step 2 is to mindfully breathe deeply and explore further with curiosity.
2. Get into the body. Become The Observer and notice what lives in your body. Be still and mindfully allow yourself to develop a greater sensory awareness — notice your body and how your emotions affect it somatically. Be patient with yourself, as you develop this skill.
3. Determine the overriding belief. What is the belief that gets in the way of connecting with my feelings? Some common beliefs are: “Being emotional makes me vulnerable and that makes me weak.” “My feelings don’t matter.” “If I am my authentic self, people won’t like me.” “It’s better to hide my feelings than experience fear, pain or loss.”
4. Practice mindfulness daily. Giving gentle attention to your mindfulness practice will deepen your sensory awareness. Noticing little things — how you eat, breath, sit — will get you in the habit of mindfulness; it will be easier when bigger things, like your emotional reactions, need to be processed.
The goal is to sit quietly and feel your feelings until the message is clear. When you feel peaceful, you have your answer, whether or not you like what that answer is.
How will practicing my 4-step process improve your life?
- You will learn to lean into your feelings, eager to discover what they’re trying to teach you.
- Feelings will become your friends who are to be appreciated, which lead to confidence that your authentic self is a gift to the world.
- As you connect feelings to body sensations, you’ll create a greater self-awareness and ability to shift your state to one that serves you better.
- You’ll learn how to allow the physical sensation of your emotions to extinguish itself, as you acknowledge it and release it.
- You’ll be able to feel your way through your emotions, connecting with your inner wisdom, which leads you to an appropriate action, even when you’re under pressure.
- You’ll learn how to clear the emotions of others, so they don’t alter you.
“Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final”
~ Rainer Maria Rilke
The more you lean into whatever is asking to emerge, the more your life opens up. Would you like to explore this further? Please contact me and schedule a 30-minute complimentary consultation by phone or via Zoom to see if working together is a good fit for both of us.