Has anyone ever taught you how to be with the uncomfortable emotions you experience? How to allow them and process them through your body, even though it may not be comfortable?
My guess is no. Most of us have not learned this crucial skill. Most of us don’t really know how to feel our emotions.
Instead, our tendency is to escape our emotions.
There are three main things we do with uncomfortable emotions.
First, we tend to resist them. This is confusing because so many of us think that resisting emotion is the same as feeling, but it creates no relief. It’s the difference between opening the door of an emotion and holding it shut. They both might seem productive, but resistance just creates more tension and perpetuates the emotion.
Reacting is another way that people like to describe feeling. Yelling or screaming or crying is not the same as feeling. When we act out our emotions, we seem to be releasing something and feeling something, but we’re often just acting them out and not processing or feeling them at all. Feeling doesn’t look like “acting” – feeling is something you can do sitting on a chair and experiencing a subtle vibration.
Our culture has made avoiding emotion quite easy and acceptable. The two most common ways people avoid emotions is by overeating/overdrinking and working. The majority of us don’t realize this is what we are doing, so we must raise our awareness and learn the difference between feeling and avoiding.
When we start to become more conscious of our feelings, we spend much more time observing ourselves.
This may be awkward and might not come easily. When we are afraid of feeling, we can remind ourselves that feelings are harmless. We can encourage ourselves to stay and be here no matter what we are experiencing.
I am here.
I am safe.
I can handle any emotion.
All I need is within me.
Allowing emotion feels better than escaping it.
Emotions are harmless. An emotion is simply a vibration, and nothing more. Emotions can be felt without taking any action or reacting at all.
Allowing emotion is a skill we can learn and practice.
It is not the same as reacting to an emotion.
It’s not the same as resisting.
It’s not the same as avoiding it or pretending it’s not there.
Let’s say you feel angry. When you allow the feeling of anger without resisting, reacting, or avoiding, you will notice it by observing it with compassion.
The easiest way to do this is to describe the emotion in detail. Write it down.
What am I feeling?
Where is it in my body?
How do I know I am feeling it rather than another emotion?
What is specific about this one?
Then, instead of trying to get rid of it, breathe it in. Allow it by opening your heart up to it. Move toward it. Know that you can handle the emotion. It’s just a vibration in your body.
Often, you will feel your body wanting to tighten up against it. That’s OK – just release it. Let the emotion be heavy or buzz or vibrate or agitate. Whatever the emotion needs to do in your body, allow without suffering. As soon as you’re observing and describing the emotion, feel yourself soften. Accept the emotion without judgment and notice.
It’s like the metaphor of carrying around a heavy purse of emotion for as long as it takes.
This skill is one of the most important you will ever learn. Once you are good at it, it can completely change your relationship with yourself and all the people you come in contact with because you won’t be reactive, but rather the compassionate observer.
To learn more on this topic, I encourage you to check out Brooke Castillo’s 5-Minute Emotional Makeover. You can find it here.
What are you feeling right now? In this moment?
Can you allow yourself to feel it, even if it is uncomfortable?