Feelings will not kill you. They may be uncomfortable and they may last a little longer than you’d prefer, but they are there for a reason. Feelings give us information about what we might need. If you refrain from ignoring them by simply noticing them you may learn you are lonely and in need of connection or angry and in need of respect or boundaries. For example, imagine your boss is demanding you work late every day for a week and you agree because it’s a big project with a tight deadline, but after all is said and done you begin to feel irritated when she asks again the following week. Ignoring this, rationalizing it away, and doing nothing could potentially backfire into losing more and more personal time. Instead, you could acknowledge it, consider the pros/cons of addressing, and decide what you need to move beyond the anger/frustration.
We have emotions constantly, so getting rid of them is not realistic. Learning to use them instead will allow you to experience more positive emotions as they will not be hidden below the accumulation of denied realities. Consider this example:
Imagine you are taking a short walk to the park. When you first arrive you are amazed by the beautiful, clear sky and the pleasant sounds of the birds. You notice this and experience the wonder of being part of the universe. You find a comfortable seat under a shade tree, pull out a book, and the next thing you see is a Doberman pincher coming straight for you without a leash, owner, or any other form of protection. You jump up immediately, terrified of how this could go. Seconds later, you hear a whistle and the dog runs in the opposite direction as a tall man becomes visible beyond the hill in the distance. Suddenly, a warm bath of relief washes over you and you feel grateful that you have survived what could have been a really bad day!
I have just described a range of emotions in which you experienced one feeling after the next. This is Mindfulness in action. When we are present enough to observe our emotions and reactions we are also accepting what is real and processing that reality, so that we do not become buried under denial, resistance, and repetition of what happened in the past or what could happen in the future. We are alive for every moment and each emotion. This practice also allows you to fully engage with your surroundings as well as internal cues. Listening to your body and acknowledging your emotions does not mean always acting on them. It means slowing down long enough to explore, respecting they serve a purpose, and responding rather than reacting.
We all have emotions and would be in pretty rough shape without them…a bit robotic to be specific. If you struggle to understand your emotions or even identify them don’t feel bad! This isn’t the type of education we receive in school and many families didn’t learn from their families before them. The best we can do is start practicing now. If you suffer from overwhelming emotions and would like more tools to become friends with your feelings there are resources available. Start with reading one of my previous Mindfulness posts or you are welcome to contact me for a free 15-20 minute consultation. Either way, know that you can learn to use your difficult feelings to navigate life decisions, while experiencing a deeper level of joy, happiness, and freedom from chronic overwhelm. Already practicing mindfulness, radical acceptance, and a healthy relationship with your emotions? Please post your favorite practices or tips for success…I love hearing from you and I know our readers will appreciate learning too!