If you’re jealous of your friend’s new home, if you’re angry with your boss because you were passed over for a promotion, if you’re sad because your dog died, if you’re lonely because you don’t have someone to share your life with – even though it might not feel good, it’s OK.
There’s so much talk about being authentic. Start by being authentic with yourself first.
Hate it, love it, guilty about it, afraid of it, mad at it, ashamed of it, want it, envious of it, sad about it, happy about it, enraged by it, couldn’t care less about it. They’re all feelings, messages about your life telling you “This – yes.” “That – no.”
Your feelings are your internal compass giving you mountains of information about how you’re affected by the people, places and events of your world. What matters to you. And what you value. But you have to be willing to hear them.
We judge our tough feelings because they’re painful and we don’t know what to do with them. Don’t do anything with them. Don’t dwell on them. Don’t get rid of them. Don’t get lost in them. Don’t make a project of them. Just feel them.
If you stop judging your feelings and allow yourself to just feel them, your world will shift from beige to a kaleidoscope of colors, shapes, textures, sounds, smells and tastes. Your feelings add depth and breadth to your world.
Don’t banish your Negative Nelly, Moody Michael, Unhappy Ursula, Anxious Amy or Jealous John. Just listen to what they’re trying to tell you. If you listen carefully, your feelings have really important messages for you. But you can only get the message if you listen up and stop judging your feelings as acceptable or awful, good or terrible, happy or negative.
Can I tell you a secret? Come closer. I don’t want anyone else to hear. If you actually feel your feelings, they shift and change. Remember – what we resist persists. Nothing ever really stays the same. Unless we keep it hidden away from our awareness and experience.
So don’t listen to the naysayers, the pseudo-advice givers who tell you to always “Put on a happy” or “Get rid of your negative feelings”. They’re confusing feeling your feelings with acting them out or dwelling on them.
We’re afraid of our negative feelings because we haven’t been taught how to deal with them skillfully. So we ignore, repress, push away, eat up, project onto other people, pretend we’re fine, get sick, mess up our relationships and do crazy things so we don’t have to feel our pain. Even though it’s our truth in the present moment.
So start with awareness. “I’m feeling something.” That tightness in your throat, the throbbing in your head, that sinking feeling in your stomach, that clenching in your jaws or hands, the urge to inhale an entire container of Ben and Jerry’s – those are all signs to pay attention.
Then allow the feeling and really feel it. Accept it. Identify it if you can. Acknowledge what it’s about. Have compassion for yourself. Then hear the message your feeling is speaking.
Notice that compassion comes before knowing what the message is. If, instead of compassion, you move into judgment of yourself because you believe that your anger is petty, your jealousy isn’t spiritual or your impatience isn’t virtuous, you lose the opportunity for more self-understanding and growth.
And keep your monkey mind out of it. How often do we think that we’re feeling something when what’s really happening is that our mind has taken over and hijacked our feeling with its relentless commentaries and judgments?
If you experience all of your feelings, both the good ones that we all want to feel and the ones that aren’t so welcome, your life will be richer and your relationships deeper and more intimate, including your relationship with yourself.
If you do nothing else this week but identify your feelings and allow yourself to actually feel them, you’re on your way to freedom. Congratulations.
Oh and one more thing – remember that feeling and reacting are two different things.
Here are links to two wonderful videos. See what feelings come up for you … Eric Whitacre TED Talks and
(With thanks to my brilliant and creative friend, Charlene Brisson, the 3-Step Marketing wizard www.3-StepMarketingPro.com for always finding the best TED videos and sharing them with me.)