No one likes to feel sad.
No one likes to feel angry.
No one likes to feel embarrassed, anxious, grief-filled, depressed, and a myriad of other emotions.
Since we hate to feel that way, we tend to avoid feeling that way at all costs.
We do a bunch of things that end up hurting us in the end to avoid feeling that way.
But what if we just felt the feeling?
Is it really all that bad?
Should it really be avoided at all costs, or would it be better to just feel it and move on?
I have a feeling you suspect the answers to those questions, but let’s talk about how to do it.
Feelings are only a Vibration
My cute sister-in-law showed me Jody Moore’s podcast and made sure to mention this concept up front: “Feelings are only a vibration in the body.”
I believe one of the main sources of my anxiety is what a therapist called “distress intolerance”.
Basically, I have a deep aversion to feeling at all uncomfortable. So not only do I occasionally feel uncomfortable, but I feel uncomfortable about being uncomfortable, and the loop continues, eventually ending in high anxiety.
So the concept that these feelings weren’t something to fear was a huge game changer for me. Feeling my emotions when they come, instead of pushing them away, has decreased my anxiety.
And it’s totally fine, because it’s just a vibration in my body.
These are some of the questions I learned from Jody that I ask myself when I start to feel an emotion I don’t like.
- Where do I feel it in my body?
- Does it move? Is it fast or slow?
- Does it have a texture?
- Does it have a temperature?
I love this because it allows me to get inside my body and really feel the feeling, rather than pushing it away.
It also allows it to stop spiraling because as we focus on what’s going on inside of our bodies, our thoughts are forced to stop spiraling out of control.
This process takes practice, and it’s not something that comes all at once. Maybe you only stay in your body for about 30 seconds the first time, and that’s okay. Just keep practicing.
Noticing our Buffers
First of all: What is a buffer?
A buffer is something we use to distance ourselves from our emotions. Basically we put it between us and our negative emotions, like a buffer.
Examples of these are social media scrolling, viewing pornography, eating (especially junk food), cutting, drugs, watching television, playing video games, etc.
We all use buffers. And that’s not bad. For example, most of my readers struggle with anxiety or depression. If watching your favorite movie takes the edge off a depressive episode, PLEASE don’t think you need to stop doing that. Please use what helps you.
What we want to notice is when a buffer is becoming destructive and is hurting us more than it’s helping us.
Is social media scrolling stopping me from accomplishing other things?
Is viewing pornography putting distance in my marriage? Is it against my morals?
Is overeating keeping me from feeling good and reaching my health goals?
If you are overusing certain buffers, or using a harmful one, it is likely because you are avoiding feeling a certain way.
Maybe you feel inadequate.
Maybe you feel overwhelmed so you figure it’s better to just not do any of it.
Whatever it may be, we can loosen our grip and reliance on our buffers when we realize the only thing we are hiding from is our feelings.
Let them come.
They will pass, I promise.
The pain that comes with feeling inadequate, you can totally handle that feeling.
The overwhelm that comes with being a college student, a parent, or really a human being, can totally be handled. Really. You can do it.
Let the overwhelm wash over you. Notice where you feel it. Let it pass through you.
Feeling our emotions allows us to eliminate negative coping mechanisms, or buffers.
Anxiety & Depression
While feeling emotions is still important when it comes to depression and anxiety, there are some things I want to warn against because it could be dangerous if you misinterpret what I’m teaching.
“Feeling” the emotion is not diving in and spiraling further into it.
For example, when suicidal thoughts arise, it’s not wise to dive deeper into that rabbit hole. Rather, other coping mechanisms or reaching out to someone who can help is a better alternative.
You CAN however, feel it by realizing.
“It’s okay, this will pass.”
“It’s normal to have these thoughts, and I know I don’t want to give into them.”
“I feel just awful right now, but I know I won’t feel awful forever.”
Or, with anxiety.
“I know this is anxiety.”
“I have felt this before and I have gotten through it.”
“Everything works out, even though I can’t see that right now.”
Please remember that negative feelings alone cannot hurt you. Although feeling them may hurt and be unpleasant, I promise you can come out on the other side unscathed.
But the things we do to avoid those emotions? Those can hurt you.
Choose the emotion. Choose to feel it, and choose to let it pass.
It will take practice and time, and don’t let it be something else to beat yourself up about, but as we learn to feel all of our feelings, the good and the bad, we can live much fuller lives and become stronger in the process.
It will aid in putting down those bad habits.
It starts in our head, goes to our feelings, shows up in our actions, and creates a result. It’s totally up to you.
That’s all for today my friends.
Always feel free to reach out with questions! Use the form on Contact Me, or DM me on Instagram and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
Stay calm. I love you!
Listen tomorrow about processing emotions in THIS episode of the podcast (Episode 5: Processing Emotions)