There is little that is tenderer, or more fragile than our feelings. At times we are overcome by them, and at other times we crave them. (Imagine grief — imagine love.) We celebrate the “positive” ones and avoid, ignore, push-away the so-called “negative” ones. We diminish ourselves when the negative ones dare to inhabit us. But, surprisingly, we know so little about our feelings; even less on how to handle them.
We use our minds to think our way through a problem in order to solve it. So it seems natural that we try to use our minds to solve the problem of negative feelings—by thinking our way through it. We do this with the uncontested belief that: if I can just figure out why I’m feeling this way, it will go away… Really? Or: if I don’t pay it any attention, belittle it, stuff it in a corner and turn my back real quick, I can ride into the sunset on a cloud of positive thinking! How often have you turned your back on negative feelings and they evaporated from your being ? just like that? The feelings that we diminish, stuff, or otherwise cover-up, have this sticky quality to them. They bounce back, sometimes sneaking-up on us. When this happens it can leave us feeling perplexed — wondering: why am I feeling this way?
So, what can we do with feelings? How do we deal with this sticky business of rebounding emotions? If avoiding isn’t fully satisfactory, and you’ve analyzed it raw, and still no satisfaction, what else can there be?
Just feel it —emphasis on the word just, it is key here. Feel your feelings without judgment, thoughts or analysis. In other words, just be with it. Yes, this is a form of “mindfulness meditation” (more on mindfulness at a later date).
Emotions aren’t good, bad or negative. They are natural reactions to triggers in our lives. They crop-up because we are human, and as humans we feel — just as we breathe, eat and move. If you hold an ice cube in your hand, and your hand feels the sting from the frost, is the pain in your hand negative, bad or wrong somehow? No. It’s simply a message to your hand that you are holding something that hurts….a warning system. NOTE: Prolonged holding of ice cube is really painful and portends possible damage to hand. We get that, without conscious thought or judgment, because that pathway is well established and healthy.
What we don’t know makes us fearful. So that, when we ignore those uncomfortable feelings, we create an aura of fear about them. Ultimately, by ignoring those uncomfortable feelings (that we also fear), we are ignoring a part of ourselves. As an alternative, I propose that you consider taking that part back — that part of yourself. Acknowledge it. Accept it. Just be with it. Fear crumbles when it’s brought into the light. Suddenly, you don’t have to be afraid of your own feelings.
How does that feel?