Do I really have to feel my feelings?

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A few weeks ago, I saw an ex-boyfriend, we broke up on good terms. We had dated on and off for five years- our relationship was a huge part of my development.  It just wasn’t a good fit – we collided over and over again, repeating well-worn patterns until we decided to do something different and break up for good. It was a relief for both of us when it happened.

We texted each other after he departed and said a word of gratitude for the lessons we had learned during our time together.

He was in town for work and asked if I wanted to grab a bite.  We met up, ate burgers, and talked about our lives since our split: dating, family, work, and future plans. We were both happy to see each other doing well.  We texted each other after he departed and said a word of gratitude for the lessons we had learned during our time together. It was nice to catch up and to see someone who had been such an huge part of my life for so long.

 I checked in with myself. What was I feeling?  Was it about my ex?

I woke up the next morning and was feeling off.  It was a mixture of feeling ungrounded and anxious.  I checked in with myself. What was I feeling?  Was it about my ex?  It wasn’t regretting our breakup or wished we were still together but I didn’t feel like my happy self.  I prayed and asked the Universe to move the energy.   I wrote it off, plowing ahead with my day, assuming that when I started moving the energy would move as well.

I didn’t feel like my happy self. 

But, I found myself distracted and agitated.  Everything was fine, I insisted. I worked, I meditated, I boxed, I prayed, and then my mom called.

I felt stupid and mystified, why was I crying?

The hard part about being in a family full of intuitves is that we all know when something is off even if you don’t want to admit it.  When I told her about seeing my ex, I got teary.  I felt stupid and mystified, why was I crying?  I was happy.  My life was peaceful and I was having fun being single.  I’d grown to love my freedom and I was enjoying using this time to get to know myself outside of a relationship. Between my parents’ traumatic divorce and the constant fighting with my ex, it was the first time in years I’d had room to reconnect to Sonia.  

Those feelings were uncomfortable and I had been in so much discomfort for so long that I was over it.

When I sunk in a little deeper, I realized that since seeing my ex, I had been pushing away the not so comfortable emotions that seeing him brought up. Feelings of disappointment, of being vulnerable,  of the mix of anticipation and anxiety about the future, about dating,  about life.  I didn’t want to feel any of those things. Those feelings were uncomfortable and I had been in so much discomfort for so long that I was over it.

We scramble and do whatever we can to try and feel better.

We’re quick to do whatever we can to try and shift out of our feelings that are hard: sadness, pain, fear, vulnerability, the list goes on.  We scramble and do whatever we can to try and feel better. Years ago, I once ran 10 miles to try to suffocate my body from feeling anxious. I hadn’t run in years and what I was actually trying to do was run out of my body and outrun my anxiety.  

Funny things about feelings, unless we process them, they follow us. 

 I didn’t want to feel sad because it didn’t match with how I felt about my life. Funny things about feelings, unless we feel them, they follow us. 

The energy moved, my heart no longer felt burdened.

Once I stopped resisting and just let myself feel what my intellect told me was illogical (why am I crying?!?!), everything shifted. I had a moment, shed some tears and acknowledged what was emotionally real for me. After allowing myself a release, it felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. The energy moved, my heart no longer felt burdened. I felt better. I wasn’t playing hide and go seek with myself.

If we don't try to preemptively brace ourselves from being uncomfortable, we can get to the root. 

 We play dumb when it comes to our feelings.   We are masters of disguise.  Our intellects act confused “why are you feeling weird today?" But, if we don't try to preemptively brace ourselves from being uncomfortable, we can get to the root.  Most of us haven’t had good role models when it comes to feeling anything other than happy.  Boys are told to “man up”, girls are told they’re being too emotional or needy. 

It’s not easy to trust that hard emotions will move.

However, we need to reprogram this thinking, starting by being gentle with ourselves.   It’s not easy to trust that hard emotions will move. There is a part of us that doesn’t trust that we have room in our body to encompass all of it, simultaneously. The intellect wants it to be all good or all bad – all happy or all sad. When it doesn’t match up with our experience, we come up with a million different ways to escape our feelings. We rationalize, we intellectualize, we get angry, we check out, the list goes on.

The elephant in the room doesn’t go away.

The elephant in the room doesn’t go away. We can pretend it’s not there and try to live in the spaces in the inbetween but after a while, it gets pretty cramped.  We have to remember, we can trust ourselves. We can trust our bodies and with our not so comfortable emotions – especially sadness, vulnerability, fear and trust that we won’t get stuck.

The underlying fear I see often is that if I let myself feel anything other than good, I’m weak

 The underlying fear I see often is that if I let myself feel anything other than good, I’m weak and I’ll won’t ever feel better. Couple that with our social media saturated world that promotes this manufactured life that looks perfect all the time and we strangle the depth out of our own experiences. Where there is light, there is shadow. We have room for both and we can trust that it’ll move if we allow ourselves to feel.

The funny part is avoiding just feeling makes the experience even more intense.

Being vulnerable is tough especially since no one told us it was okay, it’s not weakness but strength.   Feeling uncomfortable feelings is scary – especially when we’re avoiding them.  We’re strategic and skilled – the amount of energy expended and smoke bombs thrown to avoid the emotional wave is incredible.    The funny part is avoiding just feeling makes the experience even more intense. It’s like when you get up on the high diving board –peak over the edge and think jumping. Thoughts make the jump scarier and scarier - how long of a fall it is, how cold the water will be, what if I belly flop, what if I hit my head and drown. The longer you stand up there, the scarier it is to take the leap. Yet, if you stop thinking about it and trust yourself and jump, you might feel scared as you fall. But, once you’re in, you’ll be happy you trusted yourself to take the plunge.