I don’t know about you, but I don’t jive well when I’m told to just “feel my feelings. ” I prefer to put my feelings to a positive use. Feeling for the sake of it feels *see what I just did there?* Like stewing in victimization.
But, what do I do when I have a negative emotion that I am not in a position to change? The truth is, I used to just run past the emotions as quickly as possible. I don’t like feeling angry, hopeless, afraid, or inadequate (my most common feelings, it applies to all negative ones)
This morning I was furious because I felt as though a family member was trying to bully me into cutting ties with my 14 year old sister. I know that the adult has mental health issues, and that her moods swing back and forth within minutes, but I almost sent her all my negative thoughts about her, just to spread out the feeling of anger and indignation I felt.
For a reason I have yet to figure out, I was able to stop myself. I put my phone on my bed face down and started stretching. I was still furious and indignant, but I physically forced myself to move forward with my day.
I didn’t move on entirely, obviously, but I didn’t try to. I felt angry until all I had left to feel was annoyance, then I tried to ask questions to get myself to a point where I could understand the way the other person’s mind was working.
Right now, 8 hours later, I’m feeling worried for my sister, proud to have stood my ground respectfully, and motivated to keep working toward becoming a child advocacy lawyer so that my sister gets to witness success, and knows it’s possible to have a pleasant life, and know that I will support her in the best ways I can.
So, a more effective way to phrase “Just feel your feelings,” in my experience is, give feelings time and space to escape. don’t fight feelings; they are like a minority, the harder you push them away the stronger they return to get their acknowledgement. Sometimes it takes years, but they will be “heard.”