Lately, I'm learning how to not judge or ignore my feelings.
EVEN WHEN they are SUPER ICKY and I HATE myself for feeling them.
EVEN WHEN they make me feel ashamed for even feeling them.
EVEN WHEN at first glance they seem like they don’t serve me.
Because our feelings are who we are. They’re our guideposts in this life – they show us the way.
And so I’m trying to change the way I relate to these negative emotions.
In the past, I’ve been a master judger and ignorer of feelings.
Here’s what I’ve learned in dealing with my feelings the wrong way:
We can’t ignore our feelings away. They don’t just go away. They may dissipate for a few days here, a few days there, but they will always come back up until they’re dealt with.
Some of us are masters at ignoring our feelings – and they come out in really destructive ways.
I have CERTAINLY been there. In college, I couldn’t deal with the feelings of uncertainty I had about my then boyfriend. Instead of addressing them, I ignored them – I thought there was something wrong with me because I didn’t want to be with him any longer. The more I suppressed, the worse my behavior became – until I cheated on him. To this day, I am ashamed that I did this. But had I addressed my feelings in the first place and allowed them to be valid, I highly doubt they would have come out in such a blaze of glory. One of my favorite pieces of wisdom is super relevant to this point: what you resist, persists.
Seeking validation for your feelings just perpetuates the issue. I know that when I have a negative feeling and feel badly about it, the first thing I want to do is prove that I’m justified for having that feeling. So, I talk to friends about it and try to gain consensus and evidence that I’m allowed to have the feeling I’m having. Basically, I’m seeking permission and trying to make myself right. This doesn’t work either. It makes things feel bigger than they are, it feels uncomfortable, and it creates an us vs. them mentality. Usually in these circumstances, the problem grows larger than it actually is and again, comes out in a blaze of glory.
So here’s what I’m trying instead:
1. Acknowledge and Examine: Ask yourself: what is this that I’m feeling? (really define it) why am I feeling this? What is going on for me? What is the reality of the situation? Allow yourself to speak from your irrational self and really throw a tantrum if needed.
2. Give yourself permission to feel those feelings and acknowledge that it is okay to feel that way.
3. Choose to see this differently: what is the good that can come from these feelings? What can I do to choose or create a different outcome?
4. ACT: this may require having a tough conversation, asking someone for help, writing, taking a leap of faith, making a change, ending something. Starting something. The point is that you choose what you do with the feeling.
Here is my attempt at applying this model to a recent bout of negative feelings.
What is it that I’m feeling: I’m feeling scared that I’m losing my friend’s support. I’m worried that she’s no longer going to be relatable to me. I’m afraid that I’m not going to matter to her. And I’m a little afraid to be left behind as she moves forward in a relationship.
Have I been here before? Yes. I massively resist change in friendships, especially when not on my terms.
I give myself permission to feel frustrated by the changing dynamic of my friendship with my friend.
The good that can come from this is we have the opportunity to address this and make more of an effort to be there for one another and not lose the closeness we have. I can choose to support her and believe that I am not being left behind, but being carried along and adding a richness to my life.
Act- I have to have a conversation with her about how I’m feeling and about the desire to make our friendship important.