November 30, 2015
Feelings may not be what you think they are…
I grew up conflicted about expressing feelings. It depended on who I was talking with. Some saw my expression of feelings as healthy and evidence of being in touch with my deepest self. Others made it clear they thought I was too sensitive and needed to get a grip.
Either ‘too much’ or ‘not enough’. These are euphemisms for when a feeling makes me, or somebody else, uncomfortable.
Here’s how it worked. If I was ‘too much’, I withdrew all expression and looked justfinethankyouverymuch.
If I felt ‘not enough’, I tended to emote all over the place.
A dictionary definition of emoting is: ‘To express emotion, especially in an excessive or theatrical manner’. That was me when I felt not seen, not heard, not understood.
So I either expressed all over you, or withdrew to a rigid place inside myself. Even today, unless you ask me, you probably won’t know what I’m feeling, regardless of what I’m showing you on the outside. If I’m on automatic pilot, I can emote or shut down without ever having felt a feeling at all, and neither of us will know it.
Feelings are an inside job. They are expressed as physical sensations in your body. As soon as you soften and experience the physical sensations, they will have their organic life and then leave. Only to be replaced seconds later by another feeling or set of feelings.
Okay, so how do you feel them? How do you integrate them so that they can sink in and be useful? It’s the pause mantra – pause, breathe, notice your story, soften your body. (You’ll know you’re avoiding a feeling when every muscle in your body seems tense.)
I read a great line somewhere: “Feelings happen in the body and they are different than the thoughts that are happening inside your head.”
When a feeling continues to express in your body and hangs around longer than a few seconds or minutes, consider that it may be information that you’re back in your mind, not in your body.
If all this sounds foreign, take it in lightly, play with it, or tuck it away for later.
The magnificent thing about feelings is that you’ll get another chance. They’re always in the wings, waiting to support and enrich your life when you’re ready.