Learning How to Feel Your Emotions Again
Over the past five years, I’ve worked with thousands of women around the world, and something that still amazes me – and makes me sad – is how many people completely numb their emotions. In fact, when I prompt my clients to feel into their emotions, the response I often get is, “I don’t even know what that means.”
It’s common practice for us to numb our emotions when we feel stress, anxiety, or some other “bad” feeling. It’s a defense mechanism, but one that we can overcome, because the truth is that our emotions are there for a reason, and they are often a roadmap to living a happy, fulfilled life.
I spent years completely disconnected from my emotions. It was the main reason why I struggled with emotional eating and body image for so long. Any feeling or thought that was a “bad,” “negative,” or “stressful” red flag immediately caused me to shut down. However, the more desperate I got to overcome my food and body issues, the more I realized that my emotions were the root cause of the very issues I was trying to heal. It’s a lightbulb moment that changed the course of my life, set me on the path to recovery, and still informs my work with clients.
Sensation is Information
Pain, anxiety, and overwhelm occur for a reason. Sensations are the way that your body communicates with you. Think about it – our bodies do not have a language. The only way they can get our attention and make us realize that something isn’t quite right or needs to change is through feelings and sensations.
This is why pain can be your greatest teacher. When you numb it, you are missing the lesson that you are meant to learn. If you are experiencing pain, stress, or some other “bad” sensation, it’s likely that something is out of alignment or that something isn’t right in your life.
Instead of suppressing these emotions, you need to feel them in order to acknowledge and heal whatever is misaligned in your experience.
Allow Yourself to Feel Everything
Give yourself permission and space to feel the pain, sadness, or whatever else comes up for you. Don’t disconnect from those feelings, because then it’s likely that you’ll go into numbing mode, which may look like binge eating, drinking, sex, or some other harmful addictive behavior that helps you suppress your feelings.
Your body will never give you anything that you can’t handle. It knows exactly how to process your pain. It’s your mind that tends to kick up about negative feelings and goes into protector mode to keep you “safe.” Instead of falling victim to that faulty defense mechanism, give yourself the chance to feel and explore your feelings.
Removing labels when it comes to emotions can be helpful. There are no “good” or “bad” emotions, they are just sensations that your body experiences. Remove those labels and allow yourself to feel without casting any judgement or assigning any meaning to what you are feeling. The way you are feeling doesn’t need to mean anything, it just is what it is.
Where to Start?
These are the two methods that really helped me learn how to feel and trust my emotions:
Silence and stillness is an incredible and easy way to connect back into your body and higher consciousness. This practice can also help you if you struggle with food and body, because you will eventually learn how to tell the difference between an emotional hunger cue vs. a physical hunger cue. This means you’ll be less likely to turn to food or some other destructive behavior just to numb out from feeling a certain way. Meditation can also help relieve anxiety, stress, and overwhelm. It’s an effective tool to help you process your feelings and also figure out how to feel happy and free more often.
- Use Breath to Observe Rather Than Identify
Breathwork has become such an integral part of my life, and it was key in helping me reach recovery. When you start to feel overwhelmed by your emotions, take a deep breath and observe what you are feeling without identifying with it. This means that you just acknowledge what you are experiencing without assigning a meaning or cause for it. For example, instead of saying, “I am angry,” you would acknowledge, “I am experiencing anger right now.”
Show Yourself Patience, Grace, and Self-Compassion
The more aware you become of your emotions, the more cognizant you will become of when and why you are suppressing them. This is something that takes time and practice to achieve, so remember to show yourself patience, grace, and self-compassion.
As you begin to experience an ease and flow with feeling your emotions, you will establish a connection to your body and intuition that will help you with decision making and designing a life experience that makes you happy.
The more you feel your emotions, the better aligned you will become with your highest, best, and most authentic self.
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