How to Feel your Feelings…

Yfeel my feelingsou may be wondering, why would I want to feel my feelings ?! Because…it’s life-changing in many great ways… If you missed last week’s discussion about the importance and value of feeling your feelings, you can read about it HERE.

As promised last week, here are some ways to connect and begin the practice of feeling your feelings…

1) Catch the Feeling:  When you become aware of an emotion or feeling bubbling up, notice what situation or interaction preceded it.  Check-in with your physical response to it.  See if you can practice this check-in, without attaching a story to the experience. Experiment with letting go, for the moment, of trying to “make sense” of it or trying find the “why” of the feeling.  Practicing this presence allows you to be mindful and connected with your entire being in a whole new way.

2) Get Curious: Our natural tendency is to label our experience: “good” “bad” “pain” “pleasure” “I like” “I don’t like” …however, this labeling activity takes us to our thinking mind and from there, we often go on automatic, which shuts down the opportunity to explore and tune-in to what’s really going on in the moment.  In simpler terms, our brain kicks in and says, “ouch, I don’t like this feeling” and immediately it sends a signal to the body to block, avoid, deny, and numb. Try to catch yourself in the labeling game and play with remaining a curious explorer of your experience. Noticing the nuances of our physical and emotional experiences, allow for new openings, presence, awareness and ultimately more fulfillment in our lives.

3) Give yourself Permission: You are human, thus you are an emotional being.  See if you can release your judgment about feelings or sensations you are having and let go of what others tell you should or shouldn’t be feeling. These are your feelings and because you are a unique being, no one can know what it’s like to be in your unique body, your unique mind, or your unique life.  Whatever you are feeling is valid and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

4) Welcome the Feelings:  In order to allow the feelings to flow through us, we need to make a conscious decision to be mindful and honest with ourselves.  We have a great opportunity to recognize when we are running away and pause.  Noticing that we are blocking sensation and emotion is step one.  Step two is acknowledging that we are having feelings. Step three, get ready for it…is to thank your mind and body for alerting you to the feelings, whether they are of the “feel-good” variety or not.  Try taking a moment to thank your mind and body for doing its job in protecting you and for providing you with information about yourself that allows you to live a fuller, richer experience of yourself and your life.

5) Know yourself: What helps you to connect?  Yoga? Meditation? Talking with a friend? Writing in your journal? Going for a walk? Drawing? Cooking? Yoga therapy? Listening to music? Getting a massage?  The suggestions I’ve provided are all great, but I also believe that there are many many ways to connect to yourself…and no one way is THE RIGHT WAY.  Your job is to find the way or ways that work for you to take time each day to actively connect to your internal experience.

6) Care for Yourself: Make YOU a priority and block out time for the things that serve you best in attuning to yourself (see #5).  If you aren’t sure what those are, maybe it’s time to consider seeking out the opportunity to explore this further – so you can learn what you need.  An outside perspective (not necessarily advice) can be helpful.  Consider talking to a friend who knows you really well, speaking to a mentor, hiring a life coach, and you already know some of my favorite ways – setting up a counseling session with a licensed professional and/or booking a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy session (even one session yields a lot of new insight and growth).

7) Acknowledge yourself: It takes courage to decide to become attuned to your internal experience and to open yourself up to the unknown.  It takes a great deal of commitment, self-love and self-care.  Acknowledge and affirm yourself each and every time you give yourself this gift.  It’s a loving, caring and honest commitment that will serve you again and again.

Note: It’s less important what you do to connect, than the fact that you are in awareness and receptivity about having your feelings.  Notice when you neglect your emotional experience – what happens to your mood? your attitude? your body? your mind? Then, bring yourself back to mindfulness and awareness.

Good news: This is a practice and, like most things, it gets easier the more you do it!  Also, it can be practiced with joy and excitement, like traveling to a country you’ve never before visited! Enjoy the journey…!