How To 'Feel Your Feelings' In 8 Steps
Therapists are known to say: Feel your feelings. But what does that even mean?
As humans we tend to avoid, numb, and distract ourselves from uncomfortable feelings and we prefer to seek out pleasurable ones. In theory this helps us stay safe and alive but in order to live a full and meaningful life we need to learn how to experience all emotions, not just the ‘good’ ones.
The more we resist the uncomfortable emotions, the more they tend to persist and create even more problems in our lives. Have you ever heard the saying “hurt people, hurt people”? The way out of these feelings is through them (ie. FEEL them). Becoming attuned to and welcoming our emotions can help us navigate and build a life we want to live.
Vibrations in the body.
Energy in motion (e-motion).
Temporary. They WILL pass.
Alerting us to pay attention to something important.
Neither good nor bad. They just are.
Signals letting us know we may need to take action, speak up, or do something different.
Not going to hurt us but our reaction to them could.
How to feel a feeling:
1. Notice the sensation in your body and identify the emotion(s) coming up.
Observe it nonjudgmentally. Allow it to be there.
2. How would you describe it?
Where do you feel it in your body?
What’s the temperature?
What’s the texture? Is it sharp?
Is it still? Moving? How fast?
What color is it?
Is it light? Heavy?
3. Validate the emotion:
“It’s ok to feel this way.”
“It’s understandable why I would feel this way”.
“Many people in my position would feel this way.”
If it’s difficult to tap into self compassion and validating your emotions, imagine a loved one going through a similar situation. What would you say to them? How would you extend kindness and understanding to them?
4. Breathe, make room for the emotion. Control your breathing, not your feelings.
Take a deep, cleansing breath in
Image you have a balloon in your stomach. As you breath in, the balloon expands.
Notice how your stomach extends further out than your chest as you breathe.
Breathe in relaxation, breathe out tension.
Breathe in to the count of 4, breathe out to the count of 4, slowing the breath is relaxing.
5. Calming self-talk
I am feeling _____ right now and that’s ok, I can handle this.
This feeling will pass.
I can handle any emotion that comes my way, it will not hurt me.
Right now I am ok, right now I am safe.
6. Get curious
What is this emotion trying to communicate to me?
What should I do with this information?
What are my values and how can I align my response with what’s most important to me?
7. If you’re flooded by emotions use a grounding technique to bring you to the present:
Look around you and identify:
5 things you see
4 things you feel
3 things you hear
2 things you smell
1 thing you taste (or pop in a piece of gum or something flavorful)
8. Reach out to your support system.
Consider 3 people you can reach out to when difficult emotions arise.
Preferably people who will listen, offer kindness, understanding, and compassion.
If this is unrealistic, try journaling and consider reaching out to a therapist to begin developing a support system.