Feeling those feelings that we’ll do anything to avoid

photography credit: livluvcreate.com
photography credit: livluvcreate.com

‘That’s the thing about pain … it demands to be felt.’

– The Fault in our Stars

Our emotional pain demands to be felt no matter how much we wish that weren’t the case. How much we wish we could skip right ahead to that bit where we can look back with relief knowing that the worst is behind us. No matter how much we think we ‘shouldn’t be feeling like this’ or ‘should stop being so ridiculous’ or wish we could ‘just pull ourselves together’.

Most of us will have an emotion that we have difficultly letting ourselves feel. We just won’t let ourselves go there.

For some of us, it’s sadness/grief. The thought of wasting energy feeling sad is unacceptable to us and we judge it to be ridiculous or disproportionate or useless.

For others, and many women in particular, it’s anger that we feel uncomfortable experiencing. We subconsciously receive messages from a young age that good girls don’t get angry and that our anger is unwanted and unhelpful. So we often can’t bear the possibility that we’re actually pretty angry about that situation with our ex or our boss, particularly where our mind tells us it’s unreasonable to feel like that.

So we deny, judge and beat ourselves up for feeling how we feel and do anything to avoid staying with the emotion – we distract ourselves with work, we numb out with alcohol or food and we stuff those feelings deep inside of us.

Unfortunately, denying our pain is only ever a short-term strategy because pain always finds a way to be felt. And if we don’t allow it out, it buries in us and eventually expresses in ways we wouldn’t expect nor choose, like toxic resentment, illness or ongoing anxiety.

A little while ago after a relationship ended, I needed a way to channel that resentment-that-I-really-didn’t-want-to-admit-I-had-but-was-actually-eating-me-up (because, you know, nice girls like me don’t get angry over break ups). I ended up taking up boxing with a personal trainer. Having this regular outlet for release was incredibly powerful and healing. Other outlets might be shouting into or punching a pillow or capturing free-flowing thoughts in a journal. This can be directed at noone or someone or everyone. This might sound ridiculous as you read it, but if you’re anything like me and my clients, you’ll feel silly and reluctant for the first minute and then surprised by what flows out of you.

It’s all about permission and release. Giving yourself full permission to feel the way that you feel and allowing it to be released in a healthy and safe way. So that it’s out of you and not being stuffed down and stored deep within you to fester away.

Sometimes it’s scary to open the well of emotion within us because we don’t know where the end is. We think if we open that door we’ll be flooded and never wade through. But actually emotions move through us with surprising ease if we allow them. It’s when we judge or constrict or stuff them down that they become heavy weights within us. Without the judgment attached, they’re fluid energy passing through.

Check in with your body today. What’s inside you wanting to be expressed?

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