Feel Your Feelings
Throughout the course of a day, humans have thousands of thoughts and feelings that come and go naturally. However, many of us fail when it comes to being aware of this constant flow of thought; instead, we spend a lot of time in a sort of “auto pilot” mode. Sometimes, we are aware of feelings, but because they are painful or difficult, we ignore, distract from, or otherwise avoid them. And sometimes, the feelings are just too strong to avoid, and we become overwhelmed by them. The good news is that through honest exploration of our thoughts and feelings, we can learn to see them for what they really are, be less afraid and avoidant of them, and prevent them from taking over our actions. Here are four ways to practice allowing ourselves to notice and truly “feel” our feelings.
Meditation – meditation is one way to bring awareness to thoughts and feelings – by noticing our feelings coming and going naturally, they gradually lose their control over us. Dan Harris says that “meditation is not about feeling a certain way. It’s about feeling the way you feel.”
Mindfulness reminders – set reminders on your phone to check in with yourself a couple of times each day. When you are reminded, pay attention to what feelings, thoughts, and sensations you notice. Give yourself permission to feel whatever you notice.
Performing routines with intention instead of on “auto pilot” – choose a specific routine and commit to doing it mindfully. For example, instead of making your morning coffee in a rush while thinking about the tasks of the day, you can commit to paying closer attention to the sensations of filling the pot, grinding the beans, holding the mug, etc.
Journaling or Talking – these are ways to honestly explore the thoughts and feelings that might bother us. By writing or talking with a therapist, we learn to tolerate difficult feelings. We learn to find a peaceful balance between ignoring feelings and becoming overwhelmed by them.