Sometimes I try to tell myself that my feelings aren’t real.
That if I just do x, y, and z, they will go away. I often think of sadness, hurt, or pain as something that is made up in my head and needs to leave, immediately. Like an unwanted guest.
There is a reason we have emotions. Our emotions are there to communicate something to us or to someone else. Our emotions are there to motivate us to act. When you experience fear, anger, or happiness there is a corresponding physiological response that occurs in your body. This is what leads me to believe that my feelings are real. Sometimes my thoughts influence my emotions. And often times, I have a lot of thoughts or beliefs about my emotions. (I’m not allowed to be sad. If I’m sad around people it will bring them down. My feelings are a burden to other people.) But my feelings are not the problem.
Growing up, I felt like my feelings were a liability. If I felt hurt or upset by how someone behaved, I thought that my emotions were the problem, not their behavior. But I’m learning that my feelings are not wrong. They just are. And sometimes they are there to tell me something. If I never felt hurt by other people – I may never learn to set boundaries. I might let people walk all over me. Etc.
I often want to “fix” my feelings.
Last week I was feeling really sad. I felt tired, drained, like there was a grey cloud over my head. I didn’t want to interact with people. I tried really hard to fix this feeling. I tried running. I tried meetings. I tried being of service. I prayed. I went to church. I talked to friends. I practiced gratitude. I did all the things I’m supposed to do to feel good, right?! Cmon peace and serenity! Where are you?!
It wasn’t until someone gave me permission to just allow my feelings to exist that I found some peace.
I called my sponsor to ask for help. I wanted her to give me specific directions about how to make the depressive fog go away. I wanted her to tell me that if I do x, y, and z, I will feel better. But she didn’t do that. She told me that it was okay to have these feelings. That there wasn’t anything WRONG with me. That I should be gentle with myself. At first, I felt really irritated by this response. Because it feels better to have some concrete action to take than it does to just sit and let your feelings happen (scary!!!).
I took her advice. What did I have to lose? I let myself cry. I allowed myself to feel. I gave myself permission to lay around and not be busy. I just let the feelings come. When I gave myself permission to just let myself have the feelings, they seemed to take care of themselves. The next day, I felt a little bit better. And the day after that even better.
When I am in that dark funk, it’s easy to feel like “this is never going to go away”. But something I know for certain is that feelings come and go. You will not feel the way you feel right now forever. Sooner or later, your emotions will shift and you will experience a different emotion.
This isn’t one of those lessons that I learn and then put into action everyday. I have to remind myself of this lesson time and time again. Because accepting my emotions exactly as they are IS FUCKING HARD. And it’s uncomfortable. And I don’t like feeling uncomfortable.
What would happen if you gave yourself permission to just have your feelings and not try to FIX them?