Innovative Lifestyles

How do I "Feel My Feelings?"

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Repressed Emotions, Self-Indulgence & Distractions

Balance. Sometimes even just the act of trying to maintain balance can become one last thing added to the list in a world of overstimulation and overwhelm. Emotions rise up and have their way with us throughout the day and who really has time to stop and deal with that? So we stuff them; or we overindulge them; or overindulge ourselves as a way to find comfort from them.

"I deserve ________ because I’m dealing with ________."

You fill in the blank. We’ve all been there. I’m there right now. I’m drinking coffee even though I’m not supposed to be (for health reasons) because I’m on my own with 3 kids and I’m tired and feel like I can’t keep up. Ok I’m going to go dump out the coffee…

But these are all ways to allow your emotions to end up running the show. When you stuff them they find another outlet, usually through the physical body in manifestations of tension, illness, headaches, anxiety, insomnia, the list goes on. 

When you overindulge them without thought it’s easy to become swallowed up by them. This is when we open the dam and allow ourselves to get completely swallowed up by the torrent. Flooded and buried to the point where you can’t even see straight anymore much less breathe and be able to make sense of what is happening to you. In this place people tend to be very reactive. Instead of processing and responding to situations, a reaction just happens. This is just as unproductive as stuffing them away and silencing them. Any clarity of what you are actually feeling or why you are feeling it is getting swept away in a flood of sadness or anger and often times ends up also manifesting as an overall feeling of anxiety. It’s like being overstimulated, there is just too much going on to be able to process any one thing. 

And let’s not forget overindulgence, where we are spending so much time and effort trying to comfort ourselves. Whether it be with alcohol, food, TV shows, music, COFFEE...you name the distraction, you name the comfort, our society provides a way to overindulge in it. 

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It’s time to take your power back. Maybe you’ve known this for awhile, maybe you are just starting to see it. Maybe you were led to this conclusion because your emotions won’t allow you to ignore them anymore. Or maybe because the power of distraction itself has become overwhelming and you can see the trail of chaos it leaves behind. 

But where do you begin? How do you even begin to sort through everything that is the world of untamed emotions? Why is that really important? Maybe your world of distraction seems to serve you well. The thing is that emotions are messengers, they are the deeper parts of you asking to be seen and trying to send a message. When you choose not to allow that or when you choose not to control that you are denying a piece of who you are it’s moment of existence and giving your power away. You are now opening yourself up to being controlled by your emotions and losing yourself to unhealthy coping mechanisms, bad relationships, addiction, anxiety and depression.  

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like you weren’t really being heard? Where you felt like your presence there wasn’t valued or didn’t matter? Is that how you want to make the deep core parts of who you are feel? Do you think that doing so could possibly have long-standing consequences? I know if I was ignored everyday something would have to change and I would make sure that it did. I would leave (some people feel numb or dead inside) or start pushing back (physical manifestations, anxiety, depression). Part of how we were designed to function was with this need to be seen, heard and known. To have relationship. And to be accepted and loved in that space. We are constantly seeking this in relationships all around us but what about in the relationship with ourselves? 

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Feeling Your Feelings is an Antidote to Anxiety

So back to my question of how do we do this, what are some ways you could find a balance between these common ways of handling emotions? How can you give them their moment but not get swallowed up? 

  • Meditation - when you let your emotions have their moment and share their purpose is when you are often able to finally release whatever it is and let it go by seeing beyond it. It’s kind of like finding closure to an old relationship. Sometimes you just need that last conversation, what happened, why, how? Send forgiveness and grace to that aching space and lay it to rest. Or get outside the situation and see how much more there is beyond that one thing. Starting a practice of meditation can be intimidating but there are some really good apps out there now that really help simplify the learning process. Headspace and Simple habit just to name a few. You could also look up your local yoga studio!
  • Journaling - sometimes writing out how you feel can start to clear the space and help you sort through it. Not sure how you’re feeling or where to start? Try some train of thought journaling. Set a page amount (3 is usually a good goal) and just start writing ANYthing that comes to mind. Don’t worry about it being empty or weird just clear it out. You will be surprised, once you get past the nonsense, the truth that starts to pour out when you just create the opportunity. 
  • Set a timer and breathe through all the overwhelm that is pouring up and out. At the end of the time have a planned activity to move onto. Something that can help you release the energy buildup. Go for a walk, workout etc.
  • Before you do something stop and take a few breaths, ask yourself how you feel about it and why? Can you change it? If not then can you change the way you look at it? 
  • Get to know yourself - this can be done through meditation, journaling or just spending a little more time alone. Or perhaps you already spend time (some times too much time) alone. Take a look at how you spend that time. Are you filling it with distractions and noise? Can you take a moment to step back and just breathe. Let a little silence fill the room and see what comes up for you. Allow it to be uncomfortable. That is the only way it will eventually become comfortable. 
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Just keep in mind that these are starting points and as you go along this journey you will find different things and learn what works for you. There is no perfect formula and that’s part of the grand adventure of it all. It’s really about getting to know and love yourself and giving yourself time and space to be seen and heard. As you do that you will see that the ability to let go of hurts and negative emotions, things that have been tormenting you for so long, strengthens. As those spaces have their moment they can be laid to rest. You CAN find relief and freedom from the ghosts that haunt you. And it CAN sometimes be as simple as seeing that ghost, asking what can you learn from it and saying I see you, I know you, and you’re not wrong for existing I just don’t need you anymore. You are not wrong for feeling what you feel, you are however responsible for what you do with that feeling. It’s up to you what story you want to keep living. 

Photos by Thought Catalog, Gabrielle Henderson

About the Author

Michelle Phinney

Michelle Phinney

After living in Guam for several years with her three young boys, Michelle and her family moved to sunny California with new aspirations. Michelle believes health begins with the food we choose to nourish our bodies with and has had a successful experience treating her own health issues through diet modification and continues to create delicious plant-based, dairy free meals for her and her family. On any day of the week you can find her walking around barefoot in nature, cheering on the sidelines of one of her boys' soccer matches, or teaching people about meditation, breath work, and intentional movement as a certified yoga instructor.

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