Feelings can be so darn tricky.
Not too long ago, I had a fairly big decision to make.
You know the kind.
Full of “this could be really cool” possibilities.
Laced with a plethora of unknowns.
One of those times where if I went for it, it could bring new opportunities, connections, relationships, and money.
But, if it didn’t work out, it could cost me some of the above.
While the details of the decision are irrelevant, the process of making the decision was pretty Illuminating.
I noticed every time I thought about the decision (even for a fleeting second) I felt wildly uncomfortable.
So, I did what I always do when I feel uncomfortable.
I started doing stuff.
I got busy.
You know, spinning my wheels, being distracted, scanning my surroundings for other things to worry about or feel important through.
I remembered how I’m always telling my clients to
p a u s e
s l o w d o w n
when they feel uncomfortable.
I encourage them to examine the feelings that are making them feel uncomfortable.
I hate it when I have to take my own advice.
Turns out I was feeling fear.
I often get scared when I try things that are new or where the outcome is unknown.
I was also feeling frustration, mostly with myself, for feeling the fear.
In the old days, I would’ve tried to talk myself out of feeling those feelings. I’d have come up with a logical reason why I shouldn’t be feeling what I’m feeling.
While I know it’s extremely useful to notice my unhelpful thoughts, skipping over the step of actually feeling my feelings doesn’t work.
So, I sat there and let myself physically feel the sensation of the fear.
It’s not the most comfortable thing in the world.
But, I know from practicing this more and more–when I sit with the actual physical sensation of my emotion for a little while— let my mind get quiet and actually feel the feeling, it usually moves through me.
Sometimes it needs to get bigger.
So, the sensation of the emotion grows while I sit with it.
Again, not the most pleasant experience.
But, almost always, in less than a couple of minutes (research says it takes about 90 seconds)*, the feeling dissipates.
And, what’s behind it is usually calmer.
Very often, there’s clarity.
A boundary that felt soft and muddy becomes more solid.
An annoying situation feels less frustrating.
A daunting decision feels more doable.
After I let myself really feel the fear about that upcoming decision, the confusion dissolved.
I decided to go for it.
In retrospect, it was a darn good choice.
Bottom line when it comes to your feelings:
1) When you notice yourself feeling constricted stressed or spinning, pause and see if you can identify the emotion you’re feeling. Give yourself just a minute or two of sitting with the physical sensation of the feeling. Watch it like you’re watching a movie inside of yourself. Feel it like you’re checking in with your body to see if you’re hot or cold.
2) Don’t judge or let a running commentary loose on the situation. Quiet your mind and just feel. Compassionately observe. Leave your inner critic out of the equation.
3) Notice what shows up on the other side of the feeling. Is it another feeling? Is it a lot of stories or about why you should hold onto that unpleasant feeling?
If so, consider whether a new script, or a new thought will be more helpful. For instance instead of, “this thing I’m thinking about doing may fail.” When I chose the thought, “I’m not sure how this is going to turn out and I’m curious to see what I learn from the experience,” I felt relieved, motivated, and curious. And I know from experience that following my curiosity is one of my superpowers.
THIS IS IMPORTANT! (I’m not shouting at you. Just grabbing your attention).
4) Give yourself a chance to FEEL your feelings before you ACT on your feelings. This is a biggie. We are so used to acting from our intense emotions. Or, trying to stuff them down and ignore that they’re still there influencing us. Wait until you’ve felt the feeling and let it move through you before you have big conversations or take big actions. Trust me on this. I’ve learned this the hard way. A lot.
Feel it, my friends.
You got this.