Feel The Feelings Anyway
There is a popular book of “Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway.” It is a good book. I’d like to take that even further into feelings. So many of us are afraid to feel our feelings. Somewhere in our lives, we’ve been taught to fear our feelings and to avoid them at all costs. Thus, the escape of emotional eating and turning to food to calm and numb our feelings has worked for us….in the past. That strategy has long past served its usefulness as obvious by our desire to lose weight either through surgery or through our own program.
When we live our lives stuffing our feelings for years, we adopt unhealthy habits to suppress and manage our feelings and emotions. We get into crazy behaviors such as turning to food, alcohol, drugs or other maladaptive coping strategies. There are also extremes such as thinking that we have to “fix” our feelings before we can do anything effectively. Or, we take feelings into consideration in making all of our decisions.
Feelings are feelings. They come and go. Yes, they are to be paid attention to but not dwell on. Feelings are not who we are. There are a barometer of what is going on inside us that we need to pay attention to but not hang on. We don’t have to fix our feelings. We can feel our feelings, celebrate being in touch with that inner part of us and know that most feelings are likely going to change soon. Feelings are not facts and not who we are. Feelings seem to be beyond our direct control and we become afraid of them. We have a sense that they will last forever and possibly break us. Not true. By feeling our feelings, we become stronger and more in touch with who we are and the right thing to do in a situation or decision.
Feelings are as unpredictable and unstable as the weather. Feelings can be totally unrelated to external circumstances. People can have thousands or millions of dollars in their bank account and still feel poor. The fact is that these people are financially rich but emotionally poor in their lives for some reason. People can have a stack of invitations to events and functions but still feel lonely.
Actions are much different than feelings. While feelings are not in our direct control, we can take full responsibility for our actions. We can feel sad or even depressed and still choose to take care of household chores, the children, our job or other daily responsibilities. We can feel tired or lazy and choose to mow the lawn. We can feel fear and still do it anyway as Eleanor Roosevelt so insightfully quoted. The ability to act regardless of our feelings means we don’t have to be controlled or pushed around by them as a victim of them.
We can fully experience our feelings, know all the details about them, have insights into ourselves and even celebrate the ability to feel them. However, we don’t have to obey the pushes and pull of our feelings all the time. The saying of “Sleeping on it” is a way to acknowledge that we are feeling a certain emotion yet allowing time to flesh the reality between the feeling.
What is so amazing about being able to act independently of our feelings is that we already have the ability right now. There isn’t anything we have to learn, run away from, no need to take a class or read a book to learn this skill. We don’t have to drink, eat, or self-medicate ourselves to numb the feelings that are natural to our lives and existence. All that we have to do is use the skill we already have and apply it to more situations in our lives.
Think of this – feelings are signals, barometers to our inner lives. Consider this – fear can be used as a tool for your existence. When we feel fear, we can become cautious. Rather than take a particular action that we feel fear over, we use more caution and prevent a dangerous or harmful situation from occurring. On the flip side, we can use fear to our advantage. When I was taking flying lessons, I felt intense fear as I walked up to the airplane to solo. When I pushed through that fear and flew a cross-country flight by myself, I felt awesome and my confidence level shot up to the sky! If I’d given into the fear, I would never have achieved my goal of being a licensed pilot. That fear would have owned me and held me back in that situation and others in my life. The lesson is that we have the ability to choose to act independently of our feelings.
Instead of running away from our feelings by denying them or suppressing them through unhealthy means such as emotionally overeating, experience them fully. Know that they are temporary and provide valuable insights into the real you. Just like it rains and the next day has bright sunshine – so are feelings. Sit with your feelings. The more you do that the more they don’t own you and you don’t run away from them.
Your feelings are a gift into your soul. They are yours for the owning and experiencing and letting go. Love all aspects of you including your feelings.
Believe In Yourself,
Certified Life Coach, Weight Loss Surgery Coach
Certified Back On Track Facilitator