How to feel your feelings
In this post, I explore how to feel your feelings, especially the way you feel about your body.
Specifically, I cover:
- Why avoiding how you feel isn’t healthy
- What it means to feel your feelings
- Why discomfort is part of healing
- A 6 step process to feel your feelings
Listen or read below:
Sitting with your feelings
Only a few years ago I didn’t get what it meant to ‘sit with or feel your feelings’.
I’d heard people talk about sitting with their feelings, but I had no idea HOW to do this.
So, if you feel the same way – I get it! We aren’t taught how to feel feelings. Rather, we’re conditioned to hold them in and not express them.
If you don’t know how to feel your feelings, it may be that like me, you’ve spent years avoiding them!
But working with a psychologist taught me how to feel my feelings – to let them move through me rather than avoid them by keeping busy or analysing how I felt.
Feeling IS healing
If you’ve got any kind of healing to do, whether that’s trauma (little or big), dealing with a loss, or healing the relationship with your body, feeling your feelings is vital.
I’d go as far to say that feeling IS healing. There can’t be any healing without first processing repressed emotions that have been quite literally trapped in your body for so long.
Clients often say to me in sessions, “I said I wouldn’t cry; I don’t know what’s wrong with me” or “I can’t get rid of this sadness…”
There’s this false belief in our ‘quick fix’ culture that you need to be positive all the time to heal your body image. But that’s toxic positivity, or as I call it, toxic body positivity.
Feeling your feelings helps you to process and release.
Trying to deny feelings makes them eat away at you, until you feel worse and worse.
Discomfort is part of feeling
That’s not to say there won’t be discomfort when you feel your feelings, because there will be. BUT this doesn’t last forever.
What most people don’t realise is that the other side of discomfort is where the healing takes place.
Now, while I believe the best way to get in touch with your feelings is to work with a professional, I recognise this isn’t accessible to everyone.
How to feel your feelings
To help you get started with feeling your feelings, I’d like to share a process that helps me sit with what I’m feeling.
You can use this process to help you feel any feelings!
But, if you’re struggling with your body image, I know that when you can sit with feelings about your body, it promotes healing.
So, if you feel able to, give the process I’m about to share a try for yourself, or enlist the support of a friend of trusted family member to be with you while you work through it.
How to feel your feelings – a 6 step process:
Step 1: Settle
Get comfortable, close your eyes if it feels safe to do so, and take a few deep breaths.
Step 2: Focus inwards
Start to notice the sensations in your body. For example, does you chest or throat feel tight, or do you have an uneasy feeling in your tummy. Just notice whatever is there.
Step 3: Notice the emotion
What emotion accompanies the sensation? Don’t worry if it’s not immediately obvious.
Continue to notice the sensations until you get a sense of what’s showing up. Maybe it’s sadness, anger, grief shame.
Be curious about the emotion rather than trying to push it away.
Step 4: Stay with the sensation
Stay with the sensory experience of the emotion if you can rather than judging it or trying to change it. Just observe.
Step 5: Express
If the emotion expresses itself bodily, for example, crying, shaking, rocking, allow it.
This will not hurt you. This is the emotion releasing. Emotions are literally energy in MOTION.
Allow this to continue to its natural conclusion.
Step 6: Notice what happens when you allow yourself to feel
Once the emotion has passed through you, what do you notice? Perhaps the intensity of the emotion has lessened, or you feel a sense of calm or release?
You may also feel quite tired, I often do! Carrying around an emotion for a long time is exhausting!
Feeling your feelings won’t harm you
Remember that feeling your feelings won’t harm you.
It may feel uncomfortable, but there will be relief the other side of the release.
Think about when you have a good cry, perhaps you notice that you feel much calmer, like a weight has been lifted?
Holding onto feelings is more harmful in the long-term.
If you don’t process and release long held emotions about your body, you’ll get stuck in the same old relationship with your body.
You can’t create a healthier relationship with your body until you allow the old conditioning (and the feelings that come with that) to be processed and released.
Healing the relationship with your body isn’t about being positive all the time and denying your feelings. It’s about acknowledging and feeling those big emotions.
If you’re working on your relationship with your body right now, I hope this post has given you some new insights.
I’d love to know if you’re going to give this process a try and feel your feelings. Leave a comment below.