(Don’t Try to) Feel Better

We want to feel happy and sometimes we do. But we feel many other things, too.  We feel angry, sad, frustrated, overwhelmed, envious or hurt. We may try to distract ourselves with food, alcohol, facebook or sex. We don’t like to be unhappy.

It’s okay, we’re built that way. When we’re uncomfortable, we seek comfort, when we’re hungry we seek food, when we’re cold we seek warmth. We strive to make ourselves more comfortable. It’s in our nature.

We’re uncomfortable with “negative” emotions. Anger, sadness and many other emotions have gotten a bad rap. These feelings are a part of the human experience because they’re important indicators. They signal that something is wrong. Maybe something needs to change, maybe we need to change. Maybe things aren’t going to change and we need to learn a new way of coping.

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What if we could learn to sit with uncomfortable emotions? What if instead of reaching for a cookie or our phones or a drink, we stopped and asked ourselves, what am I feeling right now?  

Rather than trying to make it better by distracting, we could make ourselves available and present when we’re feeling uncomfortable.

We could choose to look for the message in the signal.

It takes some practice. You can learn to sit with your emotions by doing the following:

  • Notice your feelings and emotions. Just check in with yourself. Notice what you’re feeling while driving, or while getting ready for work.
  • Don’t judge. Tune in to the “shoulds” and the “shouldn’ts”. Feelings are neutral, they only become problematic when you act on them.
  •  Recognize the difference between feeling and thinking. You may need to ask a few times to get to the feeling.

When we honor our feelings, we free ourselves from them. We experience them, we value them for the insight they bring, we let them go and we feel better.

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