Zoom Out, Don’t Numb Out
As a society, we don’t know how to feel.
I know that’s a bold statement for me to make right off the bat. But everywhere I look, it hits me over the head.
There are all sorts of flavors of emotional dysfunction floating around:
When it comes to feeling our feelings, it can be a rather uncomfortable business, particularly since we have been raised in a society that tells us that they make us weak, unprofessional, or undesireable to be around.
And also, it can be painful. And we would literally rather eat a whole box of donuts and binge-watch Netflix for hours on end than open up the Pandora’s box of pain, amIright?
But our emotions are actually a gift. They are a tool that we are born with that we get to use to help us connect more deeply with ourselves, learn about our needs, heal our wounds, and make decisions that will align us with our highest path.
The information that ALL emotions give us—including our pain—is invaluable.
So how do we access that information and allow ourselves to feel without sliding into a vortex of doom and gloom?
A practice of non-resistance and observation.
Practicing non-resistance means being in full allowance of whatever comes up and through. It requires that you intentionally carve out the time and space to be with your emotions and to create habits and rituals that help you move through them.
It isn’t an excuse to blow up at your boss and call her all the names that you have been mulling over for months.
But it does mean not shaming yourself for what you feel or shutting your emotion down. Find safe avenues to express them (in a journal or to a close friend, for instance), and let yourself be really honest about them, free of judgement.
If you aren’t used to practicing non-resistance, it can feel scary at the beginning. And the first few times the emotions might feel intense, but that is only because you have been bottling them up for so long. The more you practice it, the easier and less intense it will be. The more you resist it, the more debilitating and persistent the emotions will become.
(And if you are terrified of allowing yourself to feel because you are afraid of getting stuck in an emotion, I got you. Check out this blog post.)
Observation is a practice of zooming out, untangling ourselves from all the stories we are telling ourselves about the emotion and what we are making it mean about ourselves (I am a failure! My boyfriend is going to leave me because I am too intense! I just lost the respect of all my coworkers for crying at work!) and allowing ourselves to get curious about it.
From a space of observation we can ask questions like: “What is being triggered in me?” “Do I need to take an action? Set a boundary? Have a conversation?” “How can I love myself more through this?”
When we are getting curious and asking questions about the emotion, we glean answers that allow us take action, whether it means working on healing from an experience or memory, making changes in our relationships, setting new boundaries, improving our communication, creating new self-care practices, etc.
Observation is most effective in conjunction with non-resistance, not separate from it. In other words, getting curious and looking for the lesson is not a replacement for feeling.
In fact, if you don’t allow yourself to actually feel and experience the emotion and jump straight to observation, you are actually promoting more disconnection because you are avoiding, numbing, or shaming it by looking for a silver lining without honoring what is present.
Here are a few ways that you can tell if you are practicing observation, or if you are in avoidance:
Your emotions can be a gateway to your personal power if you cultivate a new relationship to them. Remember that you are merely a vessel for them, and there is never a reason to judge, shame, or guilt yourself for having them. Emotions are not a sign of weakness, but of humanness! They are excellent signposts for decision-making and the lessons that we need to learn.
If you love the idea of this, but the implementation of it all feels overwhelming, book in a free possibility call and we can talk about how to integrate these practices into your life!
If you are suffering from trauma, or feel like you may harm yourself in any way, seek support in the form of a therapist or counselor. You can always reach out to me and I can help connect you to a loving professional. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255