Hurt. Anger. Disappointment. Confusion. Betrayal. Sadness. Frustration.
I hate these feelings! Why do they have to hurt so damn much. Why do we have to have them at all?
Why can’t we just experience the good feelings?
Love. Happiness. Excitement. Appreciation. Inspiration. Delight. Gratitude.
I love these feelings! I could feel these feelings all day long!
Last night, I was trying to relax by taking a hot, steamy, bubbly, lavender-infused bath at the end of the evening. I lit a vanilla candle, played soft relaxing music and tried to surrender to the tranquility of the moment.
Did it work? No. It did not.
Almost immediately upon sinking into the tub, those pesky feelings of hurt and anger over an unresolved conflict with a close friend started taking over. Once again, my obsessive thinking about this problem, and all of the negative feelings created by it, were running rampant in my head and in my heart.
Within seconds of being cognizant of the thoughts and feelings, the hurt began to physically manifest in my body. It felt heavy, dark, painful.
This is the point where I had a choice.
Feel the feelings or flee the feelings. Feeling them would hurt. A lot.
Fleeing them would…would what? Push them away temporarily just to have them resurface again later? Maybe stronger? Maybe worse?
Often we choose to turn away from negative feelings. We will do everything humanly possible NOT to feel.
We deny, disassociate and numb out so we don’t have to bear the burden of the pain.
We will do anything not to feel: overwork, overeat, drink too much, binge shop, gamble, etc. But as a Life Coach, here is what I know.
You cannot possibly outrun, outsmart or hide from pain. It will catch up with you.
The harder you try, the stronger it will become. Negative feelings will stay in your body until you release them.
Every action and reaction you have will be affected because they are there – buried, hidden, waiting. And how does it manifest? You may have an underlying sense of discontentment.
Your physical and emotional health may start to falter. Your personal relationships may start to deteriorate.
So, as I lay there in the tub, I consciously chose to lean into my feelings instead of trying to push my pain away. I chose to practice endurance.
I let the discomfort be.
In fact, I went one step further and let the pain grow.
I allowed it to grow bigger and bigger and bigger filling my heart, my chest, my shoulders, my head. Yes, it was extremely unpleasant. Okay, fine. It totally sucked.
But still, I sat there and I felt it. I just kept breathing through it. And guess what? I didn’t die!
The fact is, when you allow yourself to actually feel what you don’t want to feel, the pain typically lasts only a couple of minutes. It’s true!
Many of my clients do not believe me when I tell them this, but when we actually practice it, they see and feel it for themselves. Negative feelings are like a wave that crescendos and then, after about 90 seconds or so, subsides. But only if you are willing to feel it wholeheartedly. Only if you are willing to watch it.
Do not fool yourself into thinking that negative feelings will simply disappear if you reject them. They will not.
Does it take practice? Yes. Pain is hard. But the only way to the other side is through.
Next time a negative feeling comes up, I invite you to lean into, feel it, and let it grow.
Watch what happens.
Watch it move, change, weaken.
Your feelings will not kill you. Nor will they last forever.
They will simply come, stay for a little while and then begin to dissipate.
Your reward for enduring this difficult task? You will feel some relief. More importantly, when you release your negative feelings, you will have created more room in your body and in your life for joy.
Feelings can suck. But they’re called feelings for a reason. Feel them. See what happens.