I am a huge proponent of feeling your feelings.
We are a society who numbs.
Instead of our feeling our feelings, we do everything in our power to avoid going directly through our pain.
We self-medicate with being “sooo busy”. We self-medicate with distractions. We self-medicate with drinking, drugs, sex, porn, shopping, Facebook, and perfectionism.
I’ve written before about how when you avoid feeling your feelings, your emotions go down to the basement to lift weights (and come back up stronger than ever at a later point). One way or another, your emotions demand to be felt. And when you don’t feel them, they can turn into chronic tension in your body (eye twitch, muscle spasms, injuries, illness, etc.).
While facing your demons head on and fully experiencing your emotions is massively beneficial, there also comes a time when feeling your feelings starts losing it’s efficacy, and even becomes harmful.
So today, I’m going to talk to you about that transition, when feeling your feelings becomes damaging, and what you can do about it instead.
You Feel It To Heal It, Until It Starts Hurting You
I want to make it clear that I think working through your pain with an inside-out approach is absolutely vital. In no way am I saying that feeling your feelings isn’t a necessary stage to go through. It absolutely is. It just has a law of diminishing returns and it overstays it’s welcome at a certain point.
If you go through a challenging breakup, it’s appropriate to cry, be sad, be angry, feel hopeless… feel all of the feelings that you have available to you to be felt. But staring at photos of them every day for a year to reeaaaally dig out all of your emotional residue isn’t going to help you. At a certain point, it will become harmful. You’ll just be re-traumatizing yourself and not allowing your mind/heart to move on.
If someone you love dies unexpectedly, it’s appropriate to mourn the loss of them. But sitting in front of your shrine that you constructed for them every day for years on end, might not serve you in the long-term.
If you were abandoned/abused/hurt/traumatized in your childhood and the wounds have stayed with you to this day, it is absolutely essential that you face the truth of what happened, and feel some of your unfelt feelings that your inner child didn’t have the permission or space to feel when it happened. But rehashing those old emotional wounds in therapy for ten years may become damaging after the first couples of months/years.
At a certain point, feeling your feelings can become damaging. Because, as humans, we can self-reflect and rehash our stories for eternity. There is no limit to the psychological and emotional digging that we can do. And obsessing over digging out all of your emotional residue can be the thing that’s keeping you stuck more than the original event (or the story that you have around it) itself.
So… what do you do instead when you’ve hit the wall where feeling your feelings becomes less productive?
You take a more behavioural approach.
Why Your Actions Matter More Than You Think
After you’ve dug into your emotions and done some good, honest healing work, your actions start to matter more than your ability to process your feelings away.
If you’ve been trying to get over your ex for years, then it might not actually be about your ex anymore. It might be about your feelings of unworthiness. You might fear that you’ll never be able to find anyone else as amazing as them and, as a result, you’d start to feel hopeless. What would you do in the case? You would start doing esteemable actions that would make you feel increasingly worthy of an amazing partner, while simultaneously (because of your efforts) starting to attract more high quality, highly aligned people into your life.
If you’ve been trying to get over a friend/family member/loved one who died and it’s been years of constant suffering, maybe it’s worth digging into what specific thing you’re still ruminating on. Is it the fact that you wish you had told them you loved them more? Then start telling your existing/remaining/present day friends and family members how much you love them. Did you love how they helped you bring out your adventurous side and your life feels flat without them? Then start becoming more adventurous and creating your own new adventures. Truly, what better way to honour your memories of the deceased than by fully embodying the lessons that they left you with?
If you were abandoned/abused/hurt/traumatized in your early childhood (let’s get real, who wasn’t in some way) then it’s one thing to sit in a therapy office for a decade and tell the story over and over. It’s a whole other thing to embody the part of you that felt stifled and act in a way that begins to prove that core fear/belief wrong.
Did you resent how poor you were growing up, and now, in your adult life, you have a ton of money but are terrified of spending it or buying yourself anything nice? Guess what? It’s time to buy yourself something nice and start enjoying some of your money.
Are you afraid that people will never be there for you because you have massive feelings of isolation and rejection from your childhood? It’s time to start letting people be there for you. Start trusting again. Start leaning on people and letting them support you.
Did you feel unlovable and unworthy within your family and you find it difficult to believe that anyone in your adult life actually loves you? Start gathering evidence of all of the ways that people share their love with you, on a daily basis. Ask people directly how and why they love you. Allow yourself to be loved by the people who are already trying to love you. Start building a mountain of evidence that yes, of course you are absolutely, deeply loved beyond measure.
Were you hurt badly in one or several of your first romantic relationships and now you fear that you just aren’t cut out for relationships? Time to get back on the saddle partner. Start dating again. Start proving your fears wrong by becoming a person who dates. It’s one thing to recite affirmations in the mirror every morning to ‘train’ your subconscious into believing that you’re loveable and worthy of love… and it’s a whole other thing to just start proving all of those messy, old beliefs wrong by doing the thing that you’re afraid of.
At a certain point in time, you have to start taking confident steps in the direction of your fears. You have to employ courage. And for every unit of courage that you deploy in your life, you will get an equal amount of confidence and self-assuredness in return.
Your actions heal your wounds just as much as feeling your feelings does, if not more so.
Not sure what actions you need to start taking in order to heal your deepest emotional wounds? Let’s talk.
Dedicated to your success,