Is it OK to feel our feelings? How do we:
• Deal easily with all emotions – no judgment
• Catch the strategies we use to hide things and end hurting ourselves or others
• Change the things we want to
The real problem is that we have been programmed throughout our lives that some feelings are good and some are bad. The bad ones must not be expressed, they must be stopped or fixed!! – e.g. STOP crying when you are sad. So we learn its not OK to be sad.
When someone asks us how we are we say FINE (Fragile, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional), when in some cases we are not “fine”, we are feeling bad, sad or mad! So we are taught not to express our feelings and instead adopt various coping strategies in an attempt to avoid feeling the way we feel. We distract ourselves with mind numbing activities: e.g. excessive use of substances, TV, over-work, gambling to name a few. These activities get in the way of us reaching our potential.
In some cases this can be a natural process, like putting your hand on a hot plate and learning that it burns. We feel emotional distress or pain, we avoid dealing with it and this becomes a habit of ‘not feeling’. Emotional pain cannot resolve itself until we face it and acclimatise to it. When we avoid emotional pain, it can make us feel very stuck. This is sometimes described as depression.
Does this sound familiar? What if there was nothing wrong with your feelings – ever? No matter what you are feeling, what if you didn’t fix it, try to change it, avoid it? What if you just let it be? How would that change things for you?
Games we play to avoid our feelings: Blame/projection: Rather than feeling anger, we will blame a person, object, situation that triggered the anger.
Shut down, or put it to sleep: overwhelming feelings eg. Grief, ang
er, terror, instead of feeling the feeling we use all our energy to keep it under control.
Cover it up, burying feelings: e.g. we can use anger to deal with a ALL feelings, or pretend to be ‘nice’ to cover it up.
Run away: work to hard and being ‘always busy’, keep moving from place to place, not stopping to reflect on achievements. Dramatize or tell “poor me” stories: Talk about what happened rather than how it makes us feel. Get stuck on the “not fair” or “too hard” stories i.e. make excuses!! Its always someone else’s fault!
Hyping up our identity: lower our sense of effectiveness, undermine our confidence, seeing others as better than ourselves, losing our sense of individuality and identity. We can get lost in our masks.
Hide from the world: Zoning out with time wasting activities and I “can’t” stories, e.g. gaming, TV, surfing the web.
Bully, boss or try to take control: Not cutting ourselves or others slack. Unrelenting standards.
Trying to be perfect: people pleasing habits and undermining our achievements even when we have done a good job – re-enforcing a “failure” story instead.
We need to know our game and then we can choose to play the game of life and learn to be our authentic selves or we can allow our game to play us, however we always have a choice.
How to explore:
On one side of a sheet of paper identify the game and ask the following questions:
Which of these games have I been playing? Write them down.
How do I play them?
What else have I done to avoid feeling “bad” or uncomfortable feelings? What games/strategies do I use with my friends and family to avoid feeling my feelings?
What does this cost me?
How does this limit me?
How has this affected mine and others lives?
What does it feel like to be stuck in these games? (Write down feeling words)
What meaning do I get out of these actions?
How does this really make me feel? (Allow yourself to feel these feelings, let it be, be honest with yourself).
Now that we have explored and identified our games, want to try something different? Lets try admitting the feeling when it comes up.
If an incident occurs, we can say to ourselves or on a piece of paper: When this happens (name the incident without using the “you” word), I feel like …… and name the feelings.
We need to use language that does not name, shame or blame others and see what happens.
Click here to read more: Feeling Words