Feeling our way through struggles

As follow up to my post earlier in the week, I wanted to develop the 4 step “Recognise, Accept, Feel, Release” concept further.  I know when I have experienced my most difficult times, I haven’t always given myself permission to fully experience the pain. This may appear on the surface a strange idea, but what I have learned is when I have stopped, gone within and felt my feelings rather than deflecting or shielding myself from them, I have had the greatest healing from them. So how do we come out the other side less broken?

The first step is to recognise what we are actually feeling, our feelings come in many colours, but also many shades and depths. Exploring the colour analogy; if we think of primary colours, red, blue, yellow we can equate them to happy sad, mad. We can then go deeper to some secondary colours, orange, green, purple, these can also relate to, joy, disappointment and annoyed, throw in some water and yet get some depth or strength, ie ecstasy or amused! You get the point. (We could also extend and throw in black and white maybe being love or fear and the overarching umbrella’s, but that’s for another post).

So when we feel something, developing our understanding of the true feeling, using the strength of feeling and the language that fits can really help us move to the next step.

Acceptance that we all have a right to our feelings and that no feelings are essentially ‘good’ or ‘bad’, they all serve a purpose. Anger, for example can let us know that someone has crossed a boundary for us. This can often be the first place we can get ourselves off track as we try and deny ourselves the right to what we feel. “I know I probably shouldn’t feel this way…but” or “I know it’s stupid…but” If we can keep an open mind that is curious to our feelings, we move closer to the next step when the work begins.

Feel the feeling, we have so many ways we can use to distract us from sinking in and allowing whatever we are experiencing to wash over us. Whether it’s a wine, drugs, chocolate, shopping or online escapism, we can all have our go-to strategy ready to roll out the moment we begin to feel some discomfort. From my experience, this is where we have the greatest opportunity to do things differently. After a difficult marriage breakdown and what I can now fondly refer to as my “basket case period” had passed, I remember someone very close to me, who had known me for many many years say “ I had never seen you happy, I always thought what I saw, was you being happy, but now I see what it really looks like”. I had become expert at hiding, pushing down and denying what was really going on for me, I was also really confused. Whilst it allowed me to put one foot in front of the other on a daily basis, it also kept me stuck in a toxic situation because I wouldn’t let it to all come to the surface. Not feeling, kept me trapped. Many people do this because they fear that if they let the floodgates open, they may never be able to close them, but the reverse is mostly true.  When we allow the feels to be felt, they will pass more quickly, while we deny them they hang around weighing us down either permeating our very being, or finding cracks to explode through at any opportunity. This was me, publicly having it all together, calm and “happy” in private I had a short fuse and then I would go into a shame spiral for letting my temper show, so would need to quickly shut it down. (when I read this to my teenage daughter, she said “yeah, you used to yell at us a lot!”)

If I had known that these releasing moments were actually part of my healing process, I might have found some peace earlier.

The final step is releasing, but we need to find healthy ways to do that. When we are clear on what we are actually feeling, in all its shade and depth, it becomes easier to find a way through. I was acting mad, but really I was hurt, sad and lonely. By recognising the difference my response become helpful not harmful and I didn’t “share” my unhappiness all over those I loved. I was able to let go and move forward rather than yelling and hanging on. I changed things, took action and in time healed. For me this meant letting go of a marriage, growing my circle of friends, exercising and meditating.

Fast forward to today and I now use a curious mind and take a third person perspective, when I feel triggered I think to myself, “Hmm, that’s interesting, I wonder what’s this is about?”. I then give myself time and space to explore.  Sometimes I will talk through with a trusted friend, but mostly now, I am able to take time to check in with myself, (going quite is often when we hear the answers) give some language to my feelings, gift myself the room to feel it and trust that by doing all that, “this too shall pass”.  That might look like I cocoon for a few days, take a bath, walk, journal and my favourite is a regular yoga practice. I am gentle and compassionate with myself, so I can be gentle and compassionate with those I love, my yelling days are long gone! #kidsaregrateful

If you are unsure what a spectrum of feelings might look like, send me a message and I will send you a great graphic to help.

If you are enjoying my latest blog posts, keep following as I have some exciting news coming very soon!