"Feel your feelings." I've seen many catchy tik-toks, cute instagram posts, and well-meaning tweets say this thing, but what does it even mean?
If we tune in, our emotions often have a physical manifestation that shows up in our bodies. Sadness can feel like a dull heaviness in our hips. Anger can feel like a hot intensity coming from the arms and chest. Shame can feel like a heavy rock in our stomachs. Once we identify what is happening in our bodies, we can offer the emotion a name. Naming an emotion is a powerful practice of self-validation- we acknowledge and accept our emotions without judging them or trying to change them. In addition, labeling our emotions is an effective way to reduce stress and anxiety.
A lot of us do not want to feel our feelings. In fact, we will do anything not to. Some emotions can be uncomfortable or unpleasant. So we become skilled at thinking about our feelings and we create mental constructs around emotional experiences to help us make sense of them, rather than actually diving in and feeling. But allowing ourselves to feel what we're feeling, whether it's a more desirable emotion (joy, excitement) or one we prefer to avoid (grief, envy) it is essential to develop emotional flexibility and resilience. Emotions are the locomotive of our lives- when we feel them, we move forward and when we repress them, we get stuck.
So what are you feeling and where are you feeling it today?