Before you read this, ask yourself: How do you deal with trauma? When things aren’t going the way you planned, how do you cope with it?
Life is beautiful. There’s so much to see, so much to experience, so many people to meet that will change your life and shape who you are. I often wake up and look out my window in disbelief that I get to live on this planet and choose what my life is going to look like. It’s all about perspective, ya know?
When I take a moment to stop, revisit my gratitude, and focus on the things that make life worth living, I feel so humbled. I feel amazing. That being said, like anyone else who lives an ordinary life, though, I work. I workout. I pay bills. I cook, clean, visit with friends. I travel. When you get caught up in the day to day and you get into a routine, it becomes easy to turn on auto piolet and cruise along for the ride. So, what happens when the autopilot is on and tragedy strikes?
Feeling your feelings and dealing with emotions can be difficult. This is why people do things to “not feel,” like use drugs, shut down, disappear, etc. Obviously, everyone deals with stress, sadness, and hardships differently. Recently I’ve noticed this more than ever. Sometimes you forget that people are different than you—I know I definitely have forgotten this and still struggle with understanding it. Through friendships, work, and relationships, I’m still learning.
After reflecting on the last six months of my life and taking a hard look at where I am today, I’ve realized something that, in my opinion, is extremely important for personal growth: Feeling your feelings is a good thing.
Take a moment to think about the people in your life. How do they deal with trauma? In my experience, some people yell. Some people cry. Some people talk it out, bottle it up inside, ignore it all, run away, whatever. Something I’ve learned, though, is that there is a difference between acknowledging the presence of your emotions, rather than letting them run your life and fuel your choices.
Here’s a personal example: This year, I was laid off. In that moment and moments after, I felt sad, hurt, and stressed. When I felt sad, I cried or talked about it with my friends and family. When I felt angry, I did the same. However, once those emotions passed, I had to step outside of myself and make sure I was using those moments to move forward and heal, rather than drag me down and hurt me further. On the days when I let them get the best of me, I wouldn’t be productive and I’d feel like shit about everything. That’s no way to live!
On the other side of things, though, sometimes, I wouldn’t feel anything. I’d start to feel upset, and then I’d stop myself because I wanted to keep my pride. “I won’t let a job and a company that wasn’t meant for me dictate my mood or ruin my day,” I’d think to myself. Or, I would be scared of feeling pain, because let’s be real…no one wants to hurt inside. It’s scary. You feel vulnerable. Well, guess what happened when I didn’t feel pain? I felt it even more later on. It would all come back full circle, and I would have LEGIT meltdowns.
Here’s my point with all of this: In the moments where I felt my feelings, I was able to use my emotions as a tool and look inward to aid my healing process. In the moments where I wouldn’t allow myself to do so, everything would bottle up inside of me. It never “went away” until I released it into the universe.
As my mother always says, our emotions are like a compass. They are here to guide you. They are your friend. Sometimes, we let our brains (or the more logical side of ourselves), overthrow our feelings. Should you go rogue and make every decision based on emotions and nothing more? No. But, if your compass told you to turn North, would you go South? Probbbabbbllyyy not. So, I say, use them to get you on a path that feels right. Then, that’s when the logic comes in. This way, you, your emotions, and your logic are a team. You’re not working against each other. Your emotions are here to HELP YOU, not hurt you. They don’t define you. They don’t make you weak. They are meant to be felt and then released.
If you’re dealing with some BS that doesn’t serve you, it’s okay, you’re not alone. Like I said earlier, feeling your emotions can be scary. Here are a few functional ways I’ve learned to do so that have worked for me, step-by-step.
How to heal by using your feelings
- Acknowledge them. The emotions you are feeling are there, and they’re real A F. They’re not going anywhere until you do something about it.
- So, FEEL THEM. Cry, run, scream, call a friend and talk it out, whatever. Just be sure to do something…don’t run away.
- Accept them. How do we move on from something that doesn’t make sense to us? Or, how do we make sense of something that literally doesn’t make sense? We accept it. We don’t have to agree with it, praise it, or love it, but to TRULY heal, we do have to accept it. HARD, I know, but so crucial for moving forward.
- Set them free. Imagine yourself tossing the sadness, despair, or betrayal into the air. And then, like a balloon, they just float into the sky, until they are eventually out of sight. By this point of the healing process, you’ve already felt these emotions and used them as a tool. You don’t need them anymore, so, set them free.
- Be patient. You may only have to go through this process once. Or, you may have to go through it every day for months. Whatever your healing process looks like, just remember to be patient with yourself. Everyone is different, but as long as you are feeling your feelings, time, patience, and love (from yourself and others) will take care of the rest.
In good health,