It takes great courage to explore your most intense and uncomfortable feelings … heartbreak, betrayal, rejection, longing, fear, failure, anger, guilt, shame, resentment....
It is natural to want to avoid pain and discomfort. After all, survival is our most basic instinct. We want to believe there is a way around experiencing pain, that we can avoid grief and disappointment and lose nothing of the joy and fullness of living.
We see our ‘negative’ feelings and thoughts as bad, and begin to judge ourselves as less of a person for feeling them. As a result, we tend to push uncomfortable negative feelings away, tucking them into the secret recesses of our body each time they surface. We tell ourselves that other people’s feelings matter more than our own.
But, self-acceptance means loving ALL of you ... that begins with accepting your negative feelings too...
Negative feelings are not your natural state. They are an important mechanism your mind uses to ensure you recognize your needs and act to get them met. That's why negative feelings such as grief and anger are so intense--to rivet your focus and attention. Without negative feelings, you would not even realize you have unmet needs! So negative feelings are VERY important to ultimately achieving happiness.
When you ignore how you feel, you are teaching yourself to expect little joy in your life, and showing yourself and others that you don’t want or deserve to have your needs met. You begin to settle for less than your soul needs to flourish. You'll lament because people don't understand you, or they reject you, never nurture you, or treat you badly or with no respect. But, it's YOU are invalidating and judging yourself. Others are only a mirror of that self-hatred.
When you disown your feelings for too long and make no effort to get your needs met, you may even shut down completely—unable to feel anything except a dull ache of sadness. That is the state we call ‘depression’.
Emotional pain that is disowned or suppressed begins to solidify into physical pain, inflammation, heart issues, and auto-immune disorders. Oriah Mountain Dreamer writes “A wound not fully felt consumes from the inside. We must run very hard if we want to stay ahead of this pain.”
You can run, but you can’t hide from your feelings. The voice of your pain only becomes louder and more intense as your body begins to express what your thoughts and feelings cannot.
Emotions are meant to be felt deeply, honestly, openly. Feelings are the voice of your deepest needs. There is nothing bad about that.
When openly expressed, an emotion will run through your body and dissipate in about 90 seconds. But, when withheld, censored, suppressed, controlled, rejected, or ignored, the electrical charge of that emotion remains strong, circulating indefinitely in your body, awaiting resolution.
That's what's happening when you can't let go of a feeling. That's why it persists and becomes obsessive. You are invalidating, censoring, or not fully owning your feeling, or you're not paying attention (or understanding) what it is trying to tell you. Or, perhaps someone else is invalidating your feelings, making you feel as though you have no right to feel that way.
You must listen to what your feelings are telling you. Your inner child wants and needs to feel validated and heard. When you don't listen, the volume increases to ensure you pay attention. That's when your body begins to speak through pain and health issues.
When you were a child, how did it feel when your feelings were ignored, invalidated, or unimportant to your parents? How does it feel now when someone invalidates your feelings? It's spirit-crushing, isn't it?
Why, then, do you continue to invalidate your own feelings and crush your own spirit?
What would it feel like to say 'This IS how I feel, and I have a right to feel this way?" How would it feel if your emotions were acknowledged, validated and supported by others? Wouldn't all the pain just melt away within that simple act of self-nurturing acknowledgement? Wouldn't you feel more empowered?
There is freedom in openly expressing your feelings without self-censoring. A giant weight is lifted when you abandon the need to maintain such tight control over your feelings or worry about what someone else might think.
As frightening as it may seem, when you give yourself permission to really feel, your emotions will crest, fall, and abate very quickly, in a healthy natural way. You’ll discover that the tightness, pressure and anguish you feel is actually caused by censoring, controlling, and judging your feelings, not by the feeling itself.
The original meaning of courage was 'to speak one's mind by telling one's heart." ('Cor' is latin for 'heart').
Having courage actually means HONESTY!
Each emotion holds a priceless gift for you in its hands. You may discover there can be a seed of joy within sorrow and pain, when you connect with the need your pain is revealing and take action to get that need met. When you begin to listen to what you FEEL you begin to choose HAPPINESS ... and you also begin to HEAL.
Here is what your feelings are telling you:
Grief or loneliness is the loss of someone to love (not the loss of love itself). Love flows through us and from us--not to us. You don't feel another person's feelings of love. You can only feel your own feelings of love. Grief reveals you have stopped the flow.
You don't honour a person you love by closing down and turning inward. Keep sending your love outward. Don't stop! It's OK to miss someone. It's beautiful, in fact. And it is also OK to love another. It doesn't matter who you love, only that you love. Love yourself, love someone, anyone ... a pet... a friend ... God. Open your heart and give of yourself again. Don't stop the flow.
Anger is the ethical voice of injustice. What has happened that isn't fair or ethical? Do you feel invalidated? Betrayed? Disrespected? Unheard? Misjudged? How can you act to rectify that? How can you take back your power?
Guilt tells you that you have been unfair to someone. Guilt lowers your self esteem and self respect. It creates separation and distance.
Apologize. Be humble and human. Make it right. Believe it or not, your self esteem will actually soar and you will feel more connected to others.
Shame reveals that you feel judged by others. But, often, they are only reflecting your own self-judgment back to you.
Shame can also be felt by victims when the perpetrator feels no shame or remorse. Without an acknowledgement of guilt and remorse by the perpetrator, the victim begins to believe it is their fault, and takes on the burden of blame and shame.
Be kinder to yourself. Wouldn't you be kind and consoling to someone else who felt ashamed or humiliated?
Resentment is felt when you are blaming someone else. But, often you are neglecting to set boundaries or speak up for your boundaries. Own that. Once you accept responsibility, resentment dissolves.
Stress indicates that a problem feels bigger than you. When you make yourself feel bigger than the problem, stress turns into a sense of challenge, which feels exhilarating.
Rejection reveals that you feel you don't belong and are not accepted. Is that because you have not expressed the REAL you or your true feelings? Have you abandoned yourself? Are you acting to gain approval, instead? Isn't that why you really feel insecure and separate? ... because you are afraid you will be found out to be a fraud?
Abandonment creates a fear of being alone, unloved, and unsafe. Fear of any kind reveals you don't feel safe or secure. Safety and security is your #1 need. You'll feel these same emotions when you abandon yourself, or when you feel God has abandoned you. (see Rejection above)
Boredom reveals that you are avoiding personal growth, adventure, risk, creativity, and challenge. Change is the antidote. Do something new. Learn. Try a new food, talk to a stranger, read a book, teach a child, explore the area where you live.... GROW!
Longing reveals that you are missing a sense of fulfillment and purpose. To taste your longing, you must show up fully for your life, without compromise or excuses. Awaken your senses. FEEL! You will risk falling short of your desires. And, you will risk living your desires fully and reclaiming your joy. Follow your longings ... Choose joy.
Recommended reading: The Secret Language of feelings by Calvin D. Banyan
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