Feelings: Our Pathway To Our Human Potential
I believe our feelings are our ONLY pathway to our greater human potential. Let me explain…
Feeling is what humanizes us and makes us humane toward each other. We need to feel in order to adapt. We need to feel in order to be self regulated. When we feel our feelings, we develop emotional awareness, which gives us access to ourselves. Importantly, emotional awareness gives us the ability to prevent reactivity and mental false beliefs that were taught to us by our parents, family, religion and culture. (More on that later.)
You see, bringing our feelings under our conscious awareness is what creates powerful change, and opens a pathway to our greater potential as humans.
Our job as parents is to make it safe for our kids to feel.
We all need to feel–and in order to feel, we must feel safe to let ourselves feel. When it comes to parenting, we need to make it safe for our kids to feel… but usually our own feelings get in the way.
When we punish a child for feeling, we are deciding that only some feelings are “good” and therefore allowed, and other feelings are “bad”. What’s really going on is that our child’s feelings are making us feel uncomfortable, and that’s why we want them to stop, so we punish them.
We need to learn for ourselves, as well as our kids, that all feelings are normal and welcome, not just the pleasant ones. We need to develop emotional awareness and create safe spaces for ourselves and our children to feel.
Here’s what we need to realize about feelings/emotions.
Our journey with feelings begins by understanding that we have a responsibility as humans to feel our feelings. It’s true! Here are some helpful things to realize about feelings so we can take more responsibility for our own:
- We often project our feelings onto other people: We have been conditioned to believe that our unpleasant feelings are caused by others who can make us feel a certain way. When we start to feel negative emotions, we often project them onto someone else. We think that someone else’s words, actions or behaviors made us feel this way. And, since someone else caused it, we think they are responsible for it. We make our feelings their fault.
- We often distract ourselves from our feelings: To push us even further away from feeling our “negative” feelings, we seek to soothe our discomfort. We eat too much, drink too much, withdraw, tantrum, scroll social media, medicate… in essence we numb our feelings by distracting ourselves.
- All feelings emerge from past memories and patterns: When we feel insecure, unworthy and invalid–this is actually rooted in our childhood experiences. The current situation is simply re-triggering these past memories.
- We are the creators of our own feelings: Once we understand that we are the creators of our own feelings, we can take responsibility for them and begin to use our power to choose how we want to respond when they emerge.
Start to identify your feelings
Here's a list to identify specific feelings that arise when our needs are satisfied and when our needs are NOT satisfied. I invite you to use this to become familiar with identifying your feelings.
How to actually FEEL your feelings and process emotions.
Especially when you’re triggered, here's a process you can take to actually feel your feelings and process your emotions. The more you practice, the more the process becomes familiar and intuitive, and the easier it will be to identify and locate your feelings.
- Close your eyes and move your attention inside your body. Internally scan from the top of your head and slowly move down to your feet.
- Notice if you feel a sensation and where it is located (head, neck, shoulders, chest, stomach, lower abdomen, etc.). You may feel more than one sensation.
- Describe the sensation using adjectives (tightness, heavy, squeezing, pressure, twisting, knot, nausea, fullness, etc.). Use colors and/or textures if that is what you observe.
- Remain focused on the space where you feel the sensation. Take deep, slow breaths into the area.
- Allow all feelings to be felt in your body, even though it may be uncomfortable! Say to them, “I allow _____ (adjectives) to be in my body” as you breathe.
- Instead of trying to “get rid of it” or push the feeling away, welcome it into your body more fully. Open to the feeling instead of constricting. Surrender.
- No matter how you feel, what you really are is the space for the feelings, not the feelings themselves. Notice that you are separate from the feelings, and you can watch the area they are located as you breathe.
- As you stay present with the feelings, sometimes emotions will arise. Allow the emotions to flow so they can be released. Cry if tears come.
- The feelings and emotions will slowly dissipate if you stay with them, breathe and know that they are there to be observed and felt.
Feeling is how we heal and transform. Making it safe for our kids to express their big emotions, not reacting to them, instead breathing into our own discomfort, allows our kids to learn to be emotionally aware and healthy in their life.
Feel… it’s necessary.