04 Jun Marcie’s Mindfulness Moment | Feel the Feels
Have you ever felt so frustrated, sad, hurt, or angry… and you just couldn’t get over it, no matter how hard you tried? You intellectually knew that you “needed” to let something go, yet you just couldn’t? Many of us were taught at a young age to “snap out of it, quit crying, suck it up”; or some other well-intentioned suggestion to not create a scene when experiencing strong feelings. Unknowingly, our guardians and mentors were teaching us how to “stuff” our emotions in an effort for everything to appear ok on the outside. It’s hard to see your children struggle or experience negative feelings, so previous belief was that if we don’t focus on it, change the subject, or convince the child that they were ok then it would go away. Modern parenting methods and psychological studies suggest that we allow ourselves to have these feelings instead of suppressing them- to feel them, identify them, welcome them even, and let them exist. Through this process, we learn what we are experiencing, what it physically feels like, how to identify it, and to actually process the event; making us more equipped to deal with the emotion at the next opportunity. The more we try to make an unpleasant feeling go away, the higher up it floats for us and makes us deal with it!
There are various techniques available to process feelings. Some get relief from a breathing practice, physically releasing tension through various exercise modalities, taking brain breaks, trying to reset your thoughts, mindfulness awareness, setting new intentions, consulting a therapist, and a host of others. Reprogramming our conditioned response takes effort, and even then, it’s easy to fall into old patterns.
One method I’ve found particularly helpful is to provide a safe space to let all feelings out and then role play receiving empathy with a friend. I’ve recently helped a team with an issue that was seriously upsetting, and one of the members responded quickly and suggested they just accept the situation and move on, that life isn’t fair and to keep going. I asked if they would be open to trying a different method; to see what would happen if we let ourselves experience the feelings– and what unfolded was remarkable! We held a space to ponder: What was bothering us? What were we authentically feeling? Could we name it? Did it have a physical impact on our bodies? Then we played a hypothetical game: If there were no consequences, how would we want to deal with it and what did we actually want to say to get resolve; not what we thought was the “right” thing, but our truth. I listened as they let it all out and reflected back for them what I was hearing and offered empathy around their concerns. Despite not interacting with the actual person that was directly involved, this practice actually allows your body to feel the sensation of receiving empathy around the topic and often is enough to help you process the situation and give you space to decide if an actual conversation is necessary. The team found relief in our exercise after their needs of being heard, understood, and validated were met—and then they were ready to move on and keep going!
Try it out and let me know how it goes!
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