When you allow yourself to feel, you allow yourself to heal…
Many of us experience a situation like the loss of a friend or rejection of a lover and feel pain in our hearts. Panic sets in as we fear the painful feeling and what it might mean to our life. Soon, we begin to judge ourselves for feeling pain too much or too long, or not grieving the “right” way. To make matters worse, we feel shame and self blame, and this has us isolate ourselves from those that love us.
Allow yourself to feel!
When we suffer, stories fly through our head, stories about what happened, why it happened, who’s fault it was, etc. In a way these stories keep us from having to feel. Instead of feeling we are figuring it all out, making meaning around it, trying to make it have sense, obsessing with it. On the other hand, we can ignore the problem, pay no attention to it and fill ourselves up with other things that falsely promise us a sense of worth: unfulfilling relationships, food, video games, etc. We do anything to keep away from ourselves thinking then we don’t have to see the worthlessness, the loneliness. Trying to keep ourselves away from ourselves so then we don’t have to feel the pain. We find out sooner, or later that these are empty promises. Temporary solutions, masking yet increasing the problem. We spend so much of our lives running away from feelings, thinking that they will hurt or there is something wrong with them.
One of the most powerful things you can do for healing is to allow yourself to feel. An unfelt, unresolved feeling, especially one we judge to be pathological can reek havoc on our emotions, our relationships, and our identity. We might not be feeling, but it feels like we are since we are suffering so badly. How would our lives be different if we just allowed ourselves to feel?
“If you don’t start a feeling, you cannot take that feeling to an end,” says Women, Food, and God, author, Geneen Roth. If we don’t feel, we are cheating ourselves of the relief of finishing it. In a way, the feeling is chasing us, merely one step behind, keeping us moving, fighting, going in a perpetual state of stress since we cannot let down our guards lest it catch up.
However, if we allowed ourselves to feel it, it is never as bad as we assumed. The running is so much worse. We hurt ourselves in the guise of protecting. The actual feeling is easy compared to how the story about it has and is making us suffer.
It is in the story we make meaning around the situation, often fear the consequences, judging our responses, blaming others for hurting us, blaming ourselves for driving them to it. This fills our head, causing greater worry and stress. It is like worry on top of worry, and judgment on top of judgment. This increasing the sympathetic nervous response and we feel terrible physically, emotionally, and mentally.
The stories about the feelings, and what happened to bring about the feelings–blaming ourselves and blaming others–that fill our head, have us run away from feelings. This is what takes so long to heal. We think a feeling is unbearable yet we are willing to endure years of self torture with stories of blame, fear and guilt cluttering our mind. When we allow ourselves to feel, without the story, just feel, it can go away. The only way out is through. Faster than you ever imagine.