7 Healthy Ways to Feel Your Feelings
Many of us evade our feelings. And we do so for a range of reasons, typically related to fear – the fear of loss, the fear of conflict, the fear of change, according to Joyce Marter, LCPC, a therapist and owner of Urban Balance.
Many of us evade our feelings. And we do so for a range of reasons, typically related to fear – the fear of loss, the fear of conflict, the fear of change, according to Joyce Marter, LCPC, a therapist and owner of Urban Balance, a counseling practice in the Chicago Area. Even positive feelings can be overwhelming, she said.
So we pretend they don’t exist. We bury them under piles of tasks and chores. We stuff them into filing cabinets, into the already bursting closets of our brains. We eat them. We drink them. We discount them.
But feeling our feelings is vital. “If honored, our feelings are sources of information that can lead us on our paths of living life authentically,” Marter said. Your feelings are a valuable barometer, letting you know “when things don't feel right and when they do.” Here’s how to make the most of that barometer, along with coping effectively.
Decode the message.
As Darlene Mininni, Ph.D, MPH, writes in her book The Emotional Toolkit, our emotions have purpose. And it’s important to figure out what they’re trying to tell us. She classifies emotions into four main categories: anxiety, anger, sadness and happiness. To understand what each emotion is communicating, she suggests considering these questions: What am I afraid of? How have my values been attacked? What have I lost? What have I gained? Each question corresponds with an emotion.
Practice deep breathing.
“Feelings are waves of energy that we feel within our bodies,” Marter said. That’s why she suggested quieting yourself with deep breathing. Then pay attention to where you’re holding tension or feelings in your body. “Give those sensations a shape, color and size. Imagine breathing into those regions and giving yourself whatever it is that you need, like peace, love or serenity. Then imagine breathing out or releasing whatever it is that you don’t need.”
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