Do you avoid feeling sad, angry, or vulnerable? Some feelings can cause you to lose power and as a result you feel less confident. So you try to avoid that feeling so that you do not lose your power. Many people are mis-educated about feelings, they believe that what they feel defines them and they will be stuck with that feeling.
Emotions come and go, and they do not make up who you are. For example, many people avoid feeling angry because they think that means they are an angry person or they will stay angry if they accept that feeling. Anger will pass just like joy or stress does.
In my life, I have had to distinct experience of trying to avoid feelings of vulnerability, especially in romantic relationships. I would spend so much time trying to avoid feeling vulnerable in romantic relationships because I thought that meant I was weak. I was ruled by my fear of not wanting to seem weak and powerless.
Romantic relationship may not be the area where you avoid certain feelings, for you it may be relationships with your family or friends. We all lose power in one or more of our relationships. Usually there is a specific feeling we can not tolerate experiencing and as a result we avoid and suppress that feeling.
I always was ashamed that I felt vulnerable and even tried to keep how I felt a secret from other people. But in my work as a coach, I found I was not the only one who could not tolerate feeling vulnerable. Many of my clients had the same fear.
What I have seen in my own life is that, the more I avoided the feeling of vulnerability the more it showed up. It’s like that saying “what you resist persists”. In the past, the more I avoided feeling vulnerable and weak the more I felt vulnerable and weak. It was when I finally accepted how I felt, embraced the feelings, and stopped seeing that as a burden that they moved through me quickly.
Many people avoid what they feel because they are scared they will be overwhelmed by what they feel and will get stuck in that emotion. But the exact opposite happens, when you accept and embrace what you feel it does not have a grip on you and keep re-occurring in your life.
Now If I am sad, hurt, or angry I accept that is what I feel. In the past I would try to intellectualize what I was feeling and push down the actual feeling. Now I say to myself “bring it on” If I am angry then I let it out (usually on a pillow), if I am sad I don’t even try to hold back the tears, I let the river run. If I am scared, I say “I am really scared”. There is no pretending or denying what I feel.
When you accept and embrace your feelings, you feel a sense of genuine confidence and power about yourself. You also feel much more at ease expressing your feelings with others. What is even more remarkable is that you are able to distinguish that your feelings are separate from you and they are not always aligned with your true self.
Your assignment for this week: Pick one relationship or area of your life that you have a strong fear of experiencing a certain feeling? Focus on that feeling, do not hold back, and let it out. Whatever emotion you feel, sit with it. Avoid monitoring what you are thinking, feeling, or making it wrong. A very good way of releasing emotions is to exaggerate what you feel. So if you feel really sad, think of how a child would their express sadness, and act it out in a similar way. I know this sounds silly, but it works. Children move through feelings fast because they feel it, express it, and move on. Adults avoid, deny, and repress their feelings and they get stuck with it for years.
Copyright (c) 2008 Melisa Milonas LLC