I’ve come to a pretty big realisation recently and it’s changed the relationship I have with my feelings. I used to be extremely sensitive to how I felt, preferring to feel balanced at all times. This is probably because more often than not I was living my life on an emotional rollercoaster. Those of you who know me personally will know that I am the (self)designated ‘bag watcher’ at Alton Towers! The way it looked to me was that I was a victim of unwanted feelings which were inflicted upon me without my permission, so I fought against them and sought to manage them at all costs.
In fact, just today at 11:35am I was suddenly overwhelmed by the feeling that I might cry. Now, if that had happened even 6 months ago, I’d have been pretty worried. In fact, here’s how it would have gone…
I feel like I might cry.
I’m at work and I’m close to tears. That’s not acceptable.
I am supposed to be more together than this, there must be something wrong with me.
This always happens, I am so unstable! Up and down, it’s like I’m not in control at all.
I actually am out of control, my emotions are all over the place and now I feel really low and this isn’t nice.
I don’t like feeling like this, I need to pull myself together.
What was it that made me feel so emotional? There has to a be a reason. It was probably because I shouted at child number 2 this morning and now I feel upset about it.
Or maybe it’s because I didn’t get enough sleep last night? I need to get to bed early tonight…
…and so the internal dialogue went on. And on. And on.
Let me show you how it played out today.
I feel like a might cry.
Huh. This is rubbish. I don’t like feeling like this.
Internal weather: Stormy
And it did. By around 2:00pm I had gone in and out of my sad place around 20 times and I was more or less on the other side of it.
The difference between then and now is that 6 months ago, my emotion scared me. It made me feel off-balance and like something was wrong, like I was wrong or doing something wrong. I heaped a whole lot of judgement on it with thoughts like ‘I shouldn’t feel this way’ and ‘That’s not normal. I need help’. I questioned what could have caused it, because if there was a reason, it seemed less scary.
Whereas today, I didn’t care. When the weather changes, we don’t ask why. We just accept it, safe in the knowledge that it will change again. It doesn’t mean we have to like it. Often the weather can make us miserable, but we don’t fight against it. We know we can’t control it so we don’t even try and 100% of the time the storm clouds pass. Just like the weather, our feelings are out of our control and our only job is to experience them. Nothing more.
What if we understood that we are fully equipped to deal with the full spectrum of emotions that we could possibly experience? Our minds are robust and ready to deal with anything, no matter how powerful or unpleasant the emotion. We carry on through low thoughts, anxious thoughts and grief. We don’t always like what we feel, but that’s OK. Our feelings pass on their own. It’s how we’re designed. They can’t break us. Plus, has anyone ever managed to successfully change the weather?
Our brains are designed to weather any storm. What if we were to trust them to do just that? Would that change the relationship you have with your feelings?