Why sit with your feelings?
First, I want to define what I mean when I say sitting with feelings. For me there’s two large parts to this.
The first part is feeling my feelings. Listening to the sensations in my body that emotions bring. Listening to the thoughts that go with them. It doesn’t mean changing them, or fighting against them, testing their validity, anything like that. Just feeling the breadth of them.
Things to remember at this part:
- Be safe. See my post from last month here for more concrete tips on being safe: How Do You Sit With Your Feelings?
- Feelings and thoughts aren’t objective facts, and objective facts don’t always have an affect on feelings
- Shame is normal when it comes to emotions and the affect they can have on our body
- We want to avoid bad feelings, it can be difficult to fight past that to feel the bad feelings
The second part is arguably the more difficult part, and comes hand in hand with the first part. It’s about being open and curious. Feelings can prompt healing and transformation, and you need to be open to what these feelings can bring.
Feelings generally are productive, when listened to, and acknowledged in some way. Whether that’s acknowledging the reality of a situation fully, or accepting your feelings are leading you to interpret a situation in a way that isn’t reflective of reality or any other way your thoughts and feelings are interconnected. It’s tough work.
Your ego is loud, even if you don’t think it is. Even if you have imposter syndrome or anxiety, or anything else that can affect your ego. You have an ego, and it’s deep within you, and informs your patterns. You might find yourself questioning deep parts of yourself, bringing things to the light. That might bring a wave of irritation, anger, sadness, all sorts of things. These feelings also need feeling and acknowledging.
Things to think about:
- This isn’t a one and done, it’s a process
- This is part of self care. The difficult part of self care is shining a light on places you’d rather not explore and digging into it, seeing what comes out
- You don’t have to feel any way, your body doesn’t have to react a specific way. You don’t even have to name your feelings if you don’t want to or can’t. Things will happen.
- Learning your own patterns, and learning to trust yourself and your feelings (and your ability to feel and cope with them), is incredibly powerful, but it takes time.
There are a few different reasons to sit with your feelings
- Getting to know what your feelings feel like. Where do you hold tension? What does happy feel like for you? Anger? Boredom? This can be something really powerful to know, to figure out do you can catch feelings early, or just to know yourself better.
- Resilience. By not turning away from feelings and instead sitting with them and riding the waves, it becomes less scary to experience them. This means next time life takes a turn, you’ll be more confident in your ability to cope with the feelings that come out of that situation
- Being more in the moment. I lost so many years to worrying. Time spent with my partner or friends marred with thoughts of ‘am I experiencing this enough? Am I wasting this time? When they or I are gone, will I regret not spending more time with them?’ I was worrying this in their presence, and it was a persistent thought. I found it hard to just enjoy life, because my anxiety gnawed away at the joy.
- Giving myself grace. Setting aside time and space to be and feel means it’s a lot easier to give myself grace, because I know my own patterns. I know what can trigger what feelings, and how to manage those in the moment, as well as coming back around to them longer term.