Emotions are not meant to be shoved down, fought against, or avoided. They can be such wise messengers sent to bring us the gift of our truth. As we lean into our emotions, they tell us everything we need to know. Much like a “check engine light” indicates what’s happening inside our car, our emotions and accompanying body sensations tell us what’s going on within us. Yup, even the “icky” ones tell us such important things. As you lean in and soften to your feelings rather than fight them, you will find incredible lessons. Practice tuning in and listening to your inner wisdom.
This practice takes time, especially when recovering from trauma, heightened anxiety, and deep depression as it is initially so distressing to feel the intensity of the emotions that a natural aversion to them can develop. Please know, you don’t have to go at it alone.
It’s hard to identify what you’re feeling (or even that it’s ok that you are feeling) if you haven’t been taught how to do that as a child. Were you ever told “stop crying you’re being dramatic”, “boys don’t cry”, “knock it off, you’re fine”, or even more subtle messages like the expression of anger wasn’t tolerated safely in your family?
I like to think of emotions like being the 64 box of crayons. Our emotional range is the level of safety to feel and express all of the emotions (i .e. the size of our crayons box) and depends on your family of origin and what your parents were capable of feeling themselves. Some of us were only given the box of 8 crayons, figuratively, and unconsciously told it wasn’t ok to feel or express the other emotions like anger, frustration or sadness.
Learning emotional regulation skills as an adult is hard but not impossible. Learning to name what you’re feeling and learn to surf through it are skills that you can learn now (and even more importantly if you’re a parent, by teaching your children this skill, you’re teaching yourself as well!). By breaking multigenerational patterns, you are learning how to do one better. And that is the ultimate feeling of freedom.