I have recently noticed that I panic quite easily when I feel that I am not feeling ok.
This urge to immediately feel ok finds its way to my consciousness and it makes me want to change my feelings as quickly as possible.
Behind this there is a fear of not being the best version of myself all the time.
Is this the good old perfectionism talking?
Maybe my reactions to my upsetting feelings are actually the ones creating my upsetting feelings.
Because even when I now know, feelings are just feelings and their mission is to teach us about ourselves and then continue their way, I still actually haven’t learned it yet.
Learned it deeply enough to actually live it when I am faced with those uncomfortable feelings.
My way of getting out of upsetting feelings is to distract myself with something to watch or move or eat or talk to somebody.
And as good as these methods can be, they are actually distracting me from just feeling that feeling and then letting it go.
This is quite an exciting insight to have.
Because I have thought that I actually have the skills to sit trough some nasty feelings and understand that they just need awareness to be seen.
I remember for example this situation from last summer where I was feeling low and bad about myself. I really didn’t even know why. But, I asked my sister who was home at the time to sit with me and help me go trough those feelings. She just sat there with me and held the space for it.
I had never really done it that way. To actually ask someone to join me and help me in that situation.
And I noticed that it was a big step for me to come from a place where distractions was the main way, to actually face the feelings.
But now I can see deeper.
Maybe that event made me think a little too highly of myself and made me believe that I am mastering this emotion awareness.
When actually, what I have now started to realize is that the moments when we are feeling emotions, “good” and “bad”, are constant.
The true work happens in the daily life when we can consciously breathe and make space for every emotion.
And as big of a step my last summer experience was, one big emotion release doesn’t make my distraction-pattern change. It requires repetition to change a subconscious pattern. Because often (or always) these patterns have been there for a very long time.
This is quite cool actually.
Because now I can truly start to listen to my emotions and be aware of them, maybe even learn from them.
The reason I have panicked or gotten upset about my feelings is that I haven’t let them just be what they are. I have attached too many meanings to them.
Or I have drawn an illusion in my head that I have failed as a person because of these upsetting feelings and emotions.
Like I would only be worthy if I felt only happy emotions?
But am I not then blocking this whole other side of me when I am not letting myself feel all the emotions there is?
I have basically forced myself into this role that I need to be kind, happy, easy and helpful all the time. Especially for others, and in their eyes.
Isn’t this ridiculous?
It is understandable, but also ridiculous. And in some level it is a quite fake role that I have been playing without knowing.
Now what follows is a reflection which I have learnt through my journey, through psychotherapy and healers (Candace Van Dell for example to name a few).
The “always just try to be happy, easy and kind”-role play comes from childhood, when there never really was any emotion mirroring. Everything was just constantly “ok”. Which then, was the way.
But now we know better.
We know now that it is really important for children to learn how to express their feelings, so that they are not suppressing them. This is how adults show kids that emotions truly are just emotions. Without feelings mirrored back from the kid to the adult and back to the kid, the kid slowly starts to think that emotions are scary and they shouldn’t be shown to anybody. Because it is not easy for a child to express feelings, unless they are guided and given enough attention.
A simple example of mirroring:
A kid is quiet and distant when a caregiver is driving him home from school.
Adult: I see that you are upset about something. Are you feeling sad about something?
Kid: Yes… I feel sad. I didn’t see my friend at school today.
Adult: I understand. It is very understandable that youre feeling sad because of that. And I see that its making you upset. But it will pass and you will see your friend hopefully tomorrow. Sadness is a feeling that doesnt always feel good. We all feel sadness, we humans feel different feelings. Do you feel better at all?
Kid: Yes, I feel better. I have so many things to tell my friend tomorrow!
Afterwords, a hug or a touch would be very optimal after handling an emotion to strenghten the experience of still being loved regardless of a sad feeling.
When a child is left alone with his feelings, the feelings can be so strong that the way to handle them is to start blocking them.
And so the role building and playing starts.
Some of us develop a “kind”-role, some of us develop a “distant”-role, some of us develop a “bully”-role. Even a goofy clown is one of these roles… A role is anything that is build to distract the kid from the emotions.
“Mom likes when I am funny, I will always just be funny.” “Dad is calm when I am kind, otherwise he is just yelling, I will always just be kind.”
And as we can imagine, these roles are built because the parents and caregivers weren’t emotionally aware themselves.
Luckily, we are living in the 21st century and the awareness is raising all the time.
Isn’t this the most important and interesting thing ever?
I am really starting to understand that there is something very interesting behind this emotion awareness.
And that the most important thing here too is to be kind towards myself in this journey towards emotional awareness.
In this journey towards a more mindful aspect of emotions.
Whenever I am now catching myself having an upsetting emotion, I will stop and breathe and listen to it. And most importantly, be with it.
Like I would be parenting myself. I can even act the conversation from the example to myself. This way I am learning that I can handle the emotions I am feeling and I can just be there through them.
Not escaping, not distracting myself.
Just being there.
Becoming friends with every feeling there is to experience.
Becoming ok with not being ok.
And that way, I am accepting my whole self.
Not just the happykindeasy-me, but the whole me with every emotion and feeling as it is.