Have you ever been in a situation where you were trying to push away your unwanted feelings or felt upset with yourself for feeling the way that you were?
What was the result?
I recently met with a client who expressed to me that there are times in his job (as a team leader) where he felt angry at his team.
He felt angry when his team was not following through on the tasks they were given or when they were not functioning at their peak performance.
He would then get himself into a cycle where he did not like the angry feelings he was feeling, and then get angry at himself for getting angry.
He acknowledged that this cycle was not benefiting him or his team and was only holding him back as a leader. The cycle was having a negative effect on his work and productivity. At the same time he did not know how to break this cycle and move forward.
I explained to my client that the best way to deal with feelings and move forward in a healthier, more productive, and efficient way, was to simply acknowledge and accept your feelings first.
We tend to judge our negative feelings, and in turn, judge ourselves for feeling them.
We generally accept our positive feelings, such as joy or when we think something is funny. We also tend to accept feelings of sadness when that sadness is expressed in connection with a personal or national tragedy.
We tend to judge other feelings like anger and sensitivity. We might also judge ourselves or others for expressing feelings that are seen as inappropriate for certain situations (such as laughing when someone gets hurt.)
Feelings, however, are just that – feelings.
Anger, sadness, joy, laughter, fear, pain, jubilation, excitement are all simply feelings.
Our feelings come and go and we are likely to experience multiple feelings throughout our day.
We are able to observe our feelings come and go easily when these feelings are ones that we do not judge, such as joy and excitement.
What you will find when and if you stop to observe yourself when you are experiencing these feelings is that they tend to reach a peek and then naturally ebb.
This is true for all feelings besides for the ones we feel the need to and or want to push away.
When we push our feelings away, we put our experience with our feelings in an unnatural state. In this unnatural state, the feelings we are pushing away get stored away in our bodies or deep in our emotions. This ignoring or pushing away of these unwanted feelings creates a build-up that usually presents itself in a sort of explosion at another point in our lives and usually in a situation that feels safe (like yelling at our loved ones.)
The most effective way to deal with your unwanted feelings so that you can move forward in a healthy and effective way is to give yourself permission to feel what you feel without judgment (just as you do with the feelings you experience that you do not judge.)
This is not to say that you should express your anger with hurtful words. Doing so usually yields negative results.
Accepting your feelings without judgment means to give yourself a time out and to sit with your feelings. You can write out what you are feeling or express them out loud. (If you are expressing it to another, do so by taking full responsibility for your feelings and expressing them as your feelings, and not in the form of blame.)
When you accept and allow yourself to feel what you are feeling, you will notice that after a certain amount of time your feelings will dissipate. Like a bell curve, feelings climb to a peak, and then gradually fall.*
Just as when you are feeling excited, that feeling of excitement eventually wanes, so too your feelings of anger or sadness will reach its peak and then wane.
Recognizing and acknowledging this about your feelings, and accepting your range of feelings without judgment, will empower you and help you to move forward with more ease.
Once your feelings start to calm down and you feel more able to think more clearly, you can connect to what you want to accomplish and be proactive in taking the steps to create the results that you want in your given situation.
Allowing yourself to feel will allow for that process to happen quicker and more naturally.
Today, and everyday, acknowledge yourself by giving yourself the permission to feel what you feel without judgment. Take note of what results you experience.
As always, I am happy to help. Feel free to get in touch if you would like any support with this, or if you have any questions or comments you’d like to share with me.
In support and admiration,
*You can read more about this in Barbara Sher’s book ‘I Can Do Anything if I Only Knew What it Was.’