As a culture, we’re becoming more self-aware. It’s now commonplace to find articles about emotional intelligence and Imposter Syndrome, both of which were formerly broadly categorized as “new age” or “self-help” topics. And the idea of self-care, far from being a mere conversational buzzword tossed around (mostly by women, mostly wealthy) can now be found on sites like Forbes and Business Insider.
However, the downside to all this self-awareness is that it sometimes goes into overdrive.
Case in point:
You receive some disappointing news. You feel sad. This is a normal and perfectly natural reaction. But then, you start to criticize yourself. A voice in your head says,
“I shouldn’t feel this way. I should be grateful for everything I have. Other people have it so much worse than me.“
Before you know it, the Feelings Police have arrived, sirens flashing, ready to issue you a citation for your totally normal emotional response.
They Just Love Writing Tickets.
I call this voice The Feelings Police because it’s like a psychological squad of badge-wearing officers, ready to ticket you for the most minor (and justifiable) infractions.
Having a feeling is normal. Feeling guilty about that feeling is not. How come? Because feelings can’t be wrong! Anger, sadness, joy, anguish, excitement and a zillion other sentiments are simply emotions. And as emotional beings, we feel what we feel, period.
The Feelings Police mean well. Their goal is to remind you to check your ego and look outside yourself. They do valuable work, and we appreciate their service. But sometimes, like a self-important mall cop, they butt in and involve themselves when their services aren’t necessary.
So what can you do?
Here’s a Great Tip.
It comes David Kessler, considered by many to be the world’s foremost expert on grief. He says,
It’s important we acknowledge what we go through. One unfortunate byproduct of the self-help movement is we’re the first generation to have feelings about our feelings. We tell ourselves things like, I feel sad, but I shouldn’t feel that; other people have it worse. We can — we should — stop at the first feeling. I feel sad. Let me go for five minutes to feel sad. Your work is to feel your sadness and fear and anger whether or not someone else is feeling something. Fighting it doesn’t help because your body is producing the feeling. If we allow the feelings to happen, they’ll happen in an orderly way, and it empowers us. Then we’re not victims.
Feel the Feeling. Then stop.
When you find yourself experiencing and emotion, simply allow it to sit with you for a moment. Name it by saying aloud, “I’m feeling sad,” or “I’m feeling jealous,” or “I’m feeling left out.” It’s very powerful to identify the feeling because awareness is the first step toward letting it move through you. Allow the sensation to wash over you , without adding personal judgment to it.
One more thing.
Additionally, this article provides a beautiful mental image of what this process might look like. Written as a letter to his brother, the author relates a story about a time his brother was helping a friend through a difficult time. Referring to a sudden onset of emotions, he says, “When I feel the wave coming, I just let it crash over me.”
Feel your feelings. Let the wave crash over you. Allow the feelings to happen in an orderly way, and you’ll be empowered. ♥
Do the Feelings Police have a habit of infiltrating your head space? Comment below!↓↓
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