Tired of Feeling Numb?
Parenting difficult teenagers is certainly not a job for the faint-of-heart mom. Throughout the last five years I have encountered situations I never thought I would have to handle. Most of these experiences have been disappointing; some have been frustrating; and a few have even been mortifying. But because I am not a huge crier, and since high school, I’ve always tended to just by-pass “feeling” and move right to working to get things done, I spent most of my “difficult” parenting years pretty numb to any kind of feeling.
I used to consider my ability to skip feeling as a wonderful trait because I was rarely slowed down by sadness or even anger. If something needed done, even in difficult times (or rather, especially in difficult times) ~ I was your gal. I would stay focused and get the job done because I didn’t have to deal with all those pesky feelings.
Then several years ago I realized that I was so “even keel” that while I spared myself from anger, bitterness, and resentment ~ because I didn’t really ever “feel” anything ~ I was also missing out on joy, excitement, and peace. While I was able to plow through life with efficiency and determination, I rarely enjoyed the nice times or even took time to smell the roses or notice when something good happened. Essentially, I was numb to most all emotion. I decided that while it might be nice to escape most negative emotion, I was no longer sure it was worth it if it meant I also had to miss out on the positive ones.
And so I began my journey to learn how to feel. That might sound silly, but it’s the path I’m on and the reason I can be mostly at peace now, even when my boys put me through the ringer.
I would also venture to say that for those of you that have no comprehension of “not feeling” because maybe you’re often yelling and screaming or always in tears, that rather than avoiding feeling (like me), you are resisting it or reacting to it ~ but both of these are not the same as actually feeling what is going on for you inside.
Now, why in the world would anyone want to learn how to really feel what’s going on? Why would you want to embrace whatever it is you are feeling? Because when you learn to own what it is you’re feeling it allows you to have authority over it so then you can manage it. This means your only options are not numbness or being out of control, even when your son is breaking your heart with his choices. As you learn to really feel ~ yes, you will experience doubt and frustration, and even anxiety. But if you’re willing to feel all of that, you will also get the good stuff. Happiness is possible. Confidence is possible. So is peace. And all while you’re in the middle of your current parenting marathon.
So, how can you start feeling? It’s a process and it definitely takes some practice. If you’re used to avoiding, resisting, or even reacting to your feelings, the first step to actually feeling your emotion is to name it. In the beginning you might only be able to think about how you’re feeling in terms of happy, sad, angry, scared, or surprised. But this is a huge first step if “feeling your emotions” is new to you. Here’s a chart that might help as you learn to figure out what you’re feeling.
Next week I’ll talk about step two but this week I challenge you to stop at least once a day and check in with yourself.
What are you feeling?
Leave me a comment. I’d love to hear about your experience as you learn to identify what it is you’re feeling.