Last week we started talking about the importance of actually feeling our emotions. Numbness might feel protective, and it is initially, but continued pretending that you aren’t feeling what you’re really feeling will eventually cause you so many more problems (physically, mentally, and/or emotionally). It’s just not worth it to stay there.
Learning how to process your emotions (and I’m not talking about just tolerating whatever you’re feeling but actually allowing the feeling to be there without judgment) will ultimately enable you to have the strength you want and need in your difficult situations.
Our son left home just weeks before a planned vacation to Nashville. After the initial shock of his leaving, I went through periods of sadness, anger, and despair. We were unsure whether or not we should go on our trip without him. Ultimately, we decided to go and I promised myself that while there were bound to be times during our trip when I would feel down, I would also allow myself to feel happy and just enjoy our experience. The college football bowl game we attended was lots of fun, especially the bantering back-and-forth since my husband and I were rooting for different teams. We enjoyed yummy food at Margaritaville but when song after song reminded me of my runaway son, I sat in my chair and cried because I was sad. And while I enjoyed my first Opry show, my heart felt empty when one song performed spoke directly to our situation with our son. Our trip was definitely a mixed bag… but I was grateful because even though I experienced some negative feelings, I also got to experience many positive ones.
And that is why it’s so important to learn how to process emotions. Yes, you get to deal with some of the not-so-nice stuff BUT you also get the good stuff ~ and it’s totally worth it.
Last week you worked on just becoming aware of what you were feeling. The next step is to relax into that emotion. You do that by describing how it feels. Where do you feel it in your body? Is it hot or cold? Is it moving? If so, is it fast or slow? Is your feeling a certain color? Notice as many things as you can about the emotion you are feeling.
For example, when I was in the restaurant and all of my son’s favorite songs played and sadness enveloped me, my entire body felt a little heavy, my ears got warm, and I felt gray all over.
One time my son told me something and I was instantly angry. My hands and feet felt like they were on fire, my ears seemed hollow and my head felt like it was fractured into tiny pieces. My breathing got shallow and if the feeling had a color it was definitely red.
As you go through the process of watching the emotion inside of your body, you’ll start to realize that what you are feeling is just a vibration in your body. And even though a feeling can sometimes seem so overwhelming, it cannot hurt you. Sure, the heaviness I felt when I was sad was uncomfortable, but it wasn’t going to kill me. With that awareness, it’s easier to allow the emotion to just be there.
Allowing yourself to feel your emotion gives you a chance to see what’s going on in your brain. As you become aware of what it is you’re thinking, you then get to decide if it’s true, helpful, and/or something you want to keep thinking. In essence, you now get to manage what’s going on for you inside your head. This cannot happen when you hide from your emotions or resist your feelings. It can only happen with awareness.
Learning to process the many emotions you get to experience as you deal with your son will make it so you can go into the hard situations with confidence, you can replace the worry with love, and you can feel peace even when things aren’t going the way you want them to. Because isn’t it true that you will be more of the kind of mom you want to be if you’re feeling confident, loving, and peaceful? Processing your emotions is the way to make that happen.