TOO many people I meet are at a loss as to what to do about feelings. Many are afraid to go there, worried they will breach a dam wall of tears, and not be able to stop the torrent. Others don’t see the point going somewhere ‘unproductive’ in this sink-or-swim, just-keep-up world.
What can we do with our feelings? How do we make them work for us? How can we contain them?
I want to suggest three ways we can be proactive in terms of our feelings:
1. Explore feelings – feelings beg to be explored. Yet, to engage in this process involves such courage. But, the reward is immense as we tap into our truth. Our feelings are our barometer for the truth that has happened to us. Exploration really is about saying I must honour my truth, for without it I betray myself. Sometimes, especially where trauma is present, it is best to enter into exploration with the help of a therapist we feel safe with. Any feelings we explore are to be free of judgment. We allow our feelings the sanctity of their existence. Our feelings are there for good reason. They are a product of our experience. The endpoint of exploration is that we can live with our feelings. We own the fact that they belong. Now we can process our feelings.
2. Process feelings – having explored our feelings, they now can be processed. What does that mean? It’s a process of reflection and meaning-making, such that we can differentiate what is of value, and therefore to be retained, from what is not of value, that may be discarded. Processing is a way of curating our experience, and it is aided by journaling or any other format of recording what is meaningful in a way that is meaningful.
3. Contain feelings – having processed our feelings, containment is possible. Power is granted to contain our feelings once we have engaged with exploration and processing. Containment really is another word for acceptance. Our feelings reside in a bubble, safe for appropriate access, and they are no longer a danger to us.
Our feelings are meant to be a blessing to us. They can only be a blessing though when we explore their truth, process their depth, and contain their power.