Coming to Terms with your Feelings

Intense emotion can be overwhelming for all of us. And if you’re just opening up to an emotion, it can feel very raw. No matter how experienced you are with your emotions, we all need help sometimes to know how to deal with them.

Learning to recognize and stay with our feelings is a valuable experience. We can learn that just because we feel something, we don’t have to act on it. Or that we can be angry and choose how to respond rather than let the anger control us. The more we know how we feel and ways to feel, release, be with, or let go of our feelings, the better we feel about ourselves.

But how do I know what I’m feeling?

If you don’t know how you feel or how to get in touch with your feelings:

Identify how you feel:
* Sit quietly for a moment; you might want to close your eyes, and then wait and see what you notice from inside.
* Notice how different areas of your body feels
* Focus on the areas of tension, breathe, and see if anything comes to your awareness. You don’t have to think about it.
* Notice whether any thoughts, images, feelings, memories, sounds come to you.
* If nothing comes, that’s okay. You may still want to continue.
* Ask yourself how you’re feeling, and be aware of what comes up.
* You don’t have to figure anything out, just be aware.
* If nothing comes to you, that’s okay. Sometimes that happens. You may still want to try again, another time.
Acknowledge your feelings:
* If you know how you feel, let yourself know that this is how you are feeling right now, and that’s okay.
* You don’t have to know where it is coming from.
* You don’t even have to know what to name it; you may simply know that you have a lot of pain in your chest.
* Breathe through it.
* Let your feelings just be there.
* You don’t have to do anything with them, just accept that this is how you feel.

But where do these feelings come from?

They just seemed to come out of the blue.

If you want to understand why you feel a certain way:

Identify the source of your feelings:
* Know that you are not being “silly” or “crazy” for feeling how you feel; your feelings are there for a good reason.
* Turn inward, and ask yourself what are these feelings connected to.
* Wait and see what you notice. You might just know. You might remember something, see an image, hear a sound, notice tension in a particular area of your body.
* Try not to analyze, interpret or judge what comes to you. Be open to what you notice.
* Go deeper. We may think we already know why we’re feeling a certain way, but sometimes there is more to it than what we think. Being patient and receptive helps us to go deeper.
* If nothing comes to you, that’s okay, too. It helps to just let yourself feel.

What do I do with these feelings?

Express or release your feelings.
Even if you don’t know why you are feeling this way, you can still express yourself in the privacy of your own home.

* Focus on how you feel. Open your mouth and let a sound come from that feeling.
* Move with the feeling. You can dance, stomp around, kick, hit something…just not a PERSON.
* Scream. If you are worried about the sound, you can scream into a pillow.
* Cry. If you feel like crying, give yourself permission to do this.
* Write or draw from this feeling place. Don’t censor yourself, let the feeling do the writing or drawing.
* Say out loud what you need to say to someone.
* Tell someone supportive how you are feeling.

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