A question I get often is: “What’s the purpose of feeling my feelings, when bringing them to the surface just makes me feel worse?”
We feel our feelings for two reasons: First, to release the pressure that gets built up when we suppress emotions. Second, to offer ourselves the healing that our emotions are asking for.
And if we leave out that second part, our symptoms will complain!
Leaving out the second part is often the reason why, when we set out to do the work of “feeling our feelings” — whether it’s through my favorite method, expressive writing, or some other technique — we find ourselves feeling worse instead of better.
We usually turn toward emotional release exercises because we’re already feeling discomfort — the discomfort of emotional suppression. We feel the emotional energy trapped inside of us, causing havoc in the form of symptoms like muscle tension and chronic pain, and we want to release the tension. In fact, if we want to find relief from symptoms, we need to release the tension!
And you can’t let go of trapped emotions by further suppressing them. The way to release trapped emotions is this:
First, by allowing the emotion to rise up and express itself — safely, through journaling, art, movement, breath, or whatever non-destructive method speaks to you.
And then, by meeting the emotion with acknowledgment, empathy and love.
Do not forget that second part!
If we only express emotions but forget to meet them with love, they won’t release. They’ll just get churned up and continue to spiral, often provoking a symptom flare-up.
Emotional energy is like electricity: it needs something bigger than itself to ground into, and that thing is love.
If a friend expressed their emotions to you, you wouldn’t leave them hanging, right? You’d respond with acknowledgment, empathy and love. Don’t leave yourself hanging either, or you’ll feel like a friend whose feelings were dismissed.
Invite your feelings to rise up and express themselves so that when they do, you can meet them with acknowledgment, empathy and love.
Sending all the love to you. This is a messy process of unlearning our harsh social conditioning. Be gentle and forgiving with yourself as you unlearn,
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Previously Published on Medium