You are not your feelings. Sounds simple enough. Yet when we are feeling overwhelmed, angry, upset, scared or even frustrated, we can think we are that feeling. I have had coaching clients call and tell me that they are so upset that nothing is going right and that they can not handle it. Or they call and say that they are so scared to move forward that they don’t want to do the work to change it.
I get it. In my early days of doing my own personal growth and healing, I was convinced if I touched that pain and anger that I carried around that I would start crying and never be able to stop. Even though I knew that people did not die from crying too much, it really felt as if it was possible.
The thing to remember about feelings is that they are fluid. You can be happy one moment, sad the next and angry after that. If you remember that they are just feeling and that they will pass, you will begin to feel that you have more room and can begin to work on the root cause.
Feelings are often a symptom of what is going on for us physically as well as emotionally. Feeling a little irritable today? Take a look at how your body feels: did you eat right and hydrate? Are you in pain? Then look at your triggers for the day. Did something happen that may have caused you to feel this way now? How can you change that situation or that thought so that you can release the feeling of being irritable?
Feeling are just that, feelings. They can not be wrong or right, but what is. When we stuff our feelings down and don’t look at them, they will come back bigger and stronger when you least expect it. Imagine a huge balloon over your head. Every time you brush off a feeling you blow in the balloon. Now what happens when it gets full?
The balloon full of those ignored feelings will either burst or leak out. If it bursts you might get really upset or angry. If it leaks out, it can come out in passive aggressive behavior.
Acknowledging our feelings helps to release some of the hold they have over us. Then remembering that we are not our feelings helps us to logically look and see what the root cause of this feeling is and we can begin to address it.
I had a client that claimed she suffered from abandonment issues. She reported to me that it happened when she felt unseen, ignored or brushed off by loved ones. She was sure that her newlywed husband was going to leave her because sometimes he ignored her even though he constantly reassured her.
After a few months of noticing her feelings, tracking it to the root cause and paying attention to her triggers, we discovered it was rooted in a life event that had occurred over 20 years ago that she never healed.
Once it was healed, she did the work with me to allow that. She would notice that the feelings of being abandoned would pop up less often and with less force. She learned that she was not her feelings and found her root cause for the ones that were making her life difficult.
Our feelings are great messengers for us to take notice and be mindful of what we are doing in our lives. We also need to remember that we are not our feelings.