Shall we talk about feelings? (Only my favourite topic, ever.)

Look, I like to talk about feelings. But not always. Some feelings are just… not fun to feel. Or talk about.

I have been thinking a lot about those uncomfortable feelings and how our avoidance of them, of feeling/processing/metabolizing them creates more trouble because it seems there’s a lot of trouble in the world right now, that maybe could have been avoided if someone just sat down, had a safe place, to feel their feelings. I don’t want this to sound judgmental because I think the “safe place” is key… and if someone doesn’t have that, it’s pretty damn impossible to work through those emotions, to not be rocked by them. (And I think it’s easy to be swayed by manipulative people, who act like they know what you’re feeling, but are really just pushing their own agenda… but that’s my read on a lot of the political agitation we’re seeing in the world right now. The radicalization toolbox is at play.) Back on topic: I think we’re meant to be providing this safety for each other, and that a really healthy society has all kinds of mechanisms built into it, to enable that. Outlets for processing and sharing and supporting each other through it. I’m not quite sure how to get from here to there. (My wonderful meditation teacher talks about penduluming in and out – move into the tough stuff, and then swing back out and find your centre… My wonderful plant medicine teacher says, we tend to be overly heroic, all or nothing, in our actions, but we really can just start small.)

So perhaps this is a start.

This post comes via my instagram travels, from Jake Ernst, who says smart and confronting things in that channel.

Try not to rush toward an endpoint just to finish a feeling.

Here’s the uncomfortable truth about uncomfortable emotions: We need them. 

Each of our emotions have their own unique physiology. Anger has a physiology that helps us fight back, defend, and pursue justice. Anxiety has a physiology that helps us avoid and get away from things. Shame has a physiology that triggers social pain and reminds us about the consequences of rejection. 

Physiology is a branch of science that helps us understand the way living organisms or bodily parts function. Physiological states describe the conditions of relative normal functioning for an organism and pathological states refer to the conditions of relative abnormal functioning. 

Too often, our emotional responses are labelled as having pathology rather than being understood as having a physiological function. Too often our emotions are thought of as an indicator that something is wrong with us and not a function of our biology working correctly.

The paradox of our emotional states is that we need them even though they’re uncomfortable. To be honest, I don’t personally want a life without discomfort. A life without our normal human reactions feels unfinished. These uncomfortable reactions inside of us so easily get labelled as trauma responses — we forget that feeling big feelings is also part of being human.

If an emotion causes us discomfort, we may be in the habit of avoiding it rather than welcoming, facing, or accepting it. Some of us might rush through our feelings just to get them over with. Some of us may shut them down just to finish the feeling so we don’t have to feel uncomfortable. In any case, it is healthy for us to welcome and embrace our feelings and do so without getting stuck in them.

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