Every single problem you have right now – and have ever had in the past – is caused by an unwillingness to feel some sort of negative emotion.
Does that statement ring true for you?
I know that for me, it rings 100% true, and I know I’m not alone. And lucky us! Because this means that if we can open ourselves up to our pain, then we’ll experience LESS of it.
Instead of adding an extra layer of resistance on top of our negative feelings, you’ll just be left with what’s here. And what’s here is always more manageable than the endless stories that we fabricate in our minds.
Learning how to embrace my discomfort – and practicing feeling all my feelings, not just the good ones – has absolutely changed my life (no exaggeration), and I’m hoping it can help you too.
But before we get into that, let’s look at how this became a problem in the first place.
Your Brain + Society = Refusal to Feel Discomfort
The desire to avoid pain is written into our biological makeup. (So if you were starting to feel bad about not wanting to feel bad, stop it.)
Our primal brain is predisposed to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Back in the early days, it’s how we avoided getting burnt by fire and other life-saving stuff.
In today’s modern society, pleasure is far more accessible than ever; and with such abundant pleasure available to us 24/7, we have become far less accustomed to feeling discomfort.
In fact, we aren’t just intolerant of discomfort, we resist the hell out of it. And it’s no surprise. Between your brain’s natural wiring and our pleasure-oriented society, we’ve been conditioned to run like mad away from our pain.
But it comes at a deep cost.
Are You Compounding Your Problems by Refusing to Feel Your Feelings?
When we run from our pain, we disconnect from ourselves. We’re saying, “I don’t want to be here for this. I’d rather be over there. So I’m leaving you, and I’ll be back when things get better.”
That isn’t the kind of relationship that we want with ourselves, and it creates a whole world of other problems.
For example, if you refuse to feel the pain of a recent breakup, then you’ll turn towards pleasure in the form of food or alcohol or excess, which will only create another problem of overeating, overdrinking, or [insert your overabundance here].
As we avoid our pain, we actually compound our pain by creating another problem on top of what was already there.
So, what’s the way out?
The practice of staying with yourself and feeling all your feelings – even if it’s painful – is tough. But luckily all you have to do is just show up.
Just show up to what’s here right now – to what’s true for you – even if it’s messy and it hurts. Even if it means dealing with rejection and loss and heartbreak.
Stay with these feelings, and just show up.
You don’t need to find a way out. You don’t need to make it better.
Feel your feelings, and stay with yourself and what’s here.
The Life-Changing Magic of Feeling Your Feelings
Opening yourself up to all your feelings – and walking into the room with your pain instead of slamming the door shut – will help you dissolve unnecessary resistance in your life. It will allow you to ease into the pain instead of living in constant panic.
Although it might sound miserable, it’s not. Finding peace amid the storm is always much easier than struggling against it.
For me, I saw this clearly in my overeating tendencies.
Food used to be my crutch whenever there was an emotion that I didn’t want to feel; and I had no idea I was doing it either.
It took a lot of practice to learn how to feel my feelings instead of numbing them with food.
But by golly, after about a year of practice, I’ve finally broken the overeating habit and – more importantly – grew closer to myself in the process.
The Path Isn’t Always Pretty
Now, this isn’t a quick-fixer-picker-upper solution, and it’s definitely not for everyone.
It’s not easy to lean into discomfort instead of shying away. Tough feelings require courage, strength, bravery, and compassion. (So don’t go too hard on yourself, ok?)
When I started my practice of feeling my feelings, I thought that I chose a bad time because it seemed like I was going through a rough patch.
Later, however, I realized that I wasn’t experiencing more bad stuff. Rather, I was simply feeling the pain that has always been there and I just never acknowledged.
But I don’t regret this choice for a second.
The closer I get to my pain, the more I grow and love and connect on deeper and deeper levels.
Although I feel more rough edges, I also feel more depth in all that I do; and that includes love and compassion and openness.
Do This for Yourself
Whenever you’re feeling down, remember to let yourself feel those feelings.
Before you try to fix your situation, try to release the panic and just stay with yourself and what’s here.
You’ll discover that what’s here isn’t as bad as you thought.
When you completely surrender to your truth, the world doesn’t crumble and neither do you.
You may even stand a little taller because you’re owning your truth. Instead of rejecting this experience and rejecting yourself,
you can finally stand by your own side and witness the beautiful contrast in your life.
With enough practice, the pain will lessen because the extra layer of resistance is gone.
This work isn’t immediately gratifying. Pain is still pain, and that’s why this is the path of the warrior.
You have the strength and courage that it takes to do this.
Feel your feelings, and watch how your whole life expands.