Emotions are an integral part of our human experience. They color our world, guide our decisions, and shape our interactions. Yet, for many of us, there’s a tendency to push these feelings aside, bury them deep, or simply avoid them altogether. In this blog post, we’re going to explore the benefits of doing the opposite—embracing our emotions and allowing ourselves to feel them fully.
Many people do not see the purpose of sitting with emotions from the past and present. I often hear clients say things like, “Well I don’t like being sad, so why would I let myself be sad?” or “What’s the point of being angry if there’s nothing I can do about it?” These are understandable responses! Many emotions are difficult to experience, and sometimes they can even feel intolerable.
That said, emotions are deeply valuable, multi-faceted responses to our internal and external worlds. These feelings are not random; they serve as signals, telling us something important about ourselves and our surroundings. Yet, it’s common to downplay or deny these signals, often due to societal expectations or personal discomfort.
The Benefits of “Feeling Your Feelings”
- Increased Self-Awareness- Embracing emotions allows us to learn key information about who we are. It can help us understand ourselves, make good decisions, and attend to our values and triggers.
- Improved Emotional Intelligence- It enhances our ability to recognize and empathize with others’ emotions. This allows us to better connect with and understand the people around us.
- Relief From Difficult Emotions- Research suggests that when we feel our feelings, they are more likely to pass. This is referred to as the “Paradox of Emotion.” When we avoid emotions from the past or present, the intensity of the emotion is likely to build, show up repeatedly, or manifest as a physical symptom.
- Feeling Positive Emotions- You cannot selectively numb emotions, so when you choose to numb sadness, anxiety, anger, and stress–you are also numbing joy, pleasure, excitement, and contentment.
- Improved Physical Health- Our emotional and physical well-being are intertwined. Studies have shown that unprocessed emotions can manifest as physical symptoms, such as headaches, digestive issues, or even chronic illnesses. When we allow ourselves to feel and address our emotions, we can experience tangible improvements in our physical health.
- Building Resilience- Embracing our feelings can make us emotionally stronger. By learning how to cope with and adapt to our emotions, we become more resilient in the face of life’s challenges. Rather than feeling overwhelmed, we develop healthier ways to navigate adversity.
- Stronger Relationships- Our emotional openness also affects our relationships. When we share our feelings and encourage open communication with loved ones, we build trust and deepen our connections. Healthy relationships thrive on emotional authenticity.
Strategies for “Feeling Your Feelings”
- Mindfulness- Practice mindfulness exercises to stay present with your feelings. Examples include meditation, deep breathing, body scans, and focusing on the five senses.
- Journaling- Write down your thoughts and emotions to gain clarity and insight. Notice what comes up. Allow emotions to come and stay and go.
- Talk to someone- There are numerous benefits to sharing how you feel with others, whether it’s a loved one or a trained professional. Sometimes it is essential to work with a therapist who can guide you through the process.
In a world that often encourages emotional suppression, remember that your feelings carry so much valuable information. Sometimes leaning into an emotion, rather than turning away from it, may be exactly what we need. If you are struggling to navigate your emotions or need professional guidance, don’t hesitate to reach out. Our therapy services are here to support you on your path to emotional well-being.
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