Have you ever woken up and just don’t feel “okay” or “fine”? I certainly have. And now, if someone I’m close to asks “How are you?” I feel obligated to tell the truth. Because the more I fear negative emotions and try to push them away or hide them from myself and others, the more power they have over me and in our culture.
Anxiety, fear, restlessness, grief doesn’t define who you are. They are simply part of the human condition. So rather than fear them, why not feel the entire rainbow of emotions? Welcome them in, process them and move on. You’ll be all the stronger and more resilient for it.
Some days I need a break. Like a long break that hasn’t come since before the pandemic. I want to just sleep, then I get triggered and want to lash out at something—hit a punching bag maybe? Or just binge-watch Ted Lasso with a bottle of wine. I go from exhaustion to intense restlessness and uncomfortable sensations in my body—the buzzing and racing.
I used to feel like these thoughts and emotions would tear me apart at the seams. I judged them as a dark and weak part of me, so I tried to banish them rather than process them, thinking I was in control. When they didn’t leave, I feared those dark, weak places had taken control, so I buffered to hide from them with overeating, over-drinking, overworking, over-exercising, etc. And the longer they stayed, the more I identified with them fearing the worst—that I was dark and weak.
After years of struggling with this, I know that when I am afraid of my thoughts and emotions, my anxiety escalates into panic and takes on a life of its own. This perceived loss of control overwhelms me, which creates even more anxiety and a downward spiral.
Research shows that our fear of fear is more destructive to our minds and bodies than just the actual fear. Why? Because the actual “negative” emotion can be processed in the moment, whereas the anticipatory anxiety can’t be contained.
With compassion and perspective, I’ve learned to re-characterize dark and weak as completely understandable. This is what my brain is trained to do—perceive danger and protect me from it. When I bring love and awareness to the narrative, I can navigate my way through by identifying my thoughts, using them to inform and guide me and processing the uncomfortable emotions they create. I give myself space to just… feel… all of it.
Feel The Fear
So come with me to a place of non-judgment as we navigate this internal landscape together ….
Don’t feel bad about feeling bad.
Don’t feel anxious about having anxiety.
Don’t be afraid of your fear.
Watch your thoughts and emotions roll in and out like the weather. Give the dark ones the time and space they deserve so they don’t dig in their heels and stay too long. Welcome them in as a part of you, but not the part that controls you. We are both dark and light.
There is no way around the darkness, only through it. Sit in it confident the sun will shine again.
Slow down and feel all the feelings. This will not overwhelm you, it will empower you.
That is how you take back your power.
Because if you can feel rather than fear your negative emotions,
YOU CAN DO ANYTHING.
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