‘I don’t have time for feelings.’
‘Feelings make you weak.’
‘Feelings just slow you down.’
‘What are feelings?’
‘I don’t feel feelings. I just push through.’
‘All I can feel is anger or stress.’
Do any of these statements resonate with you? So many of us find ourselves sitting with these kinds of statements. We’re high achievers. We’re doers. We get things done in life. We rationalize, fix, intellectualize….
And yet, we find ourselves in need of support. So many of my clients find themselves in my Atlanta counseling office saying these kinds of statements. And, I get it. In some ways we can benefit from ‘not feeling.’ I mean, not feeling helps us get things done. It helps us accomplish tasks. It helps us get through challenging circumstances.
But, here’s the thing about not feeling. It also leaves us….not feeling…but feeling at the same time. Hang in there. I’ll explain.
When we choose not to experience feelings, we ‘stuff’ them. We push them down. We keep it moving. But, I use this analogy in my Atlanta counseling office to explain how stuffing feelings tends to go.
Imagine a 2 liter bottle of coke. Picture me shaking the bottle up. Nothing bad is going to happen…yet. But let’s say someone comes and opens it (a trigger occurs.) What happens? It explodes. This is what happens for many of us. We get triggered by something, and an explosion occurs. Maybe the explosion comes in the form of snapping at your spouse, or experiencing unexplained anxiety, realizing we’re completely disconnected from others, sensing a lack of purpose or a feeling of emptiness….the explosion can come in many different forms.
Experiencing one’s feelings, exploring feelings, learning about feelings, owning feelings, caring for feelings, and maybe going to counseling, can be like taking the 2 liter and gently letting out a little bit of air from the cap. Just a little at a time, until eventually all of the fizz is gone. Then, when the big trigger comes, the one that completely opens the bottle up, there’s no explosion.
So, if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t do the whole feelings thing…check yourself. Feelings are just feelings. They’re not wrong or right. They’re just feelings. It’s what we do with feelings that’s healthy or unhealthy.
Need a starting point? You could start by simply noticing you’re experiencing a feeling and actually naming it. Watch out. Most people who struggle in this area tend to go with ‘anger’ or ‘stressed.’ Try to use more feelings words than just these. An easy way to expand your feelings vocabulary is to Google the term ‘feelings list’ and take a look at all of the images that have feelings words in them. Then use those lists to help you out.
Now, labeling your feelings won’t solve everything. But, it’s a great start. If you know you could use more support, reach out to an Atlanta counselor, or a friend, or a mentor…just reach out.