Updated: Aug 26, 2020
Shutting out our negative emotions is a habit most of us have, it feels better to ignore how we feel than to face it. Unfortunately, feelings don’t go away, they are stored within us until we feel what we need to heal.
I've been on my inner journey for a few years now. Only recently though I discovered how transformative deeply listening to my feelings can be. In the past I have noticed how I feel but have mainly ignored negative feelings, wishing that they would go away if I distracted myself or covered them up with a layer positivity. Now I have the perspective that repeating negative feelings come up again and again with the hope of being healed. They come up to see if I’m ready to face them. Sometimes I’m not feeling resilient enough or I’m too caught up in the events or thoughts around the emotion that I’m not able to look at it objectively. However, each time is an opportunity to become aware of triggers, patterns, and prepare for next time. This perspective helps me to feel more in control of my emotions because instead of feeling sensitive, unstable, or stagnant I feel like there’s an opportunity in every moment to transform something dark into light. This process has worked really well for me but I must note that I have not studied this subject so I can only speak from my personal experience. Please do seek the support of a therapist if you are struggling mentally and emotionally, you deserve all the support you need to heal.
I believe that healing can happen through experiencing whatever you feel at the time, if you feel ready to. It's not a good idea to go looking for a dark feeling so you can heal it, you should only follow what comes up naturally. This process has no clear path, it unfolds organically, and is not something that can be understood logically. It is a different process for everyone, it's not linear and this should be embraced. Some of my healing moments were sparked by dreams or by writing in my journal, often without even thinking about or experiencing the related emotions recently. Healing something from a long time ago which you thought didn’t bother you anymore is not uncommon.
Meditation is the most helpful tool possible to aid you in feeling your emotions. When you meditate you align your breath with your mind which allows you to watch your thoughts as they go by. You bring your attention to the space between your thoughts and gain a clear perspective away from the analysis and stories your mind drags you into.
If you focus your meditation on your feelings you can observe how you feel and give your feelings the space to transform. You can use your presence in the moment to see the feeling and move around it. If you feel ready to you can dive into the feeling and feel every corner of it. You must let out whatever you feel in whatever form it comes out, there's meant to be a release. At first, it may feel very heavy, like a crashing wave, but you’ll find as you continue to feel that the emotions will transform in front of you. The emotions will feel lighter and lighter, shifting from being deep and dark to being more comfortable to stand, until finally dissipating. It will transform into its healed state, a feeling of positivity, gratitude, or at least neutrality. You might feel a sense of freedom, like a weight has been lifted, or like you have let something go.
There are three essential ingredients to make this practice effective:
Patience - give yourself the time and space alone, this is not something that can be rushed.
Compassion - feel compassion for yourself, negative self-talk will not aid this process. You need to love yourself throughout it and give yourself all the kindness you’ve ever needed.
Presence - without your presence you cannot give yourself all the attention you need. If you are going through stories in your mind about events tied to the feeling then you cannot be completely present. It might be beneficial to stop and come back to this emotion when you have distance from it and have practiced meditating.
Please remember that this is a practice, meaning that no healing can happen in one transformative flash. No difficult emotions should be taken on all at once, you must feel in increments so you can be prepared and resilient. You might only feel ready to feel 10% at a time, just know that it gets easier as you practice. Feeling the fullness of your emotions at any moment is a difficult but rewarding and healing process. However, some things are too heavy to feel on your own so if you feel you need some support make sure you try this with a therapist or someone you trust.
p.s. if you want a song which audibly illustrates 'feel so you can heal' go listen to The River by Aurora. https://youtu.be/P7lE-G1oC34