How comfortable are you “feeling uncomfortable feelings?” During my 20’s and 30’s I experienced my parent’s divorce, my brother’s suicide, and the death of my mother and father. All of the pain, sadness, betrayal, anger and abandonment these losses brought up for me left me with a deep desire to stuff, ignore or run from strong emotions. Understandably, I was afraid that if I truly allowed myself to stay with my feelings, I’d surely be swallowed by them. Until I learned that the opposite is true: we have to “feel it, to heal it.”
As a transformational author/coach/speaker who teaches adults how to experience more balance in everyday life, a big piece of my work has been learning how to be with strong or uncomfortable feelings and to not intellectualize or “positive thought” these away. I often tell my 20-year-old intense, passionate son that feelings are like the weather in Texas—constantly shifting and changing like storm clouds overhead. In fact, on average, meditation teacher Tara Brach says, a strong feeling only lasts about 90 seconds if you fully let it in. Feelings are just energy moving through our system. They come, they go.
My brother Kert, a soulful management consultant in Canada, has been my biggest teacher around this theme. He constantly encourages me to allow uncomfortable feelings to come knocking, to invite them in for tea and ask them what they’re here to share.
Does hearing this make you think you’d rather go to the dentist for a root canal than embrace that which you most fear? I think most people have this reaction.
I’ve found, over time, that the more we’re able to just be with what we’re feeling, the more we’re able to heal from old wounds. And, when we feel our feelings, we become more open and accessible to our loved ones, we’re more connected to our passions and desires, we become comfortable voicing our needs and drawing clear boundaries, we begin to harvest the gifts that come from living with the light and the dark and contrary to what we might think—we actually begin to feel more alive and less fearful.
And we begin to have breakthroughs that were never possible before.
Having tea with these unexpected visitors (as the 13th century poet Rumi calls them in his poem, The Guest House) actually allows us to experience more freedom, levity and ease. When we learn to fully feel what we’re feeling, we can go with the flow of life. We become more trusting and believe we can handle whatever comes our way.
Dear feelings: the welcome mat is out. The kettle is on. I’m listening.
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Like this post? Subscribe and share it! Live Inside Out is a weekly blog written by mindfulness coach/author/speaker and self-care evangelist Renée Peterson Trudeau. Passionate about helping men and women find balance through the art/science of self-care, Renee has been facilitating transformational, high-impact workshops for Fortune 500 companies, national nonprofits/conferences and organizations worldwide for 25 years. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Fast Company, Good Housekeeping, US News & World Report, AARP, Spirituality & Health and more. She and her team have certified more than 400 facilitators in 10 countries around the globe to lead self-renewal groups for women based on her pioneering self-care curriculum. She’s the author of two books on life balance including the award-winning The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life. She and her husband live in Western North Carolina and Austin, Texas and are enjoying a new empty nest. Her latest project is Wild Souls Nature Adventures. More on Renee here.