Readers, let’s get right to it.
Guess what I have a lot of? FEELINGS. And I’m feeling them pretty intensely, all the time. Let’s explore why: 1) I’m a Gemini. 2) I’m an ENFP, which is the MOST feeling of all the Meyers Briggs personality types. 3) I’m an empath, so I soak in the energies of my surroundings. 4) Lastly, and probably the most human of reasons, I live with insecurities that invoke deep, sometimes scary, feelings.
I’m learning to accept and embrace these aspects of myself, but when I’m feeling a flood of anxiety or sadness, it’s pretty hard to ground and pull myself out. It affects my brain and my body and sometimes leaves me feeling helpless and paralyzed. Anyone else experience this? If you’re NOT this bananas and can call on logic and reason in times of emotional need, please shrink yourself and live in my pocket so you can be my logical spirit guide. If you ARE like me and at times ache with feelings, listen up—I’ve got some tips for you.
Name it. Sit with it.
Whether it’s anger, sadness, envy, anxiety or jealousy, sit down, identify the feeling and feel whatever it is. Set a timer—give yourself five minutes, 30 minutes, one hour, whatever feels okay. Let the feeling rush over you and through you. This will most likely be pretty terrible and I’m sorry—but you can handle it. And if you can’t, call someone. We tend to not let ourselves feel hard feelings—we think we can distract ourselves from them, talk ourselves out of them or shame ourselves out of them. Worse is when we feel mad or frustrated at ourselves for feeling sadness, anger, etc. Piling difficult feelings on top of difficult feelings can be super toxic. I recently was advised to tell myself, “It’s okay to feel ______. There is nothing wrong about the way I feel.” It’s when we act on these feelings in a destructive way that problems can begin.
Make a pleasure/self-care list
When you’re feeling balanced and okay, write or type out a list of tasks or actions you can take to make yourself feel better when you’re feeling hard feelings. That list can include taking deep breaths, cuddling into your blanket, watching your favorite stand-up comedian, eating a doughnut, phoning a friend, lighting candles, smelling lavender, drinking tea–whatever works. This way, when you’re overwhelmed with whatever you’re feeling, you don’t have to also feel overwhelmed with how to help yourself.
Find the opportunity
An article I read recently offered a piece of advice I found beautiful and comforting: Your emotions, particularly the difficult ones, are there to teach you something about yourself…so listen to them. Isn’t that lovely? Pay attention to your feelings. When you’re sitting there, seething in anger or downtrodden with sadness, dig below whatever ignited the feeling (perhaps ask yourself, “What has happened in the past to make me react this way?”), and most likely, an insecurity will surface. My friend was telling me how helpful it is for her to write this thought process out on the page. It doesn’t have to be some long, laborious journal entry—you can even draw a diagram of some sort. Try this: Write down your feeling and circle it, then draw little branches from the circle with possible reasons for the feeling. There might only be a couple of branches or perhaps many branches. Don’t edit yourself–you don’t have to fix anything or work on it right away. Simply acknowledging and building self-awareness of the insecurity is powerful and important…and I really, truly believe you’ll feel better after doing this work.
I conclude with a quote from Rainer Maria Rilke: “Let everything happen to you. Beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final.”
No. Feeling. Is. Final. It’s time to begin the difficult work of indulging your feelings. It’s worth it.
Trust your gut and take good (self) care,
Mary Adelle is a poet, a co-host on Give Me the Deets podcast, and the co-curator of Babe Press. She is passionate about taking care of herself and taking care of others. You can email her at [email protected]