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Go Team 2023! Feeling Feelings

When you are in the middle of making changes in your life – whether those changes are positive or challenging, you are going to churn up some feelings.

You might be excited and hopeful, you might be sad and frustrated, you might be annoyed, you might be scared.

Your feelings might make perfect sense to you or they might seem utterly bizarre.

You don’t actually have to come up with explanations for your feelings, you don’t have to justify them, and you definitely don’t have to dive into them and swim around.

Usually, it’s better to just let yourself feel your feelings, to accept them as a reaction to the thing that is changing, and to try not to suppress them or push them away.

I don’t mean to suggest that feeling your feelings and accepting them is an easy process – most of us don’t have a lot of training or experience in doing that – but I think it is a worthwhile practice to ease our way into.

Note: I am not a trained mental health professional so my advice is this area is limited. I just want to be clear that I am not suggesting that you start acting out your every feeling. There is a big difference between feeling something and taking action on it and it is important to learn to discern when to share our feelings (and with whom) and what feelings-related actions are appropriate to take. Many times, feelings are something for us to feel and accept – perhaps with trained support – but we can’t automatically assume that everyone around us needs to be involved in accommodating our feelings.

Ok, back to the feelings that pop up when we make changes.

It’s really important to realize that churning up feelings is just part of the process of change. Those feelings aren’t necessarily signs that we are doing the wrong thing (or the right thing), they might have useful information for us or they might be related to an old story or situation we are still carrying around in our heads. And they might only have the tiniest sliver of connection to the changes we are making, feelings get churned up about all kinds of things.

If our feelings are prolonged and overwhelming and creating challenges for us, we will need some sort of professional assistance to meet the needs connected to them.

If they are regular, garden variety feelings, then we need to give ourselves room to feel them and, once the intensity of the feelings have waned a bit, we can figure out if they have any useful information for us.

Maybe you will realize that you have some fear surrounding the changes you are making and you’ll need to find a way to increase your feelings of safety as you move forward.

Perhaps you’ll realize how excited you are about the changes and you want to take things up a notch.

Maybe you find sitting in meditation overwhelming and upsetting but you still feel drawn to the practice – that might mean you would find more ease in walking meditation or in meditative drawing.

Obviously, I can’t guess every possible feeling you might be having and advise you how to proceed but I can suggest, as I always do, that you can be kind to yourself throughout the process.

You are doing the best you can with the resources you have and it is ok to feel any of the feelings you are having related to these changes.

Having feelings, even weird and inexplicable ones, churn up in the process of building a habit is perfectly normal and makes perfect sense.

When you stir something up – your soup, your garden, the stuff in your junk drawer – things get rearranged and you automatically bring new stuff to the surface. The same thing happens when you stir your life up a bit. Please try to be kind to yourself about what arises and get whatever help you need to help you address it.

Here are your gold stars for your efforts today:

a drawing of three gold stars against a background of thin, overlapping, black lines
Image description: a drawing of three gold stars against a background of thin, overlapping, black lines

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