I should weigh X number of pounds. I should have a super clean home. I should have muscular legs. I should always look "put together." I should say yes whenever people ask me for help, no matter what it is. I should exercise every day. I should be happy. I should know how to do that. I should be able to do it all. I should keep my needs to myself. I should keep my emotions to myself. I should be organized. I should finish everything on my to-do list. I should know what he wants. I should know what she needs.
Connecting to our feelings is vital. Recently, I came across this quote from the new book The Danish Way of Parenting, which is simply spot on: “How can we know what we want when we don’t know what we feel?”
It can be really hard to process our emotions, especially if we've spent years doing anything but. Maybe you've dismissed your emotions. Maybe you've pretended they didn't exist, burying them deeper and deeper, hoping all the dirt would make them disappear.
Knowing ourselves is essential for making supportive decisions, for taking compassionate care of ourselves and for living a fulfilling life. After all, when we know what we need and want, what our natural tendencies and preferences are, we can act accordingly. That is, we can act in ways that honor ourselves.
Our inner critics can be quite harsh and cruel. Which is why many of us start to dislike, or even despise, that inner voice. We might even find ourselves constantly getting caught up in battle.
When we're in a situation, we're in it. Which means it can be hard to make a decision. Because we're simply too close to it. We also might be telling ourselves all sorts of stories. I don't know what I deserve. Am I even worthy of this? I suck at making good decisions. There's too many options! I'm terrible at this! I've always been so indecisive. I'll probably pick the wrong thing, anyway. It's too complicated. What do I know?
Some days everything just feels so loud. And so intrusive. The random thoughts screaming inside your mind. The tension sitting inside your body. The frustration sticking to your skin like glue. The laundry that needs to be folded. The 80 unanswered emails. The 80 other things that need to be done. When? When?
Many of us rarely check in with ourselves. We rarely wonder what we really want. What nourishes us. What delights us. What hurts us. How we can respect ourselves. Which people are actually healthy for us to be around. What is the most compassionate, supportive decision. Or we may know these things but we don't act on them. One reason is that we get caught up.