If you are alive you feel things.
People have feelings all the time. In fact, you are probably having a feeling far more often than you are not.
Feelings come and go, wax and wane, and ebb and flow throughout your day. Most cause barely a ruffle or ripple in your life, and that’s just fine.
But some feelings can take on extra power. They may have built themselves up over years of having the same experience over and over again, they may be a result of a one-time event that made a great impact, or they may be far out of your awareness so that it’s difficult for you to properly address them. These are only some of the ways that a feeling may become more intense.
The reality is that human beings are meant to have feelings both positive and negative. This is why if you are alive, you feel things. Furthermore, if you are alive, you feel things you’d rather not feel.
Here are just a few feelings you would probably — I’m guessing — prefer not to feel:
So, given that many feelings are unpleasant, we all find ourselves in moments in which we do not want to feel what we are feeling. But some of us are more prone to go well beyond that — to literally rejecting our feelings when they make us uncomfortable.
If you grew up in a family that rejected and denied your feelings (an emotionally neglectful family) then you probably have a tendency to do that with your feelings now.
Those who grew up with Childhood Emotional Neglect, which is extremely common in today’s world, know only one way to deal with difficult feelings, and it involves judging, denying, and rejecting them.
An Example of What it Means to Reject Your Feelings
I feel so hateful right now.
You may be so uncomfortable viewing yourself as hateful that you reject the feeling itself.
It’s wrong and bad to feel hateful. I don’t want to be that kind of person. I don’t feel hateful. I don’t. I don’t. I’m just a little miffed about the situation, that’s all. I just need to calm down and everything will be fine.
I know what you’re probably thinking. Why is this a problem? Isn’t it a good thing to make sure you aren’t hateful? Isn’t this an example of someone successfully managing a feeling? No, it is not. But I completely understand why you might think it is!
What it Means to Accept Your Feelings
Accepting your feelings is not the same thing as indulging your feelings.
It means accepting what you feel without judgment. Feelings are chosen by your body, not your head. They were wired into your central nervous system before birth, and they are meant to be used as a resource in your life.
Your emotions are a natural feedback system that informs and directs and energizes you. They tell you what you want and need, inform you when to seek help or protect yourself, and direct you in what to seek or avoid. They will also tell you so much more when you listen to them.
This is why it’s so very important to never judge yourself for having a feeling. You feel what you feel. You did not choose it because we cannot choose our feelings. And in order to use your emotions, you must start at Step 1 by accepting it.
An Example of Accepting Your Feelings
I feel so hateful right now.
This is very uncomfortable, but you know that you are not choosing to feel this way, yet it is your responsibility to decide what to do with it.
So you do not judge yourself for your hateful feelings. Instead, you consider why your body is sending you this emotion.
Why am I feeling hateful?
By starting with acceptance of this feeling you are able to discern its cause.
I feel hateful because I am fed up with the way my family treats me. I’ve tried everything, and they just won’t listen. It makes me feel these hateful feelings.
You recognize that you feel hateful for a reason but you also know that hate will harm you if you indulge it too much and you do not want to allow it to define you.
What is this feeling telling me? Does it carry a useful message? What should I do with it if I don’t want to become a hateful person?
My body is telling me that I need to try something else. Nothing I have tried has worked so I must do something else.
Using your brain to process your feeling and the dilemma it presents is an extraordinarily helpful exercise. It forces your body and your brain to unite and work together to make good choices and decisions for yourself.
In this situation, you may decide that you need to spend less time with your family or stand up to them instead of trying to explain things to them or put less energy into your relationship with them or put more energy into your relationship with them. Your hateful feelings may drive you to get advice from a friend, vent to your spouse, or read a self-help book, for example.
3 Reasons You Must Accept Your Feelings No Matter What They Are
- Since your emotions are a deeply personal, biological expression of who you are, rejecting your feelings is a way of rejecting yourself. It’s harmful.
- Your feelings are messages from your body. They are a crucial, valuable resource for you to use in your life.
- Unaccepted, denied, or walled-off feelings don’t actually go away. In fact, they only become stronger.
- Once you have processed any uncomfortable feelings in this way, an incredible thing happens. The feelings naturally diminish. This is what feelings do once you have purposely sat with them and allowed yourself to feel and think about them. It works.
When you judge yourself for having a feeling and convince yourself you don’t have it you do an extraordinary injustice to yourself, your body, and your life.
So what seems easy at the moment of discomfort is actually absolutely not easy overall. And what may seem impossible to tolerate is also absolutely not. This is a process that you can practice and learn and it all starts with one thing:
Find lots of great resources to help you accept, process, and use your feelings in the author’s Bio below.