You’d be forgiven for thinking this article was the mental and emotional equivalent of a fast food feast. Its deliberately deceptive headline is of course, a play on words.
Those of us who have lived long enough already know that there really are no quick fixes to leading a happy and fulfilled life. So please forgive the canny, comedic headline taking you down one road in your mind, while actually leading you to another.
Maybe it’s a little like life itself!
That said, it certainly is possible to feel better in five minutes! The challenge is how to sustain our good feelings, however realistic or even truly desirable that might be.
As human beings, we are continually growing, changing and striving for progress, whatever that means to each of us personally. So perhaps appreciating that painful feelings are inevitable is the way forward, since change always leads to loss and both of these are a normal part of the process of growth.
Losing something also leads to gaining something else, but that doesn’t mean going through the process is always easy! Sometimes it’s extremely difficult and uncomfortable. So we might be tempted to resist change altogether because we’d rather not feel some of the associated, difficult feelings.
Yet there is a reason the butterfly is so often used to symbolise transformation and change. It didn’t start out as a butterfly! It must go through several challenging stages in order become something spectacular.
My hope is that you allow yourself to think differently about your feelings; about their value, power and importance in your life and how getting to know and understand them better can play a huge part in improving both your life and how you handle your circumstances.
You Really can Learn to Feel Better by Feeling (your feelings) Better
Yes, all of your feelings! Making a decision to connect fully with the good, the bad and the ugly feelings that we all experience will generally help you to feel better in life – and about life. You’ll feel more alive, more joyful more awake to who you are, as you tap into greater sources of empathy for yourself and yes, you’ve got it, others too.
Of course, this also means that you may feel more of your fear, your anger, envy and the sadness too.
Not something most of us revel in, look forward to or desire!
Life may not feel better immediately or overnight. At times, things can actually seem worse if deeply denied feelings come to the surface when we welcome them, or when we become aware of a truth that we’ve worked so hard to ignore for so long.
It’s important that we’re gentle with ourselves during these times; that we take our time. Honouring our own path and journey is a vital part of living an authentic life.
“There are no benefits in rushing through a process to reach a ‘goal’ or even negatively comparing our life with others.“
Taking the slower road to living authentically is ultimately more beneficial. Everyone knows the story and metaphorical significance of the hare & the tortoise. That slow and steady tortoise makes progress every day. He doesn’t need to race ahead, be distracted or become adversely impacted by what the hare is up to. Yes, he’s slower, but he still wins the race. His race. He doesn’t become entangled or overly disturbed by the confident displays of the hare. The tortoise knows that his way works for him and so he stays with himself; focused on his road and his goals ahead.
So, in just under five minutes now – or as long as it takes you to read to the end of this article – you’ll appreciate why honouring feelings are important and you’ll begin to learn how to work with them to see progress in all your relationships and ultimately, your direction of travel in life.
Why Bother to Notice, Acknowledge and Experience Feelings?
It is through the practice of noticing, acknowledging and experiencing our feelings that we can begin the process of making sense of them. Then, as we make sense of their appearance in our lives and work with them to transform ourselves on the inside (with the intent of living a happier and more fulfilled life) things on the outside naturally start to change too.
Think about it.
“If we don’t know how we feel on the inside, how is it even possible to know that we’re making good, honest choices that are truly meaningful to us on the outside, in ordinary, everyday life?“
While this theory sounds very simple and straightforward, in reality – and for many of us – it’s often quite the opposite.
So many of us work hard – consciously or unconsciously – to hide or deny our true feelings across an array of circumstances in our lives.
We not only routinely hide our feelings from others, but more importantly, we’re expert at keeping them from ourselves; especially those feelings we might label as uncomfortable, unacceptable or unpleasant. We do this for all sorts of reasons, but one key reason is to keep ourselves safe from real or imaginary danger.
Sometimes, just feeling some of our feelings secretly when we’re alone can feel frightening – never mind talking about them with someone else! We may fear the overwhelming feeling itself e.g. shame, anger or deep despair or the impact it may have; on us or someone we love, e.g. rejection, alienation or abandonment. These fears are understandable, especially if we have experienced this previously in our lives or early years.
However, perhaps more common than this, is the speed with which we easily reject ourselves on the inside – sometimes more than others might – quickly berating ourselves when anger arises, burying our shame or disregarding our opinion when it differs from someone else’s. These are often habitual responses and reactions. We’re doing what we’ve always done, which may have been wholly necessary in the past, but may not be serving us well today.
Everyday life doesn’t always allow the space for sharing feelings, especially the difficult ones. It’s perfectly acceptable to smile happily on a Zoom call, to cheerfully chat with colleagues about our weekends on a Monday morning at the office or post our perfectly Photoshopped image on social media. Yet, to consider sharing honestly about how angry, sad or ashamed we’re feeling?
Not so inviting, popular or commonplace!
Perhaps it’s little wonder then, that we rarely recognise our own truth or find it easy to routinely override or disregard these feelings inside ourselves.
Our interactions in the environments we inhabit certainly play a part in how we feel, however, they’re definitely not the whole picture.
“We each have a rich, inner-world and perhaps also a connection with God or a Higher Power, which is where the power really lies. Working with our imaginations while becoming conscious of the thoughts and images we create, allows us to make a difference to our feelings, and therefore how we experience life.“
Confidential talking therapies are becoming more and more popular. People are valuing the space to talk. We all experience ‘difficult’ feelings from time to time. When pain goes unnoticed or unprocessed – especially for years on end – not only can physical dis-ease set in, we may wake up one day to unexpectedly discover that we’re living deeply unsatisfying lives.
So, until we can acknowledge what’s truly going on for us at an emotional level, it can be difficult to navigate life’s challenges congruently. Instead, we get busy being busy, overriding our truth, pretending life is one way, when it’s actually another, protecting the emotional parts we have exiled, while we carry on denying ourselves the opportunity to enjoy our authentic life which awaits us.
The miracle of acknowledging, accepting and feeling our true feelings is, that once recognised, understood and accepted, these feelings often begin the process of transformation all by themselves.
Knowing When it’s Time
Working with our feelings (and not just noticing, acknowledging and experiencing them) is an important next step. As the famous saying goes, ‘knowledge is power’. When we know more about something, our possibilities and choices generally open up.
So a good time to start working with feelings is when those repeating, emotional patterns pop up in our outcomes, behaviour and life situations. You know the ones! They send us down those old, familiar roads again; the ones we genuinely didn’t intend to be on, but find ourselves there, time and time again.
That might be feeling powerless in another abusive relationship, defeated and angry after being overlooked for promotion or shame about sabotaging a healthy, new routine we’ve invested so much time and effort to establish. There are many, many possibilities of course; you’ll know what’s true for you.
So, what do I mean when I say ‘working with’ our feelings?
Once you’ve recognised and acknowledged a repetitive feeling which may have appeared through a series of similar circumstances in your life, it can be really helpful to delve deeper into that part of you.
Working with is getting underneath the feeling, understanding its source, its purpose and ultimately, creating a conscious relationship with it.
Honouring the Early Years
We are all shaped by the people around us during childhood, as we are constantly learning from what we’re explicitly taught, what we see and hear and what we bring from our own personalities.
We are also impacted by the overall energy and many unspoken messages that are automatically absorbed from influential adults in our environments and communities. As children and young adults, we routinely interpret, misinterpret and try to make sense of the world, the information around us and the nuanced dos and don’ts as we form our identities.
We may unintentionally mimic those early influencers, conform to their strict expectations or find that we’ve spent years rebelling against them, only to discover much later that the polar-opposite, reacting against response hasn’t produced the results we were hoping for either.
The Wisdom of the Presenting Past
How are these past patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving showing up in your life today? Look for the similarities in your responses and feelings today to how you habitually felt while growing up.
This is the single, biggest clue that we may have unprocessed feelings from our past, which are trying to heal by re-appearing in the present. Once we ‘get the message’ and start dealing with our feelings differently, they don’t have the same need to routinely and metaphorically ‘scream’ at us and cause havoc in our lives as adults.
Work With Each Part
One really powerful way to work with your feelings is to see yourself made up of lots of parts. All of us have happy, loving, sad and angry parts, the part that wants to figure things out, shut ourselves up or the guilty, ashamed parts, and so on. Begin the process of noticing how often each of those parts shows up in your life. Are you habitually sad? Often reacting angrily to other people’s behaviour?
Secondly, notice how you relate to each of these parts. Are you more aware of some parts than others?
Do you favour some over others? Perhaps you’re welcoming and kind to the happy part of you, yet frustrated and abusive to the depressed part or completely dismissive of the angry part inside, actively pushing it away when it appears and shutting it up.
This can be a new and unusual experience; to start noticing how you feel towards the different parts of yourself. So take your time! Perhaps use real life examples. The next time you are triggered by someone else or a situation and a familiar feeling comes up, check in with how you’re treating that part of you.
The Wisdom of Relationship
What if you could build a relationship with each of your parts and have a two-way dialogue? What might the sad or depressed part be trying to say to you? What wisdom is the angry part trying to share? And how might you respond if you saw them as wise messengers, rather than noisy disrupters in your life?
Time and time again, I work with clients who open up this new pathway to peace by dialoguing with these parts of themselves, which have often been subtly shamed, blatantly ostracised or continually criticised, causing that feeling to keep on trying to be seen and heard.
When the adult self can find ways to show love and compassion for each part, these parts not only tell the truth about hidden pain, but they often point to towards a need or a healthier and happier way to respond. Dialoguing with our parts builds trust in the authentic self to handle present challenges in new and creative ways.
So, I invite you to take time to explore your feelings; welcome all of them in! As you get to know them better, you’ll start to feel better too.
If you’d like to find out more about feeling better to feel better, drop me a line for a free, no obligation consultation and exploration. firstname.lastname@example.org
Imgae by Nini Kvaratskhelia, Pixabay