Last week I was feeling blue. I couldn’t pinpoint a problem exactly, but I knew I didn’t feel the way I wanted to feel.
Perhaps it’s the seasonal shift and the fact that the sun is setting in Portland, Maine, around 4:15 pm these days. Maybe it’s the slowing down I’ve been doing lately. Doing less allows things to rise to the surface that I’ve previously not wanted to let myself feel—hence my busyness to avoid feeling them.
I was feeling those things.
Some people find melancholy romantic and somehow bittersweetly satisfying. I am not one of those people.
Usually, I would push on through the depression and pretend it wasn’t happening. What I did this time instead was acknowledge it.
I told Mike I was feeling depressed. I took an afternoon nap on the love seat in his office. (His suggestion. I married a good one.)
I told my mom I was feeling depressed. We booked an afternoon of foot soaks and reflexology.
I let myself experience what it felt like to be depressed and not know why and not know how to fix it. And instead of getting busy, I got quiet.
After a few days of waking up in a funky fog, I awoke feeling bright and alive instead. I hadn’t had any major emotional breakthroughs. I hadn’t had a huge realization of any kind.
I’d just let the feelings do their thing.
I used to have seasonal depressions that would hang around for a couple of months. (Upping my vitamin D levels, exercising regularly, and having writing as a creative outlet have helped a lot.)
This one only lasted a couple of days. Why? Because I let it be what it was.
It’s called an emotion for a reason. Six of the seven letters in the word are about movement.
When we let our feelings be in their true nature without resisting, avoiding, or pushing them down, they tend to move.
The fear is that if we fully acknowledge a feeling that doesn’t feel good, we’ll dive so deeply that we’ll never stop feeling that way.
In fact, the exact opposite is true.
The deeper we dive into feeling a certain way, the sooner we feel a different way.
How do we actually feel what we’re feeling?
- See what physical sensations you’re experiencing when you feel certain emotions. What does depression feel like in your body? What does anxiety feel like? Where in your body do you feel an emotion?
- Get curious about the feeling itself. Sit down and literally feel.
Life is dull when lived in a narrow band of mediocre highs and ho-hum lows. Things get zingy when we’re willing to go to both ends of the spectrum.
Whatever feeling comes knocking at your door, notice it. Let it in. Make space for it.
What we resist persists. Instead, welcome the emotion and you’ll give it space to move, which is exactly what it wants to do.
Over to you:
How do you give your feelings space to be what they are? What do you notice when you resist versus embrace your emotions? Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!
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