What Can I Do Now? #2 Experience my Feelings

I never knew the importance of recognizing, acknowledging, experiencing, accepting, and releasing my feelings until I experienced the damage of not allowing my feelings to take their natural courses.

If you’ve read other series on my blog or taken my courses, you know how much emphasis I put on acknowledging our feelings as they come up. This is a skill that takes lots and lots of practice, and just like anything wellness routine, it comes with beautiful benefits.

The beauty of this process is that we can do it now. I can take out this Feelings Wheel at any time throughout the day and practice naming my feelings. I personally like using Feelings Wheels and Feelings Charts. There are so many available online, but this is one (see image below) I’ve used in my workshops. I have multiple copies in my personal spaces, and I have a screen shot on my phone.

Yesterday, I talked about being overwhelmed. If I try to look at this when I’m already in a state of overwhelm, I sometimes make it worse. But…if I catch myself before I hit the overwhelm button using this technique can often keep me from hitting it. If I’ve already hit the big red overwhelm button, I start with getting out of that place first (see #1 Overwhelmed).

My friend, Susyn Reeve, also reminded me of the importance of paying attention to the physical sensations that a feelings brings up too. When we can spot the physical sensations it gets us more in-tune with our bodies. When we are in-tune, we might notice the physical sensation, urge, or craving before we recognize the feeling. They can also help us see when we are having an emotional reaction even if we are trying to hide from it. Our bodies will carry anything we don’t face and move on from. Like the name of author Bessel Van Der Kolk, MD’s book, The Body Keeps the Score. Our bodies will pay the price for what we don’t face.

The key is remembering to practice. I’m going to do it right now. You can do it with me if you want to:

  1. Take three long deep breaths in and out
  2. Ask the Universe (You can replace this with a formal prayer if that’s what helps you to connect with the exercise) “Please help me name and experience my feelings with clarity.”
  3. Go through the list and name the feelings that come up for you in this moment. Pay attention to the sensations in your body when a feeling hits home.
  4. You can take this exercise a step deeper by writing down the feeling and where/how you feel it in your body. No stories or explanations of why you are having the feeling is necessary.
  5. Observe what happens when you just recognize the specific feelings one by one, acknowledge how the each feeling resinates in your body, experience the sensation, and accept the feelings being there.
  6. How do you feel now? Did you notice the feeling move or change? Are different feelings coming up for you?

When I do this exercise I begin to notice how fast the feelings move and change. When I remember, I will do this exercise multiple times a day. I’m not sure how we got into the VERY unhealthy habit of not allowing our feelings to be and do what they are meant to, but I think it’s amazing what happens when I stop engaging in the stories that keep the feelings stuck and trapped. Just that can produce a rage that we take out on ourselves and others. I know when I try to hold my feelings in someone will pay the price for it. That’s not the feeling’s fault. That is me not knowing how to express my feelings in a healthy way. That’s me not wanting to accept my feelings being there.

Feelings allow us to tap into unintegrated parts of ourselves. When we can acknowledge we are having an over-reaction to the situation in front of us, I see that as progress. I’ve noticed this a lot in my interactions with my two teenagers. They are at the ages that were the hardest I’ve ever had to experience. The things that happened to me and around me at their ages are the sources of many of my trauma triggers.

If I want a healthy relationship with them, the best thing I can do is recognize the feelings that are coming up for me and process them before I respond to their situation. When I don’t do it before, which does happen, I take some space, and figure it out. Then I go back and explain my discoveries to them. They know my reactions are NEVER their fault. I do my best to do the same in all my relationships.

Simply feeling it through by recognizing, acknowledging, experiencing, accepting, and then finally releasing has reduced so many of my mental and physical health issues. Once we notice where in our bodies our individual feelings are expressed, it’s amazing the discoveries we find.

When feelings are allowed to flow the way they are meant to the release happens naturally. No step needs to be taken. We may just simply acknowledge that a feeling is just no longer there.

The beauty I find in feeling it through is that I get to experience the feeling with a sense of empowerment instead of defeat. I’m still not sure why I will sometimes neglect this simple practice, but that’s a learning experience for another day.

When we take care of our feelings like we would a garden that we love, our feelings have the ability to nurture our gardens in the most mystical ways. When we don’t, the stuck feelings spread poison and can do a lot of damage to our beautiful plant life.

With Love and Gratitude,

Rachael Wolff, author of Letters from a Better Me and host of the From A Loving Place with Rachael Wolff podcast

Don’t miss the first Seeds of Wisdom episode for 2023! If you are reading this post after 1/4/23, you can go to the Seeds of Wisdom page or podcast to watch or listen to any of the Seeds of Wisdom episodes.

2 responses to “What Can I Do Now? #2 Experience my Feelings”

  1. I always had at least a couple feelings charts in my classroom and my students discussed them daily. I also drew a “toolbox” which I gave to each of my students for years. It was made so it could be opened and closed. I also drew a bunch of different “tools” on which my students could write their own coping “tools” they found helpful. The tools could then be attached “inside” their toolbox. I left it up to each student as to whether they wished to discuss or let others see their tools. I was very impressed when a couple of my students took extra blank tools, filled them out, folded them, and gave them to others in class who might be struggling at the time. ________________________________

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: