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Feelings 101

by Ashley Pennewill

Sometimes, maybe oftentimes, it’s our feelings that are running the show. In relationships that are close with spouse, children and friends, in times of stress, exhaustion and frustration, feelings can come out in not the prettiest of ways.

Let’s demystify feelings – this alone can totally change your life. Here we go… Feelings are basically the body’s reaction to what’s going on or to what you’re thinking about. They are normal. They aren’t bad, and there’s nothing wrong with them. They come, they stay a while and then they go. It’s a lot like the weather. When you notice anger in your body, for instance, don’t make a big deal out of it. Just breathe, feel it, let it be there and let it go. Don’t hold on to it. It’ll pass when it’s time for it to pass.

How do they get stuck? It has to do with the “don’t hold on to them” part. When we resist them and make a problem out of them, like calling them “bad,” we’re holding on and they can’t pass. When we tell a story about them, we’re holding on. This story includes who, what, when, where, why and how. It often runs on repeat in our minds, and there’s usually at least some amount of exaggeration. The story might seem totally justified, but we’re still getting stuck in the feeling. If you lose the words and just feel and let it go, it’ll pass as quickly as it can. It’s the fastest way out.

When you notice any feeling in your body that you don’t like (i.e., anger, sadness, stress, anxiety, loneliness, frustration), the best thing to do is to stop thinking immediately. Go inward and check out what you’re carrying at that moment. Take stock of what’s there. Then make the decision to let go of it. Don’t hold on to it – just let go. Totally let go. Breathe and relax those specific areas in the body where you feel it. This allows it to be there for as long as it will naturally and normally be there, but more importantly it allows it to leave when it’s ready to leave. That’s the normal, everyday feeling process for a human. No big deal.

When we have the story running in our head that makes the feeling into a problem, we’re not allowing it to pass like it normally would. We’ve made it bigger than it is, and we’ve closed the doors. It came in normally, but now we’re not letting it leave normally. Always keep in mind that feelings are in the realm of the temporary – no feeling has ever been permanent. Some stay longer than we’d like, and I realize that some people can barely remember when they weren’t depressed, for instance, but there was a time. This is still in the realm of the temporary. Feelings come and they go. That’s the law of feelings.

Finally, note that most people suppress or express. And if they suppress, they’ll eventually express when the feelings boil over. Expressing means yelling, fighting, etc. It can be much more subtle than that, too, especially with people who know each other well like spouses or other family members. What can we do en lieu of suppressing and expressing? Feeling. That’s it. If you want to really understand this, read about The Sedona Method, by Hale Dwoskin. This book goes very deep with it. And it’s as simple as it is deep, which is the kind of thing I like. Serious Jedi stuff. Enjoy!

Ashley Pennewill lives in Pensacola where he provides counseling services to anyone interested in getting out of the way of the awesome life that’s just beneath the surface waiting to be discovered. You can learn more about letting go and waking up at acleanmind.com.

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