Feel the feelings without reaching for an escape

All of our emotions are part of the beautiful, ever changing sensation of being alive.

And each of us should be proud of having our own feelings about the world. It’s one of gifts we bring to the table.

But we should also remember that while our feelings are perfectly legitimate, they’re also completely transitory.

Feelings, no matter how strong, do not prove that something is factual or valid. In many cases they’re straight up propaganda, selling us the story of struggle.

The campaign has announced itself, posters are plastered on every wall in our minds, and the party is coming to town before we know it.

And what are they saying? Here are a few choice cuts from the greatest hits album of our feelings catalog.

Fear tells us that our safe future comes from us being exceptional.

Pride tells us that people will think we’re weak and don’t have it all together.

Anxiety tells us that the worst case scenario is a foregone conclusion and we won’t even be able to handle it.

Ego tells us that we have explored all the options even when we have not.

Shame tells us that nothing we do will ever be good enough.

But all of these feeling are okay. Because we are okay. Those feelings are not who we are, they’re just what we are experiencing at this particular moment. They are visitors that have inevitably entered our lives. Our identity that is not at the mercy of them.

They’re just energy, not personality traits.

Our skill, then, is getting in touch with their nature. Noticing and naming which feelings are at work, what they might want from us, what we’re supposed to be learning along the way, and so on.

Ecko, the fashion designer and entrepreneur, talks about feelings in terms of managing your inner artist:

Young creative people often get trapped by their emotions. And as you age, you learn how to nurse that feeling, but also when to turn it off in your brain. It’s a mechanism that you have to exercise. Performing an honest inspection and determining when the emotion is driving good work, and when it might lead to unintended consequences.

Getting to this point takes significant work. To be capable of feeling all our feelings without them blowing us off our course, that requires practice. To release feelings without having them destroy us, that takes practice.

Personally, it’s helpful for me to write about my feelings as a prelude to airing them with someone. It functions as the emotional onramp to merge me into the speed of traffic.

The more words are written, the more feelings are felt, the more understanding is generated.

Exercise works the same way. Doing yoga or running helps me deal with my ever changing feelings and moods. The more my body moves, the more feelings are felt, the more understanding is generated.

This is how we fight the propaganda of our minds.

By proving to ourselves that we are no longer afraid to sit still with our feelings, we take back control.

How are you keeping fleeting feelings from becoming permanent realities?


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Author. Speaker. Strategist. Songwriter. Filmmaker. Inventor. Gameshow Host. World Record Holder. I also wear a nametag 24-7. Even to bed.
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