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The Importance of Honoring Your Feelings August 3, 2011

Filed under: Personal Development — anewgroup @ 11:05 AM

The Importance of Honoring Your Feelings- Even the “Bad” Ones…. By: Monique Davis
So I was driving to work this week and I stopped at a light. As I looked around me I noticed a man in the car next to me crying. He was alone in his car, clearly talking to himself about something that was really upsetting. As I watched, he seemed to give himself a pep talk, dry his tears, pull himself together and look ahead at the road as the light changed to green. Although my watching him was a little voyeuristic, it did not seem so bad because I know others have watched me do the same thing from time to time. Maybe you’ve done it yourself- the car is a protected space in many ways, frequently the only bit of time we have alone all day. It can be a great decompression zone after work, after stress, when you’re sad, or when you’re thinking through a tough problem. For me and my companion at the light, drive time is a safe space for dealing with feelings without impacting others with our expressions of emotion. The important point here is not that it’s a great idea to cry in the car, but that it is important to create opportunities for yourself to process and deal with emotions when they come up. This not only helps you be emotionally healthier and to relieve stress, but it can help you manage conflict as well.
This may seem contrary, as we are often taught not to cry or show emotion and to just “gut it out”, but in reality, we all have feelings, and if we do not find a way to process them, they can get internalized and come back to bit us. What do I mean by that? Well, first, research shows that people who tend to suppress feelings and not show emotion may be more prone to stress-related illnesses. Also, I suspect most of us have had the experience that if you’re upset with someone and you try not to bring it up because you know it will produce conflict, that sooner or later, maybe even months or years later, that frustration and upset, all that emotion, will explode into a bigger conflagration that totally could have been avoided if the emotion, the feeling of being upset, had just been dealt with at the time it happened.
What happens in the case above is that an initial substantive disagreement grows into an emotional mess by being allowed to fester for a long time, and by the time it comes up, the original point is virtually obscured by the pent up emotion. By allowing yourself to process feelings when they come up, to see need to deal with. For example, if I have an argument with my spouse before work and I find myself really angry and upset, the best thing to do for me is to remove myself from the situation, process my anger (usually with a good cry), calm down, and think through whether or not there was really anything in the argument that we need to resolve of if we were just being cranky (yes, it even happens to life coaches). What I’ve found is that once I let my immediate emotional response dissipate after a cry or a little private “scream therapy” or a good round of kickboxing, I can see more clearly if there is a real conflict we need to resolve through “not a fight”, and then we can work on that rationally.
The key is to allow yourself to process the feelings and emotions freely so you can understand what your emotions are, process them, and then look at what’s left. It’s funny- there are folks who are “criers” for whom emotions are processed by having a good cry , often pretty short but intense, and then most emotions can be moved through (that’s me- a cry is my favorite way of dealing with being frustrated, mad, scared, etc.). For others, it’s going for a run, taking a hot bath, going for a long walk with the dogs, or taking a drive, provided you’re not too upset to do that. Whatever works for you, take the time to process your feelings- the thing about feelings is that they change, and as bad as they can be, over time, sometimes a long time in the case of grief and loss, they do dissipate and the view becomes clearer…

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