My number one job is to notice you. I sit across from you, listening to really understand and basically notice things. Something I have noticed a lot of recently is the pervasive nature of judgment. Not just any judgment, but hot, critical, spiteful, self-judgment. In short, we are stinking mean to ourselves. When I hear anyone being mean about or critical of people I care about I find myself wanting to yell at them or shake them. Imagine how awkward it is for me when the people being mean about the people I care about are the people themselves!
Of all the things we can be critical of ourselves about, I find people are most critical about the way they feel. “I shouldn’t feel this way!” “I should just get over this!” “God, why am I such a mess!” “Sorry for crying, it’s so stupid to cry.”
You guys, feelings are life. They are literally the reason we get up and the reason we work hard and the reason we fight and the reason we sleep. When I say the reason I don’t mean the cause, I mean the WHY. Why do we have friends? Because it feels amazing! Why do we get married? Because it feels so good! Why do we have kids? Because it feels so wonderful! Why do we eat a number one from our favorite restaurant? Because it feels so good.
I bet it’s rare that you judge yourself for good feelings though. I’ve heard it come out of people’s mouths but it is rare. You judge yourself for feeling sad, for feeling tired, for feeling alone. You want to eradicate those feelings ASAP. These “Negative” feelings are a driving force in a way. We feel them and often we are driven to act; to change things. Awesome.
But if you can’t do anything about them immediately, or if all of the methods of relief you turn to are bad for you (eating, drinking, smoking, cutting, picking fights) then you probably turn to judgment. It might sound something like this…
“Ugh, I’m so lonely, I need to hang out with someone.”
*sends several text messages.
*waits for responses…
*gets a lot of “Sorry, I can’t tonight!” responses.
“GAH, Why does no one have time for me!? What is wrong with me that no one EVER wants to hang out!? I’m going to die alone!”
(am I being to dramatic or am I spot on?)
“I’m feeling really sad about my life today. Things aren’t where I had hoped they would be by this age. Instead of thinking about things that make me sadder, I’m going to throw myself into this busy work because “Getting something done” means I can forget I’m sad for today.”
When I type them out they sound ridiculous. But people say them. Hell, I say them sometimes.
SO…what if we stopped judging ourselves for having “bad” feelings and we allowed them? What if we really sat back and felt our sadness, or our loneliness, or our anxiety? What if we noticed its nuances, what it felt like in our bodies, its texture, its shape? It is likely that this idea scares you. You might feel like you would just drown and die. In all likelihood, the things that you use to avoid your feelings have a higher chance of killing you than your feelings do. Additionally, feeling these feelings, and listening to them can open doors to ourselves that we never imagined existed; doors to skills, abilities, tenacity, strength, curiosity. So. Many. Possibilities. In a way painful feelings are just the wrapping paper around really incredible gifts. You just have to get in there to discover it.
Additionally, many of our feelings are complimentary like colors on the color wheel. Have you not noticed how stinging loss can cause you to hold your loved ones tighter with gratitude? How about how pouring tears sometimes end in giggles? Can you think of more for yourself?
If you have some feelings you need help understanding, examining, and learning to feel and live in or near the CSRA, visit the contact page to schedule a session with Jennifer.