Emotions as Information

Often in working with people, I hear them express their emotions in a way that suggests there isn’t enough space for all of the ways that they feel.

This often elicits a confused vacillation between remaining in the comforts of their old story and stepping in to a new freedom and more aligned way of being.

For example, they might share that they created a new boundary with someone. They might say something like:

“I feel so much freedom and joy from doing so, but I feel so sad and guilty that they were hurt by my actions.”

My first response is to always address the ‘but’ of the situation. Using the word ‘but’ implies that if you feel one way, you’re not allowed to feel the other. So in the above example, you’re not allowed to feel your joy in creating a healthy boundary because of the sadness that exists in you from someone else being hurt by your line drawn. 

I like to invite the person to allow space within their experience to feel whatever they need to feel, and to feel how these dualities show up in their body. Rather than using ‘but’, I ask them if there is space for feeling both. I ask them how it feels to reframe their sentence by replacing ‘but’ with ‘and’.  So instead of “I feel joy about my new thing but I feel sad that it had this affect”. They say “I feel joy about my new thing AND I feel sad that it had this affect”.

Can you feel the difference?

Can you feel the space created for both scenarios and feelings to coexist?

Giving yourself that space grants you the permission to not only feel both emotions but also creates an opening to having a deeper understanding of yourself.

Emotions are often classified as bad/negative and good/positive. In truth, emotions aren’t innately good or bad. They’re neutral tools that show up to offer you guidance and a breadth of information around what you value, who you are, what works or doesn’t work in relation to others, how you may have been wounded in your human experience, where you want to establish boundaries, what belief systems live in or around them, and whether or not those belief systems are working for you anymore.

When you identify an emotion and allow yourself to feel it, explore with curiosity, and give it space to just be without trying to change it or get rid of it, you can begin to navigate your life based on that information in collaboration with your emotionality, allowing those emotions to move through you rather than creating stuckness, ultimately moving you further from your truest self.

As you shift from your old ways of being into new ones, it’s normal to experience a wide range of emotions. You are complex and so are your connections, relationships, and stories. The growth process is as well. 

The next time you experience a myriad of emotions around a concept, scenario, or idea notice the language you use around it. Ask yourself:

Is there space for all of my feelings to exist, at least for now, as I process and integrate them in to my ever changing story?

What information is living within and underneath what I’m feeling?

What can I learn from that information?

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