I grew up in a household where feeling my feelings wasn't exactly encouraged. Just the opposite actually. I was taught to push my feelings down. To ignore them and not trust them. And that had long-lasting negative effects over the course of my life.
Specifically, until I was in my thirties, I struggled to be vulnerable and I shut down easily. I thought avoiding my feelings would protect me from pain, but it just created more problems.
Through therapy, self-education, and practice, I've come a long way in learning how to process my feelings so I can actually move through them. And my relationship with myself and my relationships with those I love have all been strengthened as a result.
It's still sometimes difficult to sit with and navigate hard feelings, but I have a lot of different methods I can use to help me, and I'm sharing some of those with you today.
14 Ways To Feel Your Feelings
1. Write in a journal or on a piece of paper (you can even crumple it up and throw it away afterward). Try using a prompt, or set a timer and commit to keep writing whatever comes up until it goes off.
2. Listen to sad music (you can give my Songs To Divorce To Spotify playlist a try if you’d like) or watch something that usually makes you cry to get the tears started (I'm partial to the Dawn commercials with the ducks covered in oil).
3. Spend some time with a feelings wheel to try to get increased clarity on what it is you're feeling.
4. Do a mind-body scan to check in with your internal state in the moment.
5. Put on whatever playlist feels right for your mood, then dance and sing it out. Experiment with moving your body in new ways.
6. Write a brutally honest email holding nothing back, then delete it once your feelings are off your chest.
7. Burn some shit in a fire. Seriously.
8. Take a hot shower or bath without distractions and see where your mind wants to wanders.
9. Go outside and reconnect to the greater world. Sit in the sun. Take a walk. Find a beautiful view.
10. Make a hot cup of coffee or tea, then give yourself space to sip and just be.
11. Gather some craft supplies and sit down to create with no agenda. Focus on the experience of making something, not the end result.
12. Do some intensive physical activity. Punch something. Throw something. Get your heart rate up.
13. Lay on your back with your legs up a wall and take deep belly breaths. When your mind starts to wander, gently bring your attention back to your breath.
14. Ask a loved one if they can listen while you vent without giving advice or trying to fix it, then word vomit away.
Take it from someone who's been there: if you never let yourself process what you're feeling, you'll go from one emotional explosion to another with only muted feelings in between. Even though it may be challenging, you have to feel in order to heal.
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I’m a self-trust coach, writer, and podcast host with a mission to help people figure out who they are and what they value so they can come home to themselves.