How to connect with your feelings
It took me years to understand that I had to heal in order to feel. For decades, I ran from my feelings. I ate on them, drank on them and over-worked to avoid them – until I realised that my disconnection from my feelings was sabotaging my relationships. It seems obvious now but for a long time, I was unaware of the importance of feeling my feelings. If I could just keep moving – running or working or travelling or falling in and out of relationships – then they wouldn’t catch up with me. I wouldn’t have to feel the grief, loss and pain that was stored deep inside and that I’d been avoiding since I was a child. I wonder if you have done this, and if you do it now?
Do you numb your feelings in some way or are you connected to them? Do you allow yourself the time and space to go deep and feel what’s actually going on inside, or do you skim over the surface, scared to look underneath? It’s not surprising that some of us avoid our feelings. I remember thinking that if I allowed myself to feel, I’d be overwhelmed – that my feelings would be too much to handle, that the floodgates would open and never close.
And the truth is I did experience a good deal of pain when I began to allow myself to feel. I did cry. It did hurt. But it wasn’t overwhelming. I dried my eyes and I carried on, until it was time to feel again. In this way, I made friends with my feelings. I brought them into the light, shared them with supportive people and shared them with God.
And in time, they did heal. It was a journey I wish I had taken sooner, because my ability to connect to myself, my feelings and my intuition is, I believe, directly related to my ability to form and maintain healthy and loving relationships. This is true for all of us.
Our feelings are signposts. They show us healthy choices. They guide us towards healthy partners and away from unhealthy ones, if we are enlightened enough and courageous enough to pay attention to them. Yes, courage – it takes an extraordinary amount of courage to allow ourselves to be guided by our true feelings. But when we find the courage to follow our feelings, the results are extraordinary too.
I have transformed from a binge-eating, binge-drinking, adrenaline-junkie who was stuck in a cycle of dysfunctional relationships to a woman with a healthy relationship with food and drink, who’s learning to live in balance, peace and calm and who’s happily married to an emotionally available man.
And while I remain a work in progress, the past few weeks have highlighted just how much I have transformed. I have lost my mum, my last remaining parent, who passed away in mid-January. I have experienced huge amounts of grief and loss. But I haven’t run from the feelings or eaten on them. I have allowed myself to sit still, to cry and to be supported by those around me and by God. It feels quite miraculous.
So let me invite you now to feel your feelings. Find a comfortable place to sit and allow your body to relax. Connect to your breath and allow your breath to guide you into the present moment. Once you feel still and relaxed, place your hand on your heart, gently, softly, and allow your internal gaze to focus on what lies inside your heart. What feelings lie within? If your heart could speak, what would it say?
Next, allow your gaze to go a level deeper. What lies beneath the top level of feelings? Can you feel something there? Can you go deeper still? What can you connect with? If you can’t connect to anything right now, simply try again another time. There is no right or wrong. We are all learning. Just allow yourself some space and be open to whatever comes.
If difficult feelings come up, welcome them because they are about to be transformed. Offer them to God, pray about them or write about them. Allow God to soothe your pain. Try this hand-on-heart exercise every day. Add it into your morning routine, to your quiet time. Or pause during your lunchbreak and do it then, or just before you go to bed.
By doing this regularly, you are creating emotional intimacy and building a healthy relationship with yourself, which will enable you to form a romantic relationship with another, based on truth, authenticity and vulnerability. Feeling our feelings is one of the most important building blocks on the journey to love and it’s so worth our energy and time.