Ever feel stuck? Like the drivers I see on Minneapolis streets after a snowstorm — the car is started, it’s in gear but one of the four tires is spinning, and nothing is moving. It’s a crappy feeling. It’s frustrating. It’s discouraging. However, here’s some good news: it’s still a feeling.
We spend so much time worrying about whether or not we have the “right” feelings that we fail to realize it’s a sign of health that we’re aware of our feelings at all. Too often feelings are a source of shame or embarrassment. In today’s hyper-hyped social media, you’re supposed to be crushing it and killing-it and never feeling down.
When it comes to feelings we don’t value we numb, deny or ignore them. The problem is you can’t selectively “numb,” so you’re blocking out joy with the pain. Denial is a spell that only mesmerizes us and never others. And ignoring your feelings is liking driving down the highway and putting black tape over that annoying flashing “low fuel” light. Your feelings are speaking to you. Listen.
Here are some things to think through when dealing with feelings:
-What am I actually feeling? (Try to be specific)
-Have I felt this before?
-Are these feelings tied to a situation, event, experience or decision?
-Are there actions that can be taken that would alter my feelings? (not just medicate them away with drugs, alcohol, sex or food)
-How is my self-care?
-Am I able to communicate my feelings to someone else?
There isn’t a dream that you have for your life that won’t require you to manage through discouragement, skepticism, despair, and opposition – in some form. You’re going to have feelings. And unless your intent is to be a sociopath feeling nothing, you’re going to need a management plan.
Who are your people you talk to?
Do you need professional help? (I’m a big believer in professional therapy.)
What fills up your tank and is it on your calendar?
What are the greatest joys in your life? (Keep a list)
These are just a few things I use to manage feelings, but the most significant thing I do with my feelings is to feel them. They can point you to health, hope and discovery of what’s missing.