I sometimes find it challenging to honor my own feelings – especially if what I want or feel seems to be at odds with other people, or my emotions don’t seem to be “appropriate” to the situation. While I’m not someone who tends to hold back sharing my honest opinions, desires, and feelings and, over the years, I’ve gotten quite a bit of feedback from people close to me about talking too much, dominating situations or conversations, and being selfish – underneath all of this is a deep fear that my feelings and desires aren’t as important as other people’s.
It has been humbling to come to this realization about myself recently. However, it has also been incredibly liberating to see this pattern and to ask myself the question, “What would it be like to honor my real feelings and to live my life knowing that what I want and feel is just as important as anyone else?”
Honoring our feelings isn’t about being self absorbed, arrogant, or better than anyone – it’s really about being true to ourselves, honest with how we feel and what we want, and willing to engage in authentic conversations with other people – even, and especially, when we don’t feel or want the same things that they do.
These and other things get in the way of truly honouring what we feel and what we want in life. Sadly, by not honouring our feelings we both discount ourselves in a painful, and ultimately damaging way, and we create separation between us and other people, often the most important people in our lives.
The first step of any process is always about being real, first and foremost with ourselves. Even if we feel unclear or uncomfortable with a specific situation or certain set of emotions or desires, the more willing we are to be real about what we truly feel and want, the more ability we’ll have to honour ourselves and be authentic with others. Making it a practice of getting in touch with our true feelings is essential. A great way to do this is through journaling. It’s not about justifying how we feel to anyone else, it’s about being honest with ourselves.
One of the biggest things that can get in our way in life, in general and specifically when it comes to feeling our feelings and expressing our desires, is self judgment. We think to ourselves, “I shouldn’t feel this way,” or “If I share this, they will think I’m a terrible person.” We use these self critical thoughts to suppress our true feelings, which can have significantly negative consequences on us and others. What if we just allowed ourselves to be real and to honor what’s true for us in the moment, without judging it?
Many of us, myself included, are attached to our “story.” We love all of the drama and all of the details that make up the relationships, situations, and circumstances in our lives (both past and present). While our life story, as well as the details of specific relationships and circumstances in our lives, is important at some level, too often we get caught in the story and all the drama, which actually takes us out of our emotional experience. Where we have real power is in feeling our feelings, not talking about them, rationalizing them, or explaining them – but in simply feeling them. Human emotions are not sustainable – especially if they are authentically felt. It only takes about a minute or two to genuinely feel and move through an emotion. However, when we attach an emotion to a story, we don’t allow ourselves to truly feel it and thus can keep it stuck in place.