I discovered something interesting in therapy this week.
Even when I think I’m in my body, feeling what it’s expressing, often I’m not. Especially if I’m in the presence of another person, even if that “presence” is only over a Zoom call. I notice the feeling, I get uncomfortable, I jump into my head, and I start spiraling into negative, self-shaming thinking.
It happened so quickly in my session that it actually shocked me. I went from noticing my body to melting into a cavern of blame, guilt and loathing towards myself in a matter of seconds. It got me curious. I think of myself as someone who inhabits my body pretty well in a general sense, but I lost my shit during this simple exercise. Why is sitting with the way I feel so incredibly uncomfortable?
I don’t think that we are taught to feel our feelings. Not really. We are taught to take them and translate them into something intellectual and understandable, dissect them into neat compartments within our minds, or suppress and ignore them altogether. We learn that this is how we are meant to process what comes up in our bodies, but it’s clearly not working.
Perhaps we fear our feelings because we were never taught to befriend them. Perhaps we fear them because we grew up thinking that our emotions are us. I certainly never understood how to separate myself from my thoughts and my moods. I’ve spent thirty years thinking something must be terribly wrong with me, that I was broken, simply because I wasn’t taught this simple theory. And what an easy way to lift the burden off my shoulders! It’s okay that my emotions change constantly. It’s okay to let myself be myself. It’s okay to feel what I feel and then let it process through my body. I am not my emotions or my thoughts, and they do not have to control me.
I literally just learned this in the past few weeks. I’ve spent my entire life beating myself up or trying to pretend I’m someone I’m not, just so no one will judge me or think I can’t handle myself. It doesn’t help that as a woman, my emotions are so often dismissed as a symptom of my gender. It doesn’t help that men are taught from birth to suppress and hide their own emotions, and that they find those who express freely a threat to the very walls they’ve built so carefully for society’s sake.
I try to sit with this and accept it, but honestly, I’m angry and frustrated. This doesn’t have to be so difficult. We spend so much fucking time in our heads when we simply need to connect with our bodies. What a lovely world it would be if everyone, regardless of gender, regardless of race, regardless of ANYTHING, felt safe and supported to be themselves and feel everything that needs to be felt.
None of this should be as tough as we’ve made it.
So what if, today, you let yourself feel what you’re feeling in your body? What if, instead of pushing it away or using your brain to compensate, you just … feel … it. Whatever comes up, no matter how uncomfortable, no matter how unusual, no matter how it presents itself. What if you tell your brain to take a hike and stay with the emotions as long as you need?
It’s only scary because we’re not used to it. It’s only uncomfortable because we were never taught to truly embody ourselves.
Everything feels foreign and uncomfortable when it’s new to us. Don’t give up. You can do this. It’s so important and I truly believe that this simple pivot can change your life significantly.
I love you. Your feelings matter. Stick with it. Trust your body.