When I first started this journey, I often got confused when I heard the phrase “feel your emotions”. I’d read about this concept or stumble across the advice, and my first thought was always, “That sounds great, but HOW are you supposed to do that? What does it involve? Are there instructions I can follow?” (That’s my Type A perfectionist brain wanting a plan 🙂 ).
So what DOES it actually look like to feel your feelings?
I want to share an example with you about putting the whole “feel (and don’t eat) your emotions” into practice (because none of this stuff actually WORKS unless we put it into practice) to help you see how it looks in real life 🙂
About 6 weeks ago I moved from Denver to Fort Collins (in Colorado). They’re about an hour and 15 minutes apart. Although it wasn’t a big cross country move, it brought new challenges that I hadn’t anticipated…
Right after moving, my fiancé and I went on a long weekend getaway to California. Then a few weeks ago I was home in Philly visiting family.
So last week was the first week I was truly home.
I felt the reality of this move hit me…there were no more upcoming vacation distractions, anticipating travel plans, settling in from moving, or running errands for the house. It was me facing the reality that I now live in Fort Collins.
(**Full disclosure. This wasn’t a move I was dying to make. I absolutely love Denver and its surrounding areas. I spent over 5 years there and it felt like home. But I knew I wanted to be with Aaron, and his job is located in Fort Collins. Thus, the move 🙂 )
When the distractions fell away, the feelings came crashing down on me at once.
I felt lonely.
Now, I’m familiar with loneliness. I’ve lived in both Thailand and Ecuador for a year. I moved cross country barely knowing a soul almost 6 years ago. So I’ve lived through experiences where I felt soul-achingly lonely before. (I mean, living in a foreign country and not speaking the language was a HUGE lesson in getting through loneliness!)
I missed the people who I met up for coffee with on a regular basis. I missed being able to have dinner with the friends I made. I missed the deep soul connections I had with a few amazing friends.
The loneliness was compounded by the fact that I work from home. I could always find someone to meet up with me in Denver. I don’t have that yet in Fort Collins.
It felt lonely to be in a new city again. Even though I’m familiar with the town, it wasn’t my home. I didn’t have activities I was involved in, friends I met up with or my “soul sisters”.
When feeling lonely in 10 years ago, the “old me” would have turned to food. (And believe me, there are times when I wish a cookie sandwich with icing in the middle would make all of my feelings go away!).
And I definitely was tempted this last week. I mean…fudge can seem like just the remedy when feeling lonely (or sad, angry, anxious, etc).
But I’ve experienced enough binges to know it’s not a solution.
So what did it actually look like to feel my feelings (without using food)?
Tears have always been a way for me to release emotion and pent up energy. So I cried. A lot. I let myself cry. And cry again if I needed to. (I always tell my clients to “let the tears out”! It’s such a great release 🙂 )
Journaling helps me take the jumble of thoughts in my mind and make some sense of them. I journaled to get all of the “what if” thoughts out of my head, all of the sadness out, and put it down on paper.
I reconnected with the people I DO have in my life.
When I feel the loneliest, I remember that I have so many people who love me. I call my sisters and bug them to chat with my nieces and nephews. I try to schedule coffee dates and get out of the house. I plan more time with my fiancé. I take my dog for walks (does she count as a person?). I remind myself that “this too shall pass”. I’ve lived through loneliness many times before and I know I’ll come out the other side.
I “forced” myself to talk.
I realize how much I need social interaction since I work from home. I’m not the type of person to stay after a yoga or a gym class to chat with people. But since these are two activities I enjoy doing, I really made an effort to be more friendly and connect casually with those who are in my classes.
I’ve been trying to accept more social invitations (I’m a homebody and going out isn’t my first choice 😉 ) and be open to meeting new people. (I also hate small talk, so I am working on being present in situations with people and allowing myself to form connections). I realize if I stay open to connecting with someone, I never know where that interaction may take me 🙂
I let myself be uncomfortable.
This is the biggest one of all when it comes to feeling your feelings. Feeling lonely sucks. I hate it. I want it all to be fixed immediately and not feel the discomfort. For so many years, food was my escape; my way to not feel what I felt.
And so when I do feel intense feelings, I sometimes wish a big ice cream sundae would take away the loneliness. But I know it doesn’t. And so I feel it. I let the discomfort be there. Yes, of course I try to take action to feel better, but I also let it run its course.
The thing with loneliness that I’ve experienced is that it doesn’t often resolve itself in a day. With most emotions, they may need space to pass on through. I’m a person who craves close and deep connection with others (especially female friends!) and I know that doesn’t happen overnight.
So I give myself FULL permission to feel the feeling and do whatever it is I need to do without turning to food.
I also remember it’s a work in progress. I absolutely LOVE living with Aaron and being able to be together (and not commuting back and forth in crazy Colorado traffic every weekend). There are so many positives to my move and I work to allow for the ups and downs, the good and bad.
It’s Your Turn!
I’d love to hear from you. How do you feel YOUR feelings? (Or how do you want to do it since we are all a work in progress 😉 ). Can you add anything else to the list? Comment below 🙂