You have been lied to most of your life. In fact, most of us have.
We were told that the point to life is to figure out what ‘makes us happy’ and to do more / get more of that. But what if the point to life was just to be okay feeling whatever emotion was there in that present moment? What if you could literally stop chasing happiness as if there is a ‘there’ that is better than here.
The reason most of us have turned to food, alcohol, social media, Netflix, or any other instant gratification substance is because 1. we have never been taught how to actually just feel our emotions. and 2. we feel entitled to being able to feel good all of the time.
We believe that the minute we start feeling anything less than ‘good’ – we need to solve it. And because we cannot actually remove a feeling, we end up buffering away or just going unconscious with products or substances that give us a little ‘lift’ in the mood department. But there’s a downside to that. The actual crashing or coming off of that substance. Or when you pull yourself out of Facebook Land and you realize you’ve wasted 2 hours mindlessly scrolling. We go to bed over full, over buzzed, and feeling envious of Susan’s trip to Bora Bora that is in our Insta Stories. Only then to wake up sluggish from our food, foggy from our booze, and still replaying other people’s highlight reels in our minds.
That is the trade off though. You get that instant hit of ‘happy’ but the net consequence is negative. So what’s the solution? Well, based on our behavior… more of the same. Just a little more dessert tonight ‘because we deserve it’, just one more glass of wine ‘because work sucked’, and back to social media because our own family is boring and lifeless.
We believe that those ‘negative’ feelings are literally going to kill us – and the only solution is to eat something, drink something, watch something, or buy something. So we are all at unnatural weights for our bodies, over drinking, living vicariously through the lives in Netflix, and in massive debt.
There’s also the group of us that those negative feelings are so loud – that no matter how much we eat, drink, watch, or scroll – we can’t get relief, so we lash out. We scream at our kids because they haven’t cleaned their room yet, after being told 15 times. Our spouse doesn’t take out the trash, again, so we bite their head off. Our friends don’t behave the way we believe they should, so we gossip about them and hold grudges. All sound familiar? That was my life for the better half of my 32 years.
Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why we need to solve for feeling bored, sad, mad, or anxious? Why do we need to get rid of those feelings? Because they don’t feel good? But what doesn’t feel good about them? A feeling is a vibration in your body that is created by your thoughts. A simple vibration. It cannot hurt you. It cannot kill you, no matter how much your brain would like you to believe it can. Allowing it to be there and just being present with it literally has no negative consequence on your life like all of the buffers we turn to do. So what is it? Why are we all blindly running away or reacting to negative emotions.
Read the second sentence of this blog.
We are trying to get rid of it, because we believe we are entitled to feeling good all of the time. We believe that if we are feeling ‘bad’ something has gone wrong. We hear it all the time. ‘Think happy thoughts’, ‘Remove all ‘toxic people’ from your life’, ‘Good vibes only’, ‘If you’re feeling down – it makes others feel uncomfortable’ ‘This pill, patch, cream, DVD, drink, shake, etc will make you feel SO much better and be a better mom… for a low low price of $150/month.’
What if we just believed that as a human we will experience really amazing feelings 50% of the time and not so amazing feelings the other 50% of the time, and nothing has gone wrong? What if I told you that in order to truly know what the ‘good’ feels like – you have to know and understand what the contrast to that feels like? Have you ever asked yourself if there are times when a negative emotion is actually preferred?
Your mom dies.
I guarantee you that ‘joy’ and ‘good vibes’ will not be on the menu for that day. AND. THAT’S. OKAY.
What if you could respect and value what the negative feelings in your life are trying to teach you? Instead of immediately finding a way to escape those feelings – you could learn to just be with them. Imagine how much over eating, over drinking, over social media-ing, or over spending you could remove from your life if you just decided right now to sign up to be present for every single emotion as the human that you are.
What’s the downside? I bet you can’t find one that is worthwhile. Have you realized yet that you cannot out eat, drink, or spend your feelings? They are like toddlers. They simply want you to acknowledge they are there, give them a hug, and eventually they will go play somewhere else. When you ignore them they just get louder and more persistent. That feeling of anxiety you’ve been feeling for the last 3 years – yeah, how’s that Cabernet Sauvignon & cheesecake working for remedying it? Right.
Friends – until you allow your feelings to be there you have no authority over them. Which means you are at their mercy. And like I said above – because you are actively ignoring those toddlers – they are out for vengeance.
I invite you to spend 10 minutes with your negative feeling the next time it comes up. Without eating the Oreo, drinking the wine, buying the new shoes, yelling at your kids, or scrolling your Newsfeed. Just sit there. Name the emotion you’re feeling. Explain to yourself what it feels like. And watch it figure itself out.
It’s a beautiful thing.
I’d love to hear how it worked for you. Leave a comment below telling me all about it!