How did you feel when you woke up this morning? How about during the rest of the day? How will you feel before you go to bed? It’s impossible to give the same answer to all these questions. Sometimes, and often for no reason, we don’t feel what people expect us to feel–or, more importantly, what we expect ourselves to feel. How does it affect you when your feelings and expectations are not in line with each other?
Are you afraid of ‘bringing people down’ when you tell them that you’re not feeling great? Do you feel guilty or anxious that you might make them feel bad by sharing your feelings? Most importantly, do you think that the challenging feelings will ‘go away’, and you will feel better if you just tell yourself that everything is fine?
Maybe you have these thoughts, or many more. Notice that none of these thoughts has an actual effect on your emotions. Emotions are always there. What matters is how you actually feel about a situation, not what you should feel about it. There is no such thing as a ‘bad’ feeling. If you feel something, then it is real. Trying to avoid it, being out of touch with your emotions, or thinking that you should feel good all the time just makes you suffer more, and prevents you from understanding and expressing yourself.
Letting yourself feel your emotions is just as important as any other basic need. Remember, you are not just a body; your body is whole together with your mind and emotions. Your soul may not feel well one day, just like your body may catch a flu and get sick. Do you get angry at your arm if it aches? When you have a headache, do you say to yourself: “Why are you aching? No, you are not actually aching and you are just fine.” Or else do you try to understand why you have a headache and find the best way to treat it?
Just like all other living creatures, we too are dualistic beings. Remember that we feel more at peace when we find balance between these dualities. We can only achieve this peace if we embrace our difficult emotions the same way as we embrace emotions that bring us joy.
Does a part of you feel that it is ‘wrong’ to feel tired, mad, anxious, hurt or angry?
Sometimes we try to ignore these feelings, or label them as negative. We think that if we ignore them and shut our minds to them, they will disappear. But the opposite is true: the more we lose touch with these emotions, the more our unease grows. It is not natural to always feel good, so you can feel uneasy if you force yourself to think that you should.
Your emotions may seem like a Pandora’s Box that you’re afraid to open. So, you may try to always feel good, think positively, and not leave space for any negative feelings. Yes, you may experience challenging emotions you do not want to feel. However, don’t forget that these emotions are always there, even if you try to ignore them. Hence, you can only find relief if you try to understand and name them.
When you stop pushing your limits, and choose to accept all your emotions and states, you will realize that thinking that you have to feel good all the time is actually a burden. Don’t try to find a reason behind your negative feelings. There may not always be a reason you can understand at the moment, so just observe and notice them. You may not be all right, you may feel angry, tired, mad or exhausted. Not feeling good all the time is very natural and a part of your existence.
Not understanding your feelings can make you feel uncomfortable. While trying to cope up with this unease, you may have a tendency to sweep everything under the carpet, and tell yourself that you are fine. Don’t push yourself to try to understand why you feel uneasy: the feeling is there and belongs to you. Know that you have a right to feel bad and remind yourself of this.
Observe how much effort it takes to try to always feel good. You do not have to feel good for anybody. You can share your challenging emotions with others. For example, you don’t have to seem like you feel fine for your children, if you have them. Children want parents who can explore all their emotions and are able to express them because they are real. When you don’t feel well, if you don’t share this with the people around you (who may make you feel guilty) you will find everything even more tiring. Observe your relationship with your partner, if you have one. Your partner accepts all your states, as long as you accept and express your feelings.
Bear in mind that everybody feels off from time to time. You may not always be able to take care of yourself, and this is very human. You may think you need to immediately understand your emotions, but in fact emotions that are understood in time are more precious. Being compassionate about time, yourself and your own timing will enhance your emotional resilience. When you face difficult emotions or feel that something is missing, you can make some time for yourself to understand them. Owning all your emotions will open a door for you to better understand precious emotions and embrace them with care.
Sometimes, it is difficult to preserve the balance between challenging and joyful emotions. When you are having difficulty, you can share this with others. Perhaps you think that they will worry about you or change their opinion of you. However, remember that we all have difficult times. The only difference is that some of us experience difficult emotions more often, more intensely and more obviously. In fact, if we could all ask for support when needed, it would be easier for all of us to go through difficult times. We all need support. Don’t be afraid to show your vulnerabilities to the people you love; they can be much stronger than you think. And if you need it, seek professional support. You can check the professional services available in your city, and get professional help when you need to talk with someone or seek the advice of a professional.
Written by: Cansu Yavuzoğlu
Translated by: Tuygun Oruç