How To Feel Your Feelings

How to Feel Your Feelings: 15 Easy Ways To Embrace Them

Feelings. They crash over us like waves, carrying us from joyful crests to heart-wrenching depths. In their current, we discover parts of ourselves that we didn’t know existed. Yet for many of us, emotions can feel more like sharp reefs we desperately try to avoid, fearful of being pulled under or dashed against the rocks.

I understand the urge to escape what feels too vulnerable or overwhelming. But in my experience, when we stand in our truth and ride the waves of emotion with courage and self-compassion, they can take us to horizons we never imagined.

In this article, I’ll share 15 ways how to feel your feelings with mindfulness and grace. My hope is not to promise that “perfect emotional balance” marketed to us. No one escapes wipeouts on this wild ride. But to show you how bearing witness to your emotions, no matter how messy is the path to greater wisdom and freedom.

Why Your Feelings Matter

As a holistic coach, I want to underscore why fully feeling our emotions—even the uncomfortable ones—is so vitally important for our mental health journey.

Why Your Feelings Matter

Suppressing Difficult Feelings Causes Suffering

Many of us instinctively avoid or suppress uncomfortable feelings like sadness, anger, and loneliness. I certainly did for years. We distract ourselves, push the feelings down, or pretend they don’t exist. But this only causes more suffering by blocking our full emotional state.

Mindfully Facing Feelings Improves Wellbeing

Instead, when we take time to mindfully experience our full spectrum of emotions without judgment, amazing things start to happen. Tuning into the subtle physical sensations connected to feelings provides insight and a greater sense of our body’s messages. This awareness enables us to fully process long-stored negative emotions.

As we release these hurts, we start to feel lighter and make space for positive feelings like joy, gratitude, and inner peace. Our relationships improve as we begin to gain self-knowledge and empathy. Facing specific difficult feelings allows us to set empowered boundaries and show ourselves compassion.

Developing Emotional Awareness Takes Time

Of course, consistently sitting with discomfort and anxiety requires much courage and practice at first. I’ve seen in myself and my clients how tempting it is to avoid vulnerable emotions when they arise. But the more we embrace them, the more this muscle develops. Remain patient with yourself through it all—your emotions provide compass points guiding you to your unique truth. Sometimes we need to feel uncomfortable to grow and discover deeper layers of ourselves.

Getting Started: The Mindful Mindset Shift

If you’re like most, the idea of feeling emotions like grief, fear, or regret may seem scary or fruitless. I’ve been there. But having the right mindset makes all the difference. Here are perspectives that helped me embark on feeling my feelings fully:

Let go of judgments about emotions, especially the difficult ones. They are vital messengers from your wise self, not negatives to avoid. Easier said than done, I know!

Remember, feelings pass through you like waves – impermanent and ever-changing. They won’t drown you or define you permanently. Close your eyes and imagine feelings as gentle waves washing in and out…

Big Waves

Cultivate self-compassion as you tune into feelings. Talk to yourself as you would a dear friend. My mantra is “I’m here and I care.”

With this mindset, you’re ready to bravely embrace your full emotional experience.

Notice Your Feelings

Now let’s become attentive to the physical and emotional signals your body communicates. Ways to start tuning in:

Emotions Wheel

The Emotions Wheel, crafted by Dr. Gloria Willcox, is a powerful tool designed to give a clearer lens to our emotional landscape.

The Emotions Wheel by Dr. Gloria Willcox
Image Source: Positive Psychology

Think of it as this super insightful color wheel for your feelings. Right in the center, you’ve got those big, familiar emotions like joy, sadness, or anger. But as you move out from the center, things get interesting. Those basic emotions start to show their intricate shades and nuances.

Ever had one of those “I don’t know how I’m feeling” moments? We’ve all been there. That’s where this wheel becomes your emotional compass. You can spot that tricky, elusive emotion on the outer rims and trace it back to its big-picture root emotion in the center. It’s like having a decoder ring for all those complex feelings! Dive into this regularly, and you’ll be amazed at how much more in tune you become with every little emotional ripple.

Body Scans

Our body often knows things before our mind does. By doing regular body scans, you tune into the subtle signals it sends. Notice any physical sensations – be it warmth, tightness, or a flutter. As you engage with these sensations, also tap into the Emotions Wheel. It will help you identify and understand the associated feelings, bridging the gap between physical and emotional.

Identify Avoidance Patterns

Our psyche has its defense mechanisms, and one of the most common is to avoid or suppress emotions we deem uncomfortable. But avoidance only keeps us distant from understanding our true selves. The next time you feel angry or catch yourself shying away from a feeling, take a moment. Breathe. Then, consult the Emotions Wheel. What might seem like simple unease could be a complex emotion waiting to be understood.

Making Space For Feelings

To fully open to your emotions, especially intense ones, it helps to create space:

  • Schedule time where feeling takes priority—even 20 minutes can make a difference. Minimize distractions.
  • Create a soothing environment: light a candle, play soft music, and drink tea. Have a journal handy.

When you intentionally hold space, you allow whatever needs to emerge. With practice, tuning into your feelings gets easier. Know I’m here to support you in this journey.

15 Ways to Feel Your Feelings Mindfully

We often try to escape uncomfortable emotions like fear or sadness when they arise. Here are 15 ways to feel your feelings:

1. Stay Present With Your Feelings

You know that moment when you’re overwhelmed with emotion? It can be easy to want to run or hide. But here’s a fresh perspective: imagine your emotions as waves in the ocean. Instead of swimming against them, try floating with them.

1 Stay Present With Your Feelings

When an emotion hits, take a deep breath. Pause, and really sink into it. What’s it trying to tell you? By remaining present, you’re giving yourself the chance to truly understand and experience what’s going on inside you. And trust me, over time, the waves seem a lot less scary.

2. Affirm Your Emotions With Kind Words

Ever had a friend who always knows the right thing to say? Now, imagine that friend is you. Our emotions sometimes just need a bit of validation.

Try whispering, “It’s alright to feel this way” or “I’m listening to you, emotion.” or “My feelings provide important messages.” Affirmations prevent suppressing emotions and help you compassionately embrace your human experience. By affirming your feelings, you’re creating a supportive inner dialogue that can make navigating your emotions much smoother.

3. Set Aside Quality Time To Process Your Emotions

Think of emotions as old friends wanting to catch up. Dedicate at least 20 minutes daily for this reunion. Dive deep into a journal, meditate, or paint your feelings.

This is a ritual to process emotions and cultivate a profound understanding of your inner world. Over time, this practice becomes a sanctuary for self-reflection.

4. Drop The Resistance

Our first reaction to big, difficult emotions is often resistance, and our body reveals it—tightened shoulders, a clenched jaw, or a stiff posture.

Do a quick body check the next time emotions surge. Breathe deeply, and imagine every tensed part of your body relaxing. By allowing your body to soften, you give big emotions the room they need to be acknowledged and understood.

5. Your Body’s Speaking, Are You Listening?

Ever felt that flutter in your chest or a sudden warmth in your face? That’s your body amplifying your emotions through physical sensations. Instead of muting these signals, lean in.

5 Your Body Speaking Are You Listening

Why is there a knot in your stomach? What’s the story behind the trembling hands? Try to actively bring attention to these sensations, you can navigate the vast ocean of emotions with more clarity and insight.

6. Lean On Others For A Little Boost

Navigating emotions can sometimes feel like a maze of past experiences and intricate feelings. Ever found yourself lost or felt confused?

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Don’t hesitate to shout out for a little direction. Sharing your vulnerabilities with a close friend or family member and receiving their empathy is like having a compass on this journey. Their support might not only give you clarity but also reinforce that you’re not alone in this emotional adventure.

7. Don’t judge yourself for having feelings

Paying attention to your emotions? Kudos! But remember, feelings are just guests, neither good nor bad. They come, they stay, they leave. It’s so easy to tag them with labels or let past experiences color them.

But avoid getting trapped in the judgment spiral. Instead, give your body permission to just feel. When you replace judgment with curiosity, you open the door to emotional awareness and a deeper understanding of yourself.

8. Allow yourself to feel surprised

Think you’ve seen it all? Think again. Instead of leaning on assumptions, come with a beginner’s mind. Every emotion brings along its own entourage of physical sensations and thoughts. And sometimes, they might not be what you expect.

Allow yourself the joy of discovery. Notice the nuances, the tiny shifts in your body or mindset, and let the story unfold. It’s like rereading a favorite book and finding details you missed the first time.

9. Focus on helping others

When you focus on aiding those around you – be it friends, family, or even a stranger on the street – you’re not just offering a shoulder; you’re expanding your own emotional horizons.

By listening with an open heart, you can help someone else through their emotions and simultaneously grow in your understanding of the human experiment. It’s amazing how comforting others can bring out positive emotions in both of you!

10. Trust your inner wisdom

When you’re caught in the midst of a swirling emotion, it’s tempting to search outside yourself for clarity. But your inner wisdom already knows the way.

10 Trust your inner wisdom

Instead of relying on others, check in with your body, intuition, and senses. How does this emotion feel physically? What memories or images arise? Your feelings have their own logic, rhythm, and story. By tuning in, you can learn to navigate even the most puzzling emotions with self-trust.

11. Express feelings creatively

Ever tried painting your joy or dancing out your sadness? Expressing emotions through creative mediums offers a unique window to see and release them. As you express emotions, you’re not just letting them out but also bringing new understanding to the fore.

12. Practice mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness meditation is like sitting on a riverbank, watching your emotions flow by. By simply observing difficult emotions without judgment, you gain the power to navigate even the most challenging feelings. Sometimes, it’s about being present, not to change anything, but to bring kindness to whatever arises.

13. Do regular body scans

A daily body scan is like having coffee with yourself. How’s your shoulder doing today? What’s that tension in the leg about? As you zoom into various parts, you start connecting the dots between physical symptoms, sensations, and emotions.

It’s fascinating how a simple ache can tell tales of emotions we didn’t even realize we were holding onto.

14. Keep a journal

Keeping an emotions journal is like having a heartfelt conversation with your future self. Scribble down your feelings, the physical twinges, the triggers, and over time, watch your emotional map unfold. You might be surprised at patterns and how some things that made you feel worse initially led to growth.

15. Create a soothing environment

Imagine walking into a room that just gets you. A place where you can wrap yourself in a blanket of calm and open up to the full spectrum of your emotions.

15 Create a soothing environment

Adorn your space with soft lights, soothing colors, and comforting textures. Light a candle, sway to mellow tunes, and let yourself sink into the richness of feeling your feelings.

Remember, every emotion, be it a sad, fleeting whisper or a roaring thunder, is a chapter in your unique story. Embrace it, express it, and most importantly, live it with authenticity.

Closing Thoughts

As the ocean waves ebb and flow, so do the currents of our ever-changing emotions. By riding their tides mindfully through these 15 practices, you can dive deep into self-discovery and emerge wiser, more compassionate, and attuned to your inner truths.

Remember to be patient and non-judgemental with yourself along the journey. Your feelings are guideposts illuminating your one-of-a-kind path. Keep following where they lead with authenticity and courage.

How do I start feeling my feelings?

Begin by acknowledging each emotion as it arises. Create moments of stillness daily to check in with your emotional state.

What does feel your feelings mean?

It refers to genuinely experiencing and acknowledging one’s emotions. Instead of suppressing or avoiding them, one allows themselves to sit with the emotion.

Should you be able to feel your feelings?

Yes, feeling your emotions is vital for mental well-being. Avoiding or suppressing emotions can lead to bigger mental health challenges.

How do you feel feelings and not intellectualize?

Engage with your emotions directly without overthinking or analyzing them. Mindfulness practices can help in experiencing emotions as they are without excessive judgment.