Drop The Story, Kick The Labels: You Are Not Your Feelings

First, a little back story: I've always been a seeker. For as long as I can remember, I've been wildly curious about what makes us tick. The fascination that each and every human, as random as they seem, are all living a life as vivid and complex as my own, complete with their own elaborate and complicated pasts. Their own desires, hopes, dreams. Over the past few years, the focus has shifted from being centred around what's happening around me, to what's happening within me.

Why do I do what I do? Why do certain things interest me while others do? Why do I react the way I do? Why do certain words/ beliefs/ stories resonate while others just don't click?

It's been a process. I've learnt (and am still learning) to be okay with being uncomfortable. To sit with my emotions, good or bad. To knock away my tendency to carefully smooth things over in hopes of keeping the peace. To plunge right in rather than simply dipping in my toes. To inspire radical transformation.

Last week I had an incredibly intense experience that brought up a lot of emotion. Out of it, came a herd of questions, conscious contemplation, and a yearning to go deeper. I felt tears well up in my eyes, and as they ran down my cheeks, more questions popped up.

What's wrong with me? Why do I feel this way? Almost immediately, stories danced around my mind as I tried to fully grasp what the emotional trigger was. Instead of sitting with the emotion, accepting it as it was, I was picking it apart and trying to make sense out of it. I feel this way because... blah, blah, blah.

So, what's the problem?

When we dive into the story of 'why', we become stuck. The deeper we replay the story the more likely we're left feeling even more sad, anxious, angry, or even hopeless than when we began. Cue the snowball effect.

Getting sucked into our story is a slippery slope that hands the reins to our inner critic. On the other end of the spectrum, suppressing our emotions isn't the answer either. One way or another, they'll always bubble up to the surface.

You are not your story. You are not your feelings.

Once we become attached to our stories, they lead us to believe that they define who we are. They don't. You are you, not the past. Not your mistakes, screw-ups, or failures. Our logical mind tries to stick labels on them and sort them into perfectly organized boxes, limiting ourselves. We can be stuck in our stories, replaying them on a loop, over and over again. Feeling hurt/ pain/ negativity, over and over again.

Feelings are just energy moving around in your body. Sometimes those feelings need a release. That is all. So, what did I do? 

Instead of pushing my feelings away, or trying to understand the logic in them, I accepted them as they were.

I sat with the emotion in my body, breathed into it, and reaffirmed, "I am not my feelings, this is simply energy needing to be released." And it did. Instead of being dragged through an unnecessary story, I let the emotion pass through my body and in the end, felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders.

Sometimes it takes more energy to resist our feelings than to actually feel them. Sometimes it feels like our emotions might actually swallow us up whole. Sometimes the scariest thing we can do is face what's stirring around inside of us. Your mind will create stories to keep you in that place, don't buy into it.

Don't be scared of your emotions. Don't label your feelings as good or bad, just let them be. Resist the desire to control, manipulate, and dissect. Trust that the feeling will pass.

A 'Q' FOR YOU: How do you usually handle strong emotions when they crop up? Do you replay a story trying to understand the 'why', suppress your feelings, or accept them for what they are? I'd love for you to share with me in the comments x

Image via IHeartInspiration

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