A lot of times, we assume that feeling bad is, well, bad. That being angry, lonely, sad, disappointed, resentful, and the link is something to be avoided.
So, when those feelings rise up, like when children test your patience or a friend lets you down, we try to sweep our negative emotions under the psychological rug. We try not to notice them and definitely not feel them. They're too big. Often too scary. Too much to handle.
We say things like, "I shouldn't feel this way." "I'm making a big deal out of nothing." "I'm overreacting, as usual."
But feelings that are pushed down and covered up don't go away. Like guests who have outstayed their welcome, they're loud, irritating, and in the way, affecting every bit of your daily routine.
What would it be like to befriend your "bad" feelings? Maybe the feelings that get us riled up or battened down aren't bad at all. Maybe they're simply moody friends passing through.
By sitting with our feelings and noticing that resentment is here or anger is definitely in the room, we acknowledge our emotions. When we take time to be present with what is - not by picking a fight with a loved one or complaining to a friend - simply by sitting with the discomfort, we can notice and name the feelings without a story: "I'm feeling sad," "I'm lonely," "I'm really mad right now."
Then, like a friend sitting next to you on the couch, you can sweetly say, "Of course you're feeling sad." "It's fine to feel lonely." "Anger can be a sign that your boundaries are being crossed."
Sometimes, it helps to be creative with our feelings. Artists, musicians, dancers, and other creative folk entwine emotions into their work, creating art that connects us all.
You, too, can link your sorrow, fear, disappointment, even anger to your own art. Whether it's a scribbled entry in your journal, fingerpainting beside your toddler, or a freeform dance in your living room, you can use whatever art is available to be with what hurts, stand next to what disappoints, and put your arms around what doesn't feel good at all.
Then, once you and your emotions have had a little chat - or enjoyed a soul-clearing dance party - you can let your feelings go. Acknowledged and accepted, your moody friend can find their way out the door and be on their way.
And you can be at home with yourself again.
I'm a mother of two incredible boys, wife to Bill White of Happy Baby Signs, author of the books The Well-Crafted Mom and Signs of a Happy Baby, and an intuitive life coach. I like to blog about my adventures with my family and the life lessons I'm learning along the way. I hope you'll join me on this journey.
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