Why You Must Feel All Your Feelings To Transform Your Life

By Shreya Dalela

Let me start with an internal narrative that almost all of us experience sometime:

We sense an uncomfortable feeling arising inside us. As soon as we sense it, our mind starts weaving a story around that feeling — Why do I feel this way? I shouldn’t be feeling sad, fearful, anxious, {insert any uncomfortable feeling}.

Do you see what’s wrong with this narrative? As soon as we feel something that we’ve identified as ‘negative’ or ‘unpleasant’, we start trying to negate it or push it away. Hello, binge-watching on Netflix for hours! Take for instance the feeling of burnout or exhaustion:

“Many of us try to binge-watch our burnouts away, according to a study by YellowBrick. When surveying 2059 millennials, 16% chose to binge-watch a series on Netflix/Hulu to ease burnout. But that would be similar to replacing one poison with another. Binge-watching is terrible for your health.”Work-Life Balance Statistics 2021

If you’ve been there, I don’t blame you. Years and years of conditioning have made us habitual to invalidating our feelings. We might not even see anything wrong with it. But such a thinking pattern is harmful (and often leads to anxiety and depression). Now, the idea isn’t to become caught up in your feelings either. All you need to do is bring your awareness to them.

How can you tap into your feelings without feeling overwhelmed?

It might be difficult to implement at first, but one of the best ways that I’ve learned to deal with uncomfortable feelings is this: I start by simply acknowledging what I’m feeling. Just notice it without pressuring myself to express it, share it, or do something about it. Just be aware of it. This step in itself is so powerful because it makes me feel in charge of how I’m feeling. If I continue to feel intensely, I allow myself a physical outlet. If I am happy, I dance or hug the people I love. If I am angry, I go for a brisk walk or a run. If I am sad, I play sad songs and cry. If I am anxious, I write down my fears or do yoga with a set intention to calm down.

After that, I feel more centered and ready to process my feelings through journaling.

When I had started bullet journaling, I came across the concept of mood tracking which made me really curious. After exploring, I found out that tracking your moods is just one of the many ways of mood journaling.

 

What exactly is mood journaling?

Mood journaling is a journaling exercise to feel all your feelings. It brings clarity and awareness to improve your mental health. Not only this, it helps you observe any recurrent pattern, identifies triggers, and raise your energy levels.

Here’s a simple 4-step guide to mood journaling —

1. Start by asking yourself — what am I feeling?

For most of us, the vocabulary of our emotions is quite limited. For this reason, we struggle to label our feelings or put them into words. But it doesn’t have to be so difficult. I love this wheel of emotions and you can use the same when you struggle with answering the question — How/What am I feeling? Don’t worry about getting too specific. You will become more and more aware of your feelings as you build the habit of mood journaling. In the beginning, you can label the broad

2. Tell yourself — it’s okay to feel this way

When we deny what we feel, we only make the feeling more powerful. Instead of ignoring the feeling or shoving it down, try telling yourself this instead — It’s okay to feel this way. I accept this feeling. Just like all other feelings, this is also impermanent. Think of what you’ll say to comfort a friend who is in a similar situation. Try using the same dialogue to reassure yourself. A lot has been talked about self-care. However, along with self-care, you also need to practice self-compassion. Show yourself some kindness and remind yourself that it’s only human to feel the way you do.

3. Try to answer — what triggered me?

Often, triggers such as memories, experiences, or events spark intense feelings inside us. Trying to uncover the underlying reason behind those feelings is difficult. However, through journaling, you can learn to tune into yourself and become more aware of why you feel those feelings. Sometimes, it’s possible to identify the trigger through conversing about the situation with a therapist. Remember that the time you’re feeling too intensely isn’t the right time to understand your triggers. Give yourself time and space to feel calm. Only then try to explore the potential reasons behind your triggers. Also, remember that your triggers may not always be related to any past issues. Sometimes, even being tired and sleep-deprived can exacerbate bad feelings. If you want to understand how other aspects of your lifestyle influence your feelings and moods, you should try maintaining a sleep tracker. For women, maintaining a period tracker is also extremely helpful.

4. Conclude with — can I do anything about it?

Sometimes, what we feel points to a deeper need of ours that needs to be addressed or a problem that needs to be solved. In other cases, it’s simply a feeling that you need to fully experience and let go of. For instance, feeling anxious about your exam might point to a need for revision. On the other hand, the feeling of longingness for someone who is no longer there in your life anymore is sadly something you can’t do anything about. In the latter case, you need to fully feel and process all the sadness to let it go. Learning to feel your feelings, and to process them in a healthy manner takes a long time but it’s totally worth it. Approaching your feelings holistically sets you on a path of inner healing and expands your entire being. You begin to build a deeper and healthier relationship with yourself. And in the long term, that’s one of the best gifts you can give yourself

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