PODCAST EPISODE 9: Feelings and the Four
I’m Hannah Coles and you are listening to LOVE AT HOME, episode number 9: Feelings and the Four
Hello my podcast friends! What a week! We’re back in school, getting into the groove of the schedule and trying to fit all the puzzle pieces just so. I think we’re doing okay this week thus far! Hopefully we can keep this momentum up!
Okay, this week I’m bringing you a big one. We’re talking about feelings today. My mission is to help families – namely parents and teens to connect more with one another but to do that we have to start with each individual because you all are the catalyst in your own lives to creating the change you want – connection, understanding, and love – they all start with you.
I want to help you both realize that you have way more in common than you have in differences, especially when it comes to our minds and learning to manage our minds, which in turn, manages your whole life and this episode today is no different. We all feel all the feels and struggle with all the feels so I hope this episode gives you some common ground together so you can talk about it, understand more about what’s happening for you and for your loved ones.
In episode 7 I talked about opposition in all things and why it’s okay, normal, and why you even want to feel negative emotions sometimes but today, I’m diving deep into feelings and more importantly HOW to feel all the feels. There’s FOUR options you can take when it comes to feeling all the feels and I’ll walk you through those in just a bit.
I remember hearing a lot of things like, “just feel your feelings” And I had no idea what that meant or how to do it – I kind of thought I was feeling them. And that blanket saying of just feel them – it was the equivalent of those sayings like, “let it go” …I so want to break off in song, don’t you? That phrase has now been taken over by Disney.
But feel the feelings and let it go have no meaning if you don’t know HOW to do it. Today, I’m going to teach you HOW, I’m going to give you that missing link so to speak about HOW to feel what’s coming up for you and to recognize what you’re probably doing instead of feeling them.
This is such a big topic because we’re constantly feeling things all day. But we rarely tune in to what we’re feeling so when something isn’t sitting right it’s hard to pinpoint what that feeling even is. This is also a big topic because parents and teens process information differently. Adults primarily operate from their pre-frontal cortex, their “higher” brain. One that can make rational decisions and calculate outcomes. Teens are operating primarily from their amygdala, the feeling center of the brain. Their brains are undergoing a huge “pruning” and development all through their teen years and into their early 20’s so if you’ve ever wondered why teens tend to be more impulsive and concentrated with their feelings, this is one reason why, then throw in physical growth and hormones and it’s quite the party.
So teaching both of you HOW to feel your feelings will be super beneficial and will help you understand what’s going on, why things are happening, that it’s okay, and that there is nothing wrong with you. I’m going to talk about our amazing brains on another episode but for now let’s dive in.
It’s important to talk about our feelings because our feelings determine what we’ll do, how we’ll act, what actions we take next. If I’m feeling sad I’m more than likely going to want to crawl into bed. I’m going to retreat. I’m not going to pick up the phone and want to talk to anyone. I’m going to hide instead. Think about it, when you’re sad what do you do? What about Christmas morning? You’re feeling excited. You want to jump out of bed and get things rolling, right?
Too often we’re taught not to feel our feelings, not to talk about our feelings but this is such a huge disservice to yourself and others. If you want to know why you did what you did or why your teen did what they did you can always go back a step and ask them what they were FEELING. You’ll see that it fits every-time.
When my kids react and yell at their siblings it’s because they felt mad. Which you can also take it back one more step because we’ve already learned and talked about this: THOUGHTS create how we FEEL. So one step at a time, you can go back and see this all in action. Their actions were caused by their feelings which were generated by the thoughts they were thinking.
They’re pretty private about their rooms and they don’t like their siblings entering without permission. This is a big thing in a lot of families.
Sometimes I’ll be downstairs and hear yelling. The action: yelling – so I’ll go up and see what’s going on and the yeller is mad. They’re mad because their thought is, “They shouldn’t have come in my room. They need to leave right now.” During these moments I don’t tell them to STOP feeling what they’re feeling. This is a huge mistake we all make. We think we shouldn’t feel angry, mad, or negativity. Also, telling ourselves and our teens they shouldn’t feel something doesn’t make the feeling go away. They’re still feeling it. What you really want is for them to stop reacting, to stop yelling and THAT you can absolutely address.
I always tell them that they’re allowed to feel however they want to and need to feel but inside our house we have rules and yelling isn’t appropriate. If you want to yell, scream, or be extra loud and vocal, great – go out of ears reach and scream your head off. But inside, totally not okay. They usually stop then anyway because who wants to walk a mile to scream really? Or even scream into your pillow and relieve some of that excess fast energy but again, out of ears reach.
Feeling what we need and even WANT to feel is okay. There’s nothing wrong with feelings. They’re an essential and necessary part of our human experience. Stop trying to ignore, suppress, or resist them and please stop teaching others to do the same.
Okay, let’s talk about this, what is a feeling anyway? Have you ever stopped to think about what that is? When you’re happy, what is that feeling? What about when you’re sad? What is that feeling? They’re both feelings. So what is it? How could you describe it?
A feeling is just a vibration in your body. That’s it. The vibration can be felt in different areas of your body depending on what feeling you’re experiencing and it can be different for each person too. When I’m angry I feel hot, I feel the vibration in my head and in my chest. It feels fast like you’re about to explode. But when I’m sad I feel it in my throat, also in the pit of my stomach. It feels very slow and dragging.
Think about this. What are you feeling right now? Can you name it? Spend a moment with it. Where are you feeling it? Do a quick scan of your body. Where are you feeling the vibration? What does it feel like? Is it hot, cold, warm, neutral? Is it fast, slow, average?
Feelings are just vibrations. They’re nothing other than that. Most of the pain that we think comes from these feelings is only our resistance to them. WE create the pain, not the feelings themselves, by our thoughts about our feelings. We fear what sadness feels like so we suppress it and ignore it and try to avoid it instead of just letting it run it’s course through your body.
Listen to this, Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, a neuroanatomist that taught at Harvard for years, teaches that it only takes 90 seconds for the feeling to run it’s course through your body. That’s it, just 90 seconds. You have a thought that triggers this feeling, which then chemicals and this vibration is released from your brain and then runs it’s course through your body for 90 seconds. Are you willing to feel what you need to feel for 90 seconds?
You could set a timer and sit in silence for 90 seconds observing this feeling through your body. In fact, you should totally try this. The next time you feel a negative feeling set a timer for 90 seconds and don’t do anything other than observe what’s happening in your body. It’s fascinating.
Okay, so if it’s only 90 seconds why do people seem to feel angry or sad for much longer? Years even? This is also interesting because the course doesn’t change – it’s still 90 seconds but they’re just starting the cycle over again with another thought about it. They’re re-triggering the cycle to start over and again another 90 second cycle has begun.
So this is interesting because I encourage my clients, my kids, myself to feel the feeling. To observe it, to ask those questions I started asking you earlier,
Where do you feel it?
What does it feel like?
Is it fast?
Is it slow?
Does it feel heavy or light?
Describe it in as much detail as you can without using words like, bad or good.
Describe it factually as if you were telling someone who had no comprehension of feelings. It doesn’t know what good or bad is so you need to describe it factually. I feel a weight or pressure on my chest. I feel things circulating in my stomach. I feel a fast vibration. Things like this. The more you can describe it the more you’re creating distance between it and the more power and control you’ll discover you have over it. You’ll also realize and experience that it wasn’t that bad or scary after all as well.
We spend so much time creating these elaborate stories about the feeling that it’s more the story causing pain and suffering than the actual feeling itself. For example, we fear the pain of crying and being sad so we hold our breath, we clench and tighten up our muscles. We tense every area of our bodies because we don’t want to cry. We don’t want to feel sad but now we’ve created this accentuated, exaggerated feeling which is way worse than just sitting with sadness. Do you really know what sadness feels like in your body?
Next time this comes up just sit with it. The first thing you’re going to want to do is NAME it. This is first and foremost. Ask yourself, What am I feeling?
Be specific too. At first my clients, mostly my teen clients say things like, “bad” or I feel “good” or I feel “upset” what do those even mean? For someone they could be upset because someone ran into their car and that upset looks more like mad or they could be upset because their boyfriend just broke up with them and then that upset looks more like sadness. Upset is a blanket word and it’s a cover for a lot of different feelings so name it specifically. Try on a few feelings: is it sad? No, I’m not sad. Is it hurt? offended? betrayed? Try on lots of words until you can pinpoint what it is you’re feeling exactly. Also a word about that upset – in both cases they wouldn’t have felt anything because of the circumstances but really by their thoughts that created it. Just didn’t want to confuse any of you out there because the circumstances don’t ever create our feelings…ever. Only our thoughts do that.
So the first step is just to name it – don’t try to change it yet. We have a tendency to do this. We don’t want to feel certain things so we want to rush and think new thoughts so we can feel happy again and this is a huge disservice to yourself. We’re supposed to feel all the feelings and when we do we give ourselves this rare opportunity to learn something new about ourselves. Stay with the feeling. Name it, describe it, allow it to be there without judgement.
This is huge because I know that I struggled with this for a long time. Any time I’d start to feel a negative emotion I’d layer on guilt because I shouldn’t be feeling negatively . I should be happy all the time and grateful so I’d try to pretend and feel happy and plaster on a smile but really all I was doing was putting a bandaid on over a wound that needed attention. The wound is still there, I’m still feeling the pain. The bandaid just temporarily covered it.
So name it, describe it, allow it to be there judgement free. You may want to say something like this to yourself:
I’m feeling anxiety right now and that’s okay. Where am I’m feeling it? Then describe it to yourself in as much detail as possible. Breathe into it. Nothing is wrong. Nothing needs to be changed. Just allow it to run its course.
Then tell yourself, I can do anxiety. Totally not a problem. The problem comes when we label it as a problem. When we tell ourselves something is a problem our amazingly efficient brain is going to go to work protecting ourselves, tightening up and giving you all kinds of evidence of why this is a bad idea to feel it and what might happen if you allow it but most of those reasons are going to be invalid and ridiculous. So tell yourself, it’s NOT a problem to feel this.
I can totally feel this vibration in my body. It’s just that. A vibration in my body. Don’t resist, don’t run, don’t mask it. Just sit with it. Talk to even, this helps sometimes too. “Hey Anxiety. I feel you. I know you’re there and it’s okay. You can hang out with me today.” And then let it stay as long as it needs to.
I love singing and performing but what’s interesting is that I still get nervous each time I sing in front of a group. The last time I sang I was feeling nervous and a lot of anxiety was popping up so I just sat there and took deep breathes while naming it, describing it, breathing into the feeling, allowing it to be there. I’m feeling anxious and it’s okay. I’m feeling anxious and there’s nothing wrong with this. It’s just a vibration in my body. I can do anxiety.
What’s even more interesting about this is that anxiety and excitement have a very similar vibration and can easily turn from one to the other. So I really was excited but some of my thoughts would tip it to anxiety and I knew that all I had to do was be willing to feel it and realize there’s nothing to be afraid of and slowly the excitement crept back in so when I sang all I felt was excitement and gratitude.
The next thing you’ll want to do after feeling it and realizing it’s not so bad is to tell yourself this: I’m feeling __________ (insert your feeling there), like, I’m feeling anxious because of a sentence in my mind. When I was feeling anxiety for singing it was because I had thoughts like, “What if I mess up? What if it sounds bad? What if everyone hates it? These sentences in my mind, these thoughts created anxiety and fear.
Also, whenever your thoughts are actually questions, answer them. We tend to leave it hanging there and hold onto these questions like they’re the question and answer together or that the answer would be even more terrible so we don’t want to answer them. Do yourself a HUGE favor and answer them.
What if I mess up? What if that happens? What then?
Well, then I mess up. People aren’t really going to care. They’ll probably forget about it in a few hours anyway. Not a big deal.
What if it sounds bad? Again…who cares? Sounds bad is subjective anyway. It’s a preference, and opinion. To some people they don’t like Clien Dion and others adore her. It’s preference. Just decide that you love you no matter what. Do you like how you sound? Then own it. I’m pretty sure Heavenly Father loves your voice. It’s not going to sound bad to Him.
When you answer your questions it takes the fear out of it. The fear is what accentuates the feeling and amplifies and also distorts it. When I was willing to just sit with anxiety it wasn’t really scary anymore. It was just a vibration in my body caused by a thought in MY MIND. That’s it. Totally not a problem.
**Okay, now I’m going to walk you through the four things you can do with your feelings. This is really important to know so you can recognize what you’re doing and decide what you want to do and if it’s going to help you progress or just create more havoc for you.
Heres the four options: REACT to it. You can RESIST it. You can AVOID it or you can ALLOW it. We want to get to allowing the emotions but so many of us have created patterns doing one of the other three things for so long that it’s important to spend some time discovering what you do with your feelings.
I have a quick side note: EMOTIONS are different from FEELINGS. Emotions are few and they’re created in the BODY and THEN they go up to the brain. For example, if someone jumps out at me from behind a bush I’m not going to have a thought about that like, “hmm…this looks dangerous. I should be scared.” No, your fight or flight kicks in and tells you react, run, scream, whatever it is and then you have thoughts about it after that reaction. FEELINGS on the other hand are created in the MIND by your thoughts and then they go to the body. Sometimes I interchange these words but it’s important for you to know the difference between the two.
So the four things you can do with a feeling: REACTING. Reacting is basically acting out the feeling. If I’m feeling angry I’m going to do something visual or audible. Like acting, people can’t read my mind so in a play the character would have to act out feeling angry. They might yell, kick the wall, throw their hands up. Reacting is visual or audible, people can see it. It’s acting out the feeling.
If you picture yourself in a pool and there’s a beach ball next to you. The beach ball being the feeling. If you’re reacting to the feeling it’d be like you picking up the ball and throwing it as high and as far as it could go. Everyone can see it. They all know you’re angry. Tantrums, totally reacting to the feeling.
Okay, the next is Resisting your feelings. Most people resist. This is where you know you’re feeling something but you don’t want to feel it so you just suppress it, you push it away, you have this inner battle with it – I’m not feeling that right now, and keep trying to move along your day but that resistance is taking quite about of energy out of you.
So picture yourself back in the pool with that ball and this time instead of throwing it you try and hold the giant ball under the water. What happens when you try and hold a ball under water? One, it expends a lot of energy and focus trying to keep it there and eventually the ball surfaces but when it does it violently resurfaces, it explodes!
I’m sure each one of us has experienced this. You’re feeling tense and trying to just keep moving and then someone does one little thing and whoa nelly…the explosion. It wasn’t the little thing that made that reaction but the constant resistance to just feeling what you were resisting in the first place. If you just allowed yourself to feel it in the first place there wouldn’t have been any build up. There wouldn’t be any momentum for an explosion.
A little over a month ago I had this resisting experience. My family and I have been helping out with the Spanish congregation for a bit and they asked my husband and I if we would speak the following week…in Spanish. I don’t speak Spanish. I can understand enough but speaking is a whole new ballgame. We agreed and in my mind I thought I had plenty of time to write it out, google translate it all, and rehearse it before Sunday. Well, as things tend to go it was a full week and I was going to be out of town too. So I wrote out my talk and didn’t think I’d have enough time to google translate it and double check it so I just decided to hire someone to translate it for me then all I’d have to do is rehearse it while I was on my trip.
Only that person couldn’t open my file and it was saved on my desktop so I didn’t have any access to it while I was gone. Anyway, I didn’t get it translated until 8:00 the night before Sunday. All through the week I had feelings building up of anxiety, insecurity because I don’t speak it, what if it sounds bad? What if I embarrass myself? What if I don’t make any sense and no one can understand me? What if I don’t get it done in time? All those questions – did I answer them? No. I was too busy! So I resisted them. I just held them under the surface so I could do other things.
Then that night at 8:00 I sit down with my husband who speaks Spanish fluently and beautifully and asked for help. I had the translated file so all I needed was help on pronunciation. I didn’t think it was going to be THAT bad but every other word, sometimes every word he had something to say to help me but at that moment I was losing my grip on my ball. It totally erupted and I was a mess of tears, like the ugly tears and hyperventilating. I can’t even remember the last time I felt this way and it was all because I had tried resisting them all week.
Bad, bad, bad idea. All week I felt the underlying feelings of anxiety and those sentences creating it. I was causing myself suffering and pain ALL WEEK because I didn’t just take 10 minutes or less to deliberately feel it.
We do this more often than we realize. It wasn’t my husband that created my meltdown. He was just the last piece before I lost all control over my beach ball until it erupted. My poor husband. So confused and feeling terrible that he somehow contributed to my meltdown. Totally not him. Nothing to do with him. All me and the sentences in my mind and the build up of resistance I’d been creating all week long.
This is a terrible idea btw…Resisting feelings is not your friend. Reacting to your feelings is not your friend. The next one, AVOIDING, is not your friend either. Let me tell you why:
Avoiding is simply that. Not resisting or suppressing but totally avoiding your feelings instead. This one is where we replace it with something else. You pretend it’s not there. It’s when you find something else to replace how you’re feeling. Like, I’m NOT feeling anxiety right now and I think I’ll go make some cookies right now. Sugar is good, sugar is my friend, sugar understands. Hence, emotional eating. It takes you to an entirely different place, a different feeling, and a temporarily different outcome. The problem here is that you’re doing something called buffering. I’m only going to briefly touch on this because I have a whole episode on this one for you coming up.
This is when you don’t want to feel what you’re feeling so you buffer instead. You do something else to create a quick dopamine hit to feel better but it’s only fleeting because sugar really isn’t good for you, it doesn’t understand, it is not your friend and it’s going to give you a negative result in the end. If I’m constantly avoiding and eating sugar instead I’m going to gain weight.
If I avoid by going shopping instead then I’m going to be out of money or rack up debt. It feels good in the moment, temporarily but the results aren’t what you want.
So put yourself back in the pool with your beach ball only this time you’re not allowing yourself to even acknowledge there’s a ball in the water. You just keep turning, avoiding, and pretending you don’t see it. You swim away from it. You turn your head so you can’t see it but really deep down, you know it’s there only now you’re just exhausted mentally and physically because of how much effort you put into avoiding it in the first place.
The last thing you can do and this is the most beneficial is to just allow it. Allow and accept what you’re feeling. This is when you’re in the pool and you just stand still watching the beach ball float on the surface. It might come close to you, it might brush up against your arm but then it floats away. You’re not arguing that it’s there you just see it, acknowledge it, and let it stay.
This is what we talked a lot about in the beginning. Naming it, describing it, letting it run it’s course, allowing it without judgement. Realizing that YOU’RE creating it again without judgement and without wanting it to be anything other than what it is as the moment. I’m feeling anxious because of a sentence in my mind and it’s okay.
WHY is it okay? It’s okay because you’re giving yourself an opportunity to learn something about yourself. About your thoughts, fears, and how these feelings feel in your body. It doesn’t mean something has gone wrong, there’s no problem here. You just allow it, experience all of it, and when you’re ready and it’s run it’s course then you can decide, okay, that happened, now what? Now what do I want to do? Answer all your fearful questions.
Realize the feelings are just vibrations in your body and if it’s just a vibration are you willing to feel it? I was willing to feel anxiety before I sang and even with me as I started to sing because I really do enjoy singing and I wanted this opportunity to sing. It also gave me an opportunity to learn something about myself, to surface some insecurities that wouldn’t have come up if I did’t have this opportunity. I could look at them and question them and then decide if they were valid or not, if I wanted to keep them or not.
Feelings are just vibrations in your body, a 90 second cycle that you can totally do but are you willing to? Are you willing to feel what you’re creating? I promise you when you allow your feelings you’re going to be surprised at how it actually feels instead of how you THINK or perceive that it’s going to feel. We think it’s going to be terrible and we feel terrible not because of the feeling itself but because of the layered on unnecessary thoughts and feelings than if you had just allowed it in the first place.
Feeling is such a huge part of life. Every thought you believe and say to yourself generates a feeling. We think a lot of thoughts throughout the day it’s high time we start recognizing the feelings that stem from our thinking. When we do this we’ll start noticing patterns in our lives. No wonder I feel this way all the time! And when you become aware of it you’ll also know how you can change it, if you want to change it, and start creating the results you want in your life.
Help each other feel the feels. It’s okay to feel what you’re feeling. There’s nothing wrong with being angry, sad, lonely, grieving, anxious. Don’t resist, react, or avoid – feel them. Allow others the space to feel them. Encourage them to feel them. When people realize it’s safe to feel their feelings a mighty change will take place and you’ll create a beautiful space.
If you’re striving for love at home, which I hope we all are then this is a huge step to that. Learn how to feel your feelings. Learn that it’s OKAY to feel what you’re feeling without REACTING, just give yourself time to process what you’re feeling. Where do you feel it, notice it, acknowledge it, recognize YOU’RE creating it -NOT the circumstances fault. It’s never the circumstance. Then you can decide what you want to do next. So practice this, apply this, then teach it to others, and give them the space to practice, apply, and exemplify.
Have a beautiful week feeling all the feels, my friends!