From Hating Difficult Emotions to Deep Connection

Dear Julie,

There’s a stigma behind feeling negative emotions and letting it out. As humans, we may feel the need to hide ourselves and our feelings because we feel ashamed or scared.
Our first thought is that we need to get rid of that. So how do we connect with our emotions and fear instead of hating it?
Do you have any practical techniques or exercises that can help us better connect with them? 

Many thanks,

Learning as I Go

Dear Learning as I Go,

The first step is to get to know shame.  Shame is the reason we feel the need to hide ourselves and our feelings.  Shame is sneaky because so much of our toxic culture is drenched in it.

Shame tells you you shouldn’t feel a certain way. 
Shame will tell you somebody has it worse than you, so don’t feel sad. 
Shame will tell you all sorts of things to try and convince you that you are wrong for feeling what you feel.

So, a foundational part of connecting with your emotions rather that hating them is recognizing. You have to understand and know its language.

A lot of that language starts with “should” and our Inner Shamers like to push us around with a lot of should’s without even asking us how we feel about these things or what we actually want. 

So the first part is learning how to recognize shame. Once you start to recognize it, you become empowered to talk back to it.

That might sound like, “Who the hell do you think you are to push me around with all of your should’s?”

This is about starting to hear another voice. Shame is the voice that’s the loudest in a lot of us and it is often silencing all these other really important voices, so we have to learn how to access all these other voices that are like “why the hell does shame get to be in charge?” 

We have to start letting those voices feel okay to come out. That can be really scary, and I don’t want to give you a quick answer because it’s not a quick answer. It’s a practice. 

You might feel like you’re losing your mind if you’re like me and you’re in your kitchen confronting shame and nobody’s in the room! It can also be entertaining.

This can be humorous and a very deep practice for a lot of people. 

Another way is the practice of inner loving kindness. Start by asking yourself “how you are feeling?” 

I used to do this all the time. I would write, “How are you, Julie?” on a piece of paper, and I would let myself answer as honestly as possible without trying to fix myself, without telling myself I shouldn’t feel this, without all the stories that come along with my feelings. These feelings are acceptable, and for this 10 minutes or 5 minutes, or an hour I’m going to put them on paper and honor them.

That is a compassionate act! When you do this, you are dedicating time to allow yourself to feel what you are really feeling.

If you want to know MUCH more about all of this here is a free resource to take you further:

Thank you for your question. Good luck with your practice of caring deeply for you.