Why It’s Worth Feeling Our Feelings

Photo by Fallon Michael on Unsplash

i stopped resisting,
the unpleasant feelings
and accepted that happiness
has nothing to do with
feeling good all the time.
~ rupi kaur ~

My heart has been cracking open ever since I realized that there are skills involved in learning how to feel. (Why did we not learn this in school). This “cracking open” continues to be both awesome and challenging. While I always thought I could feel deeply, I see now I have also resisted feeling fully for many years.

Perhaps you can relate?

Growing up there was endless expectation to put away, and not express myself, and “Please, Susan, contain your feelings”.

As one who desperately wants to feel belonging and be included, it’s mattered to me that I heed this advice with respect to how to manage my emotions.

So when the quote above, by Rupi Kaur showed up in my Instagram feed last night I felt myself saying “yes”. It captures what I now believe, and honors the journey my heart has been on.

The journey of the heart is tender terrain. My reflections will not fully hold your own. I still feel very vulnerable some days, yet my training as a coach also gives me great hope that we can (safely) grow deep emotional capacity. Whatever your journey, thank you for opening up to mine.

Here are some of my thoughts on why it’s worth learning to feel fully and deeply.

Feelings aren’t good or bad. They’re all valuable.

The belief that are “good” feelings and “bad” feelings is still so pervasive.

Anyone else observe this?

Many of us have been taught that good feelings can be felt, (but not overexpressed) while the bad feelings are for numbing or removing or pretending they don’t exist or INSERT YOUR STRATEGY OF EMOTIONAL CONTAINMENT HERE.

What if instead we imagined emotions as energy moving through our body. This might help to soften the black and white lines we’ve used to label our emotions. There are no buckets.

All emotions are a part of the human experience. To be human is to feel.

Having “bad”/ hard/ tricky feelings doesn’t make you bad, nor is there anything wrong with you if you do.

Many emotions can feel “tricky” to experience.

But feeling anger, or resentment, or sadness, or whatever feeling might be hard for you, doesn’t make us bad people.

It’s not a character flaw to experience emotion.

Because it can be challenging to experience our emotions, it can matter very much who we are with and/or where we are in order to feel safer to feel what’s happening. It makes a lot of sense to retreat or step away if we are overcome with emotion. But to feel good is not bad. Nor are we a bad person to do so.

And sometimes, our hard feelings are actually hard for others to experience. And it’s on them to learn their own skills for being with emotions too.

Feelings signal needs.

It matters to me that I become emotionally fluent. Learning that feelings are feedback has caused me to start paying attention to what I’m feeling and gives me clues to what my needs might be.

Why would we want to turn off our wisdom and/or choose to hear only parts of it? What if we could develop ways to listen to ourselves? And what if we felt open to hearing it all?

It’s intriguing to imagine what’s possible when we think of the heart as speaking a language of its own.

And it’s important to be attuned to what we’re needing as our feelings arise.

To feel joy, bliss, excitement etc. to its fullest extent means you have to sign up to feel it all. And I mean all of it.

Yes, in order to feel fully, means all of your emotions need room. There isn’t an either/or button that comes with our feelings. We don’t get to choose.

I remember when my grandfather passed away, and just how sad I felt. It was in that season of loss that I realized that my sadness (a then sort-of-bad-emotion-that-should-only-be-expressed-in-limited-amounts-and-in-a-few-places) was directly related to the degree of love and connection that I felt for him. Our emotional experience is messy and complicated and there is a sweet perfection to it as well.

Many of our emotions go hand in hand with one another. We don’t get a feelings menu where we get to choose which emotions to feel about the climate crisis or another matter you care about.

There is also so much anger being expressed around us. Anger is a sign that important boundaries (in every sense of this word) have been crossed or broken; humanity saying “no more” to ways of being that our societies have allowed. This anger needs all the room to be expressed and felt.

And I tell my own boys that we must learn to feel our anger fully yet never ever hurt anyone as a result of it. Yes, anger is a very “big” fulsome emotion for our bodies to hold, and it needs so much room to be expressed. And we need it and can learn to be with it, even in all of its power.

Your anger, just like your fullest joy are clues of what matters to you. Make room for each feeling, Brave One.

We can learn skills to be with our emotions.

None of us are offered a pain free life. To be human and in the contract of life means there will be pain. Loss. Failure. This is the normal part. Pain is a part of the contract of life.

I have resisted this belief all my life. I have craved a pain free life for a long, long time.

And when this belief sometimes surfaces in me, I come back to my breath and look for compassion wherever it might be (if not accessible in me, for me).

While pain is unavoidable. I have learned there is choice in suffering. Suffering is optional. You might have seen this equation: Pain x Resistance = Suffering. These words give me hope as I continue to surrender to feeling more fully. I will feel pain, and I don’t need to stay in a place of suffering.

Just as we have learned skills to put away our emotions (numb them and resist them) we can relax these ways and open up to new ones. I’m not going to tell you it’s easy. I would never use that word to describe my own journey with emotions. But it’s been worth it.

Learning how to feel, how to not resist the feelings, and learning how to be with them and how / when to move through them, and to not judge myself in them has been the longest and best and hardest road I have ever traveled.

And this brings me to my own “favourite” reason why it’s worth feelings our feels.

Feelings foster deep connection.

My own capacity to feel is directly related to my sense of fulfillment in my work.
As my own emotional capacity grows and deepens I’m more able to be with my clients in their hardest (and best) moments. And I fall in love with the work, and the work my clients do even more.

The same goes for my kids. Together, as we learn to be with our emotions, we find ourselves in the most real and raw territory of life — together. We don’t need to run from it, rather we can be together in it.

As I’ve said, it’s not easy, but the terrain, within you is well worth traveling. Should you be curious about companionship, or even just want to dip your toe into something that feels tricky, reach out and we’ll chat. Conversations are always complimentary and pitch free.

May your heart be safe, and full.

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Susan Doerksen Castro

Susan Doerksen Castro

Entrepreneur & Integral Master Coach™ helping accomplished women redefine success so they can realize a new, more fulfilling agenda for their lives.