A question I answer most often with my clients is “How do I feel my feelings?” or some variation of this. The answer to this question may seem fairly simple, but I also find that it is one of the hardest skills to implement with my clients who struggle with connecting with their emotions. Why is connecting to emotions so difficult? We can look at two large influences; you were not shown in your childhood, and our society has historically deprioritized identifying, connecting, and processing emotions as as valuable as using other types of intellect. Many of us were not taught directly and indirectly how to navigate our feelings; however, when learning to grow and navigate life’s hardships, we cannot think our way through discomfort. We have to learn to sit with it. Engaging in this process may take a varied amount of time and may range in difficulty based on your current life experiences and your upbringing; however, this guide will give you 5 different ways to start.
1. Understand the purpose of feelings
Many of us have been socialized to believe that feelings make us weak, not successful, or even “less smart”, when in reality, feelings allow us to build connections to ourselves, others, and the world around us. Feelings can help us identify when we have an unmet need that needs attention. They are an innate part of our human experience and they are internal cues, just like hunger or thirst. Just like these other bodily experiences, our emotions pass. They do not last forever. We may feel our emotions, but we are not our emotions.
2. Identify them.
his can be difficult if there has not been a large emotional vocabulary in your life so far. This is okay! You can check out feeling wheels like this one. They can help you specify your experience and identify the nuance in your feelings.
3. Validate your feelings
Giving permission to feel whatever comes to us is one of the hardest aspects of connecting to feelings for a lot of my clients. This is especially true for those whose feelings have a history of being invalidated and dismissed by others. Validating your feelings already starts by identifying either the emotion if you can name it, or that you are noticing something is happening. Remember, emotions are natural and are giving you feedback. Validation looks like welcoming this experience and trying not to judge it or change it. You can build this sense of safety within yourself by saying or writing down a few statements: “It is okay that I feel (emotion), I am allowed to feel (emotion), “It is coming from somewhere, even if I don’t know where and that is okay.” After a bit of practicing, you will find yourself resisting your emotions less.
4. Pay attention to your body
Our emotions are connected to our thoughts as well as our bodies. We have a physical reaction that many of us were taught to ignore, however, incorporating your body as you identify your feelings allows you to fully connect with them. Keep in mind that the way you experience one emotion in your body may not be the same as someone else. This step may feel unsafe for those with a history of trauma. Start slowly by focusing on your body in small amounts. First, direct your attention to your breath, notice your breathing pattern and start engaging in a few slow deep breaths. Then you can start from your head to toe and do a body scan. Notice any sensations that you experience. This can include tightness, tension, pins and needles, calmness, butterflies, etc. Mentally name any sensation and direct your breath there. Try to visualize what this sensation looks like, if you can. For example, if it feels like your stomach is tight, does the tightness look like a knot? A rock?. Continue breathing and validating yourself along the way as you notice the emotion.
5. Express your feelings
Sometimes emotions need movement, creativity, or support from others (and yourself) to continue processing. There are so many options, and many of them may be what you already do on your own. The key is noting the intention of connecting with your emotions while engaging in these activities. Some look like:
- a) Journaling
- b) Any movement (dancing, walking, stretching, yoga, exercise, etc)
- c) Listening to music
- d) Crying
- e) Creating something
- f) Talking to someone in your support system
Emotions have long been associated with being the problem. So much so, that we as a society have tried so hard not to have a world focused on them. The problem with that is when emotions are not acknowledged, processed, they get stuck in the body. We continue unhealthy patterns and certain cycles that impact us internally and others, externally in our behaviors. It is not the emotions that cause problems for us, it is our inability as individuals and a society to navigate them that impacts us all. Connecting to emotions and “feeling your feelings” does take time and can come in waves. As you start practicing, try to give yourself grace for where you are at, engage with meditation to guide you, a trusted loved one, or mental health professional for additional support.
Contact Us Today to Learn How to Start Feeling Your Feelings Through Therapy in New York, NY!
You deserve express your self and feel the feels. To get started, learn more about SG wellness in New York. Our brown and black therapists are here to support you. You can start your therapy journey by following these simple steps:
- Schedule a free consultation now to begin your mental health journey!
- Meet with a caring therapist
- Start receiving the support you deserve!
Other Therapy Services SG Wellness Offers:
Finding support for your mental health matters. Our therapists in NY are here for you and your needs. At our therapy practice, we have therapists who identify as black therapists, Latinx therapists, Dominican, & BIPOC. It’s our mission to offer multicultural counseling that serves you and your needs. We offer therapy for people of color, therapy for Latinx individuals, indigenous populations, and middle eastern clients, as well as therapy for men and women. If you’re looking for a safe space we are here for you.
Additionally, if you’re looking for another kind of support other than therapy for self-esteem we have more services. Other services we offer include anxiety treatment and therapy for perfectionism, depression treatment, individual therapy, therapy for young and emerging adults, therapy for self-esteem, individual relationship therapy. All of our services are offered via online therapy in New York. Areas we serve include Staten Island, The Bronxs, Queens, and Brooklyn, NY. When you’re ready, let’s work together.