At first I thought I’d create a guide for how to have your feelings. But that didn’t feel quite right. Feelings are so personal, they come in all shapes and sizes, and affect us all differently. Instead, the following are some guiding ideas to help you create your own. After all, having unwanted feelings is no walk in the park. (Ooh, now there’s an idea!)

Awareness

Tune in to what’s going on. Really pause to listen and sense what you’re feeling. Some of us find it hard to label or identify a feeling. That’s totally fine. Your body will give you clues. Maybe your chest is tight or you’re clenching your job. Perhaps your palms are sweaty.

Set the mood

Light your candle. Put on your sweats, draw a bath or take a hot shower, listen to some music. Do whatever it is that makes the space you’re in feel safe and comforting. Silence your phone or put it in another room for a bit.

Sink in

Once you’ve acknowledged your feelings, and you’ve made yourself comfortable, now you can more fully sink into that feeling. This is where a couch and blanket come in handy. Might be good to have some tissues nearby, too. Lean into that feeling, let it wash over you.

Get curious

If you can focus, tune in again and be curious about what the feeling is telling you. Perhaps it’s reminding you of a previous experience. Maybe there’s something else, or another feeling underneath it. Journals are great for this part to capture your thoughts and let them live somewhere else.

Breathe

If it gets overwhelming, connect back to your breath. Slow down, sit up straight, ground yourself and take some deep inhales, pause at the top of the breath, and then let it out. (I can sense the eye rolls, but as cliche as this is, grounded breathing quiets and calms the central nervous system.)

Get physical

Some of us can’t sit still when it comes to feelings, especially with anger. Rather than breaking things or getting violent, this is when you can go for a brisk walk or run, do push-ups sit ups, or side to side punch-outs (with yourself that is). 

Some don’ts…

Don’t feel like you have to follow this in order. Figure out what works for you.

Don’t drink or smoke. You may be tempted to pour yourself a glass of wine or hit that joint, and trust me I feel you, but that’s not really going to help. Save that for some other “me” time.

Don’t push yourself. If you need to call a friend, trusted confidant, or your therapist do that. 

** Keep in mind you may not feel relieved and accomplished at the end. Feelings take time to process. **