It’s easy to sweep feelings under the rug and pretend they don’t exist, but this will cause more problems than it solves. Some emotions are meant to be felt, and when you feel them consciously and express them effectively, you can often solve issues that seem unsolvable with traditional problem-solving techniques. If you want to feel your feelings on purpose to move through them and get past them, these ten ways to feel your feelings can help you get there.
10 Ways to Feel Your Feelings
1. Stay present
When you focus on feelings, it’s easy to be distracted and drift into thinking about how you want a situation to play out or what you wish would happen next. For example, if someone is shouting at you, it’s natural for your thoughts to wander and wonder what they’re feeling or why they are upset. When that happens, take a step back from your interpretation of their words or actions and stay in contact with your immediate sensations. What do you hear? Do you feel tightness in your chest? Are there butterflies in your stomach? Stay present by breathing slowly and deeply as you listen to what they have to say. If possible, try saying something like, “I’m sorry I don’t understand. Can you explain more?” This will help keep things focused on them rather than getting lost in interpreting their tone or body language.
Meditation can also help you be more present, live in the moment, and notice the emotions that are surfaced. We recommend a simple guided mindfulness meditation practice from our meditation app, Declutter The Mind.
2. Use affirmations
For example, when you’re sad, remind yourself: I am a person who feels sadness and does not let that feeling control me. Positive affirmations and motivation affirmations give you power over your feelings instead of your feelings controlling you. Just knowing you have choices about how to react can help calm some of those negative emotions and lead to positive thoughts and actions. While affirmations aren’t going to fix everything overnight, they can be accommodating in changing your mood for better or worse.
If you’ve been stuck in a rut, try using an affirmation to help change your attitude for the better. If you find yourself saying things like I’m always so angry, try using an affirmation like I choose to feel happy. It’s hard at first, but with practice, it will become easier and easier until it becomes second nature. The more you use them, the more effective they become. Also, make sure to notice what happens when you use them. Do you start feeling happier? Or are there other factors at play? Take note of these observations as well. Maybe you don’t believe your affirmation is true, or you’re having a bad day and need to wait until tomorrow before trying again.
3. Take the time to think about it
When you’re going through a difficult experience, emotions can be overwhelming and incredibly raw. It’s okay, good even, to feel these emotions deeply and passionately. But you need to take some time to sit with your thoughts and feelings so that they have a chance to sink in fully. Take some time alone if possible, think about what happened or why you feel how you do, then process through those feelings in whatever way works best for you: write in a journal, take a long walk outside, talk it out with someone close (or at least listen). Whatever helps your mind process what happened. Taking some time after an emotional event is just as important as taking time while it is still happening. You don’t want to miss anything. You want all of those emotions to settle down and make sense. Then you’ll be able to see things more clearly and deal with them effectively. And, who knows? Maybe by thinking things through, you’ll find something positive from your experiences. Maybe there will be something to learn from what happened. Or perhaps you’ll realize that there isn’t anything worth worrying about.
4. Practice letting go
Letting go is a big part of being able to feel our feelings, and for some people, it can be one of their biggest challenges. We’re hardwired by years of social conditioning not to show vulnerability or anger, especially in public places-and that can make it hard for us not only to feel our feelings but even identify them in ourselves. If you want to learn how to feel your feelings, you first have to start by learning how and why we bottle them up. Identifying your emotions isn’t always easy; they don’t always come with an obvious physical cue. Since our feelings are tied so closely with judgment, we often have a hard time letting ourselves feel what we truly are experiencing.
5. Get out of your head
For many of us, feelings can be difficult to identify and even harder to talk about. However, feelings are essential for understanding ourselves and others, and they’re super important when it comes to decision-making. So the next time you feel confused or frustrated by a situation, try getting out of your head and into your body. Think about how you feel physically, your stomach might be tight, or your heart might be racing, and then figure out what that physical feeling means in terms of what’s going on emotionally. You might realize that you’re angry at someone or scared about something that hasn’t happened yet. Whatever emotion you’re feeling is valid, so don’t worry if it’s not one you’d expect. Just get curious. Once you figure out what’s going on inside yourself, it’ll become easier to deal with whatever’s happening around you.
6. Ask for help
When you’re feeling down, it can be easy to withdraw and isolate yourself. But sometimes, when we try to feel better on our own, it only makes us feel worse. It’s important to talk with someone who cares about you and who can help support you. If you don’t have anyone in your life that fits that description, reach out to a professional counselor or therapist. They’ll listen and care for you while also helping guide you through your feelings. You might even find that you start feeling better just by talking things out. The very act of sharing what you’re going through can take some of its power away. So ask for help.
7. Don’t judge yourself for feeling
Rather than judging yourself for feeling negative emotions, treat these feelings to indicate that you are human. You don’t have to do anything with these feelings other than simply acknowledge their existence. If you think about it, it’s pretty amazing how human beings can experience so many emotions in such a short amount of time. The ability to feel and process such a wide range of emotions is what makes us so incredible. The next time you have an intense feeling or negative thoughts, try not to judge yourself or telling yourself that you should feel differently. Notice your inner critic. Simply acknowledge what’s happening inside your body and mind at that moment and recognize that it is okay for humans to feel whatever they’re feeling at any given moment in time.
8. Allow yourself to be surprised
Surprises are pleasant and exciting, but they’re also a way for us to glimpse ourselves from a different perspective. We can discover what truly matters when we’re suddenly given new information about our environment or when circumstances force us out of our normal routines. It might be surprising, but you can allow yourself to feel surprised every once in a while without feeling like your whole life is crumbling apart. You just have to get used to it first. The best thing about surprises is that you don’t need to look for them; they come looking for you. So if you find yourself craving something spontaneous, try not to overthink it. Just let it happen.
9. Focus more on others than yourself
Studies have shown that our levels of empathy can fluctuate according to what we’re feeling and thinking. For example, people who are anxious or depressed often don’t pick up on other people’s cues as well as they should. If you find that emotions like anxiety or depression are affecting your level of empathy, it may be helpful to reach out for help. But whether you need it or not, taking some time every day to reflect on others will keep your empathetic abilities strong and healthy. If you’re interested in better understanding others’ feelings but don’t know where to start, a good way is simply by asking questions like How do you feel about? You might be surprised by how freely people open up when asked that question. Another great tip is to just listen more than you talk. Listening helps us empathize with others because it allows us to hear their experiences firsthand and see things from their perspective.
10. Trust what you already know
No one can ever truly understand how you feel; they have only their personal experience with which to relate. They are trying to help, but not everyone is able or willing to do so. In those situations, it’s important to recognize that fact and then trust what you already know: “This situation sucks, and I want it to stop. I want that person or circumstance out of my life. I don’t deserve these feelings, experiences, thoughts, or emotions. All of these things are making me miserable and/or angry.” Even if you can’t make them go away and sometimes there isn’t a logical reason why they should. You have a right to feel as you do and act accordingly.
The hardest part about dealing with our feelings is that we’re so afraid of them. That’s what makes feeling our feelings so scary. But being scared isn’t enough reason not to feel something, even if it feels bad, especially if it feels bad. Emotions can be tricky, they can zigzag, and they can come and go without warning, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t real. The next time you get overwhelmed by something, whether it’s negative or positive, take a moment and ask yourself.do I want to feel my feelings right now?