Yesterday I talked about seeking out advice from other people and allowing yourself to be vulnerable with the people in your life.
Today, I am going to share with you the one piece of wisdom that I believe is the most valuable coping skill I have learned from all the abuse and suffering I have endured in my life.
When I was at the threshold of devastation immediately following the suicide of my son and then the abandonment of my husband, I honestly did not know how to face the future.
I was in so much pain.
I literally lived my life one minute at a time.
I was not capable of even looking ahead to the next day at that point in my life.
I was broken and at the time believed I was beyond any hope for happiness, love, or security of any kind.
So today, I am going to share with you the lesson I learned that literally saved my life.
That lesson was:
FEEL your FEELINGS!
What exactly does that mean, and how does one begin to feel their feelings when they are so intense?
I learned to treat ALL of my feelings like a guest.
I welcome them into my life like I would welcome a guest in my home.
I do everything in my power to make them comfortable, because I know that they will not be there for long.
Knowing that they are just there for a “VISIT” makes it feel safe for me to make my emotions as comfortable as possible so that their visit is a good experience, and does not cause me harm.
Here are some of the ways that you can prepare to handle any FEELING that might show up in your life…
(even the yucky ones!)
Do not ignore the emotional wounds you sustain in your daily life.
Do not buy into the notion that emotional pain is a sign of weakness or psychological frailty.
Do not believe that ignoring emotional pain is a sign of strength.
Do not think of yourself as weak or undesirable when you experience the pain of rejection. Separate yourself from the person or situation that has rejected you and acknowledge that they make choices that are not your business.
Do not believe that by being in touch with your feelings and acknowledging that you hurt, AND wishing you DIDN’T diminishes you in any way.
Do not punish yourself when you carry the burden of guilt. Go to your knees and ask for that burden to be lifted…IMMEDIATELY!
Do not consider yourself undesirable just because you may know the ache of loneliness.
Do not lose yourself in the anguish of loss. Instead hold onto the joys that you had while that person was with you and find meaning in the life they lived.
Do not lose faith in yourself when you encounter the bitter disappointment of failure. Be proud that you had the courage to try.
Do not belittle yourself further when your self-esteem is already under assault. This is a time to be gentle with your heart. Speak kind words to yourself.
Do not become crushed within the churning of brooding and rumination.
So now that we have covered some of the DON’TS…
Let’s move on to the DO’S.
Know that what makes you human is your capacity to feel emotional pain.
Know that what makes you wise is your capacity to recognize that you are not your feelings and that they don’t make you weak.
Know that what makes you strong is your ability to recover from emotional wounds and to become more resilient by doing so.
Know that such wisdom, like all wisdom, must be learned and CAN be learned.
Know that your brain is wired to experience rejection as physical pain. BUt there are many ways that you can ease that pain and revive your self-worth in its aftermath.
Know that loneliness is a trap of self-protective but self-defeating behaviors that we use to push others away…BUT– that it is a trap that you can escape.
Know that you can elicit authentic forgiveness from others, as well as from yourself, and that once you do, your burden of guilt will lift.
Know that failure will cause you to perceive yourself and your goals in distorted ways. So learn how to ignore these ‘gut’ feelings and focus on the many factors in your life that you are in your control of and can change.
Know that loss can devastate your life but if you can eventually find meaning in your experience it will give you a renewed and powerful sense of purpose and satisfaction.
Know that brooding and ruminating is an emotional hamster wheel that only deepens your anger and sadness. The only escape from it is to simply step out of the wheel by refusing to repeatedly pursue the same painful thought. this is the only way to free yourself from it.
Know that your self-esteem is the emotional immune system that protects you from life stresses.
Know that when you indulge in negative self-talk when your self esteem is already low will only weaken your emotional immunity further.
Know that what you need to be doing during stressful times is working on rebuilding your emotional health.
You know that when you cut your finger…you need to clean the wound and then cover it with some form of protection like a band-aid.
I have learned how important it is to treat my emotional wounds immediately as well.
My final piece of advice is to all you parents out there.
Teach your children to heed their emotions and to treat their emotional injuries as soon as they occur.
Show them how to go forward in life with confidence, knowing your emotional pain will inevitably knock you down,
That they can pick themselves up, recover, and become stronger for their future.
I hope that I have inspired all of you to FEEL your FEELINGS so that you can enjoy a happy life filled with healthy relationships.