The other day I was reading a very good fiction book (The last anniversary by Liane Moriarty) and in one of the chapters, one of the characters recently had a baby. When her husband goes back to work after two weeks at home, she can’t seem to think or feel straight. Everything seems overwhelming, everything seems to take a superhuman effort. And yes, it may be due to the lack of sleep one has a new parent, but chemically, hormonally things were upset in her body. She mentions at some point that she seems to have no time. Everything is related to the baby and its needs. Her needs as a woman are so far down on anyone’s list, including her own. And she just wants time. Time to sleep, time to rest, time to be herself, time to think, time to feel.
I so hear her. And it is true not only when we have just become a mother, but at any point in our lives.
Time to feel.
In our busy society, it’s all about DOING. Thinking is allowed, but not too much and fast please.
But feelings? They seem to have little place nowadays.
I see this with my kids. They are supposed to process so many things. Rationally, mentally. But nobody teaches them or allows them to process feelings.
And feelings take time and experience to process. They need to ‘move through our body’. If they don’t, they get repressed. And when they get repressed, they end up being swept under the carpet (and eventually someone will fall over the bump) or they turn into stress, pain, headaches, bodily aches and illness and a general unhappiness.
When was the last time you consciously addressed a feeling? Whether it was a happy or unhappy one. Fear, anger, delight, pure joy.
Did you talk the fear down? It’s ridiculous to be afraid of this spider/rollercoaster/presentation to 20 people!!!
Did you fume internally when your husband didn’t take out the trash/your colleague pretended your idea was his? Or did you take it out on someone else?
Did you glow inside when your kid succeeded at his project you helped him with/you sold a painting/you got a huge compliment and then moved on to the next thing on your to do list?
We often acknowledge the feeling and then move on.
We do not let the feeling unfold. Yes, some of the bad feelings are scary when they unfold. But they need to move in, on and then out.
I am not talking about analyzing the reasons and the why. That is mental work that does need to happen too, but on a more general level.
I am talking about honoring and giving space to each little feeling and let it develop bodily.
My feelings tend to get stuck in three places: my shoulders/neck, my hips and my gut.
And when those three body parts act up, I know I haven’t given my feelings the space and time they deserve.
No need to get therapy. This helps with the big stuff, the pattern you need to change, the boundaries you need to create, the insecurity you need to tackle.
But you need to give your body feeling time. And often, it’s actually pretty simple. Because the body is smart and knows what to do. When it is given time.
How to give your body feeling time:
- Sleep a bit longer/more or take an afternoon nap.
- Take a salty bath.
- Cry it out (I mean really cry it out).
- Get a massage where someone presses things through.
- Take a day off and do absolutely nothing.
- Meditate and do a body scan (I use apps like Calm, Insight Timer or Headspace)
- Ground your body to reconnect it with nature and the earth (go for a walk, walk barefoot in the grass, sit in the sun, hug a tree, …).
Honour the feeling
Sit with the feeling. Bathe in it. Really feel it.
In which body part is it strongest? Put your hands on that part. Allow that feeling to sit there. Thank it for being there and showing you something important. Whether the feeling is rational or not, it is a sign. When you do this, you will be able to savour the good feeling and the joy will be so much stronger. You will be able to recognise the real feeling. That fear of the spider may actually be something else.
It is hard to do this because today’s world doesn’t often give us the time and space to do it.
But when we honour our feelings, they honour us back. And that, my friend, is what life is all about.