He who must not be named

“Tough emotions are part of our contract with life” -Susan David

While I could probably spend a majority of my time discussing my thoughts and feelings regarding Harry Potter, this post is (unfortunately) not about V*ldemort.

Just as people don’t dare to talk about the Dark Lord, we also have a tendency of not talking about our feelings as if they have the same awful reputation.

Most likely you’ve experienced that lovely feeling of “ugh I just want this to go away” or “I don’t want to feel like this!”. So you continue to push those feelings away into the dark abyss of your life hoping to never see them again. However if we can learn anything from ole’ voldy, they always come back until we eliminate them for good! The only way to actively make your feelings “go away” is to deal with them (or defeat them with the elderwand. Okay now I’m done).

I know it’s scary. I know the pain is heavy and real and it’s easier to not cope. But as soon as we push the feelings away, the more power we give them to come back up.

Somewhere along the way of the world, someone decided which feelings get to be legitimate. You’re feeling happy? Great, please continue on! You’re feeling angry? Oh man really…I’m gonna ask you to not share that because it makes me feel uncomfortable.

We’ve all grown up learning that there are “good and bad” emotions. But what if I told you there are no bad emotions? No really. There aren’t. Emotions just are. They exist, we experience them, they help us interpret what we are experiencing. They are emotions, that’s it.

This probably sounds crazy because we have all probably spent the majority of our lives believing that anger and sadness or frustration or even stress, are bad things in life. However in reality, we experience the emotion, and then assign a positive or negative attribute to them. In turn this ultimately impacts our thinking and behaviors.

In psychology this idea is called amplification. The more we ignore emotions, the greater hold they have on us. They start to control the way we go about life. We become accustomed to not doing something in order to avoid feeling a certain way. If I avoid going to a social event because I feel anxious, then anxiety is controlling my behavior.

Anxiety is okay! Anger is okay! Excitement is okay! Guilt is okay! Sadness is okay! Grief is okay!

Are you sensing a pattern here? You are allowed to feel any of the feels you want my friend. It’s what we do with those feelings that makes a difference. I’m allowed to be as angry as I want at my husband, but as soon as I take it out on him, I’m letting anger control my behavior.

So what can you do? Let the feelings come, let yourself experience them. Feel them happen to you as you go about your day. Assign reasoning to why you’re feeling a certain way. Give yourself evidence to answer the inner dialogue of the reason behind this emotion. Once you do that, acknowledge it. Release the judgment that follows. Try hard not to assign a quality to the feelings. Our feelings tell us something. They let us know how to respond or react. Listen to them, slow down, and decide who is in control.

You don’t get into trouble by having a feeling. You get into trouble by acting on them.

An amazing Tedtalk I always go back to is one by psychologist Susan David called “The gift and power of emotional courage“. She summarizes this information so well and I highly recommend it.

You are not your thoughts. You are not your feelings. They are happening to you and you have the power to control them.

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