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On Finding the Courage to Feel

on finding the courage to feel

The ability to feel is a beautiful gift. Emotions stream through our hearts from intangible chemical reactions, and they can become so powerful that they impact our physical state. To feel is truly an incredible strength, and yet so many of us run from our feelings, racing away with eyes slammed shut and breath tightly held.

Avoiding our emotional experiences can be cowardly.

Our feelings may often be scary, overwhelming, or disorienting, leaving many of us putting up blinders to what we feel out of fear. It is so far braver to leap wholeheartedly into your emotions and have the courage to fully let them wash over you, than to flee from yourself.

The majority of our culture runs from pain, but we were made to endure and to experience uncomfortable emotions. We were made for joy, for love, and for the full spectrum of extraordinary human emotion, which includes the daunting ones. We cannot selectively choose our emotions, and we cannot have the positive feeling ones without the ones that we might want to run from.

Of course it’s easier to avoid situations that will cause you to feel deeply, like falling in love, letting people into your life, or getting attached to someone. But we were built for all of these experiences, and the joy and growth will always far outweigh the pain.

At some point in the not so distant past, society decided that feeling was something to be avoided. People began trying hard not to “catch feelings,” for fear of getting hurt even though we all know it’s worth it. Humans were made to love above all.

The power your emotions have over you only grows when you avoid what you’re feeling.

Through accepting your emotional experience and allowing it in whatever form it may come, you actually lessen the grip it has over you. What you resist persists; so if you run, the feeling will only grow stronger and more difficult to move through. We were not meant to escape our emotions; we were made to feel them.

Through letting your emotions in, trying to learn what they are attempting to tell you, and making an effort to understand them, you will be in greater harmony with yourself and in turn the rest of the world. Avoiding your feelings leads to the emotions showing up in unexpected ways, such as angry outbursts, snapping at the ones you love, or even becoming physically ill due to the overwhelming power of emotion.

Delving into your emotions not only benefits you, but it also helps those around you by making you a more understanding and clear-headed human. You can interact more positively, without confusing those around you because you aren’t even sure what your emotional experience is, and you can communicate what you are experiencing with clarity instead of lashing out.

Accepting and acknowledging your feelings helps them to move through you, and humans need flow in every aspect of our being. If you welcome your feelings, they will flow through you. If you reject them, they will build and continue to push at your floodgates. It is brave and powerful to face your feelings head on, wholeheartedly, and with love and kindness.

Envisioning what it might look like to welcome your feelings into your body can be helpful.

Try closing your eyes and imagining the home of your being. There are many rooms, and your home is safe. At the door, many visitors may be knocking or even pounding to get in. These visitors are feelings. They are guests, and they just want to be acknowledged and accepted, to help you learn what they have come to teach you, and to fade when they have served their purpose.

Attempting to bar the door out of fear and keep it tightly shut will only make them push harder, perhaps causing the door to burst and break down. Try opening the door, and greeting each guest with understanding and openness. Welcome even the uncomfortable and painful feelings into your living room, knowing they are transient visitors and not permanent residents. Feelings aren’t facts, and you are the only eternal tenant of your safe home.

Receive each guest, imagine what they look like, and be open to how they show up in your mind. Reach out your hand and hold theirs, letting them know you see them, and thank them for being here because you know they have come for a reason and to make you a better human. Let them in, be brave in their face, and accept them all. They will tell you what they need to if you will just listen.

Feelings are not bad, they are not negative, and they are there for a reason.

They arise to serve a purpose, and to help you grow and learn. We are in this world for a full human experience, and if we avoid such a vital part of it, we cannot fully benefit from the joyful and positive feeling emotions. Running from painful feelings only allows them to linger, and to lurk under your skin until they burst out in detrimental ways, which leaves you a victim of your own emotions. Greet the feelings, let them come and go, let them stay for a time if they need to, allow them to evolve within you. Where the powerful emotions are is where the magic exists.

About the Author

Isabela Minogue

Isabela attended Lewis and Clark College, the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, and Matthew Kenney Culinary Academy. Her interests include ceramics, baking, being outside, poetry, and dancing. Her long term career goal is to do positive and loving work in the world to help people, and to inspire, lift, and spread as much light as possible to other humans.