When my dad passed away, I got a text from a friend that said "Let yourself feel."
At that time in my life, the last thing I wanted to do was feel. If you've lost someone close to you, you know what I'm talking about.
But I know now that my friend was right.
Feelings don't go away until you feel them, pure and simple. They're like little messengers of love that need your attention when they appear, and if you ignore them long enough, they transform into monsters of resentment, anguish, and loneliness.
We might tell ourselves to stay positive or that everything is going to be alright, and we shove those feelings down the drain and stop them with a sink plug so we don't ever have to see them again because of how they make us feel.
But the truth is, those uncomfortable feelings are beautiful, and they have something to tell us.
Until we listen, they can wreak havoc in our lives: financially, creatively, and socially. The only solution to moving forward is say hello to the thing that's hurting us, and move forward knowing we've listened to what it had to say.
In other words, address it, honor it, and let it go.
SO HOW DO WE DO THAT?
I thought I'd share with you the personal strategy I use when I feel like something harsh from my past is ruining my present moment, and potentially my future. I've gotten a little creative with it over the months, and I think this will help you face the real reason why rough patches keep cropping up over and over, so you can release it.
You've got to feel it to heal it, as they say. If something is bothering you, take yourself somewhere quiet and feel everything. Rage, tears, yelling, bring it on!
Grab a pillow and scream in it.
Grab some tissues and have a really good, heaving, sobbing cry.
Rant out loud. (This REALLY helps for me, because I need to talk it out sometimes). Just say why you're upset to an empty room, as if the person you really want to talk to was standing right in front of you. Sometimes the best way to let things out is to verbally just let them out. And to be truthful about everything you're feeling.
Sit in silence
This is good for when all the ranting, yelling, and crying is done. Sit in complete silence. It's not up to us to have all of the answers. Life gives us the answers when we listen.
If you're struggling to let something go, and you feel like you've been trying to force yourself to let it go (and judging yourself when you can't), take your foot off the gas for a few minutes and sit in silence.
Recognize that you aren't the one that has to be in charge for a few minutes. Don't try and ask the universe for anything, don't set any intentions, don't try and be a good person, don't try and meditate, just let your mind be quiet.
This does wonders because it gives you a break, and it allows life to run its course without our constant interference. It's pretty liberating, actually!
I usually do this for about 2-3 minutes. Don't pressure yourself to do it for extended periods of time. Just try it out and take a nice deep breath afterwards.
Write out your feelings with a pen or pencil
Write, write, write out your feelings. Write out your soul. Any anguish that comes up from whatever you're clinging to, just take a few minutes and write it down.
As you're writing, try writing to whatever higher power you believe in, this helps tremendously. God, spirit, the universe, love, etc.
I write to God, and I love writing to him. I just tell him everything.
I ask him to help me, I tell him I need desperately to understand what this feeling is trying to teach me. I tell him I'm confused, but I also acknowledge him.
I tell him I know he's there for me and I thank him for listening. I tell him that I know he's going to help me because he would never ever leave me or stop loving me.
(And he'll never stop loving or leave you either.)
This offloads a tremendous burden. The writing alone is cathartic, but when you're writing to someone who you know is listening and loving and helping you, it gets you in the mindset of release, and release is the goal.
CLose your eyes, and honor the feelings
Whatever happened to you that you're holding onto has a gift for you. The "bad" feelings associated with it are like a signal to your body that there's something beautiful about yourself to know.
Your body is literally giving you gifts.
What? you're probably saying. How can all of this torment be a gift?
Anxiety is a gift for instance, because it's your mind and body sending you a loving signal that something in your life is off, and you're not addressing it. This could be something like, being overworked, not paying attention to something significant that's happened in your life, or going through a big transition.
For me, I was in a bad freeway accident, and I plunged right into moving in with my boyfriend a few months later. It was no wonder my anxiety was at an all time peak!
But whatever torment you're facing is a gift, and being thankful for this gift is a great way of honoring the mixed feelings and emotions that are happening to us.
So how do we honor our feelings?
What I do is close my eyes and imagine the difficult situation or emotion on a giant altar. I pretend I'm bowing my head to it, and hold my hands in prayer position.
Silently, I thank it for all that it came here to teach me. I respect it, and know that I am a better person because of it. In the end, I tell it to go with love.
Be at least willing to let the feelings go
Painful emotions and feelings don't go away by saying "I really need to let this go", and criticizing yourself when it feels like you can't.
Every situation is different, and if you need more time before you can let these feelings go, love yourself and give yourself that time.
But if it's time, one of the simplest, and easiest ways for letting things go is by showing willingness.
Willingness is easier than forcefulness. Instead of forcing yourself to move on, say to yourself, today I'm willing to let this go. Just for today. If you're willing to let it go, you've taken a huge first step, because a lot of the time we don't realize that it's actually our unwillingness to let go and forgive that keeps us stuck.
Sometimes I think it's the very idea of letting something go that's too big for us to handle, so we don't even know where to start. But if you're at the very least willing to let the feelings go, each day, that willingness to be free from old emotions will get stronger and stronger.
At the end of the day, don't judge yourself
If it's taking you some time to let these old feelings go, don't judge yourself if it's been a struggle. This is a beautiful time in your life, and the relief you're looking for is already deep inside of you, it just takes a little silence, emotion, love, and patience to find it.
And trust me, you'll find it.