We’ve talked in previous episodes about replacing “Good vibes only” with “All vibes welcome.” This means allowing and feeling all of our human emotions, even the difficult ones.
Our upbringing, culture, and traumatic experiences can disconnect us from our emotions and intuition. Many of us get stuck in our minds and stop noticing the pain or discomfort in our bodies, so we miss signals that are crucial to our well-being.
In this episode, we discuss why feeling your emotions matters and how to do it. We share practices that are teaching us to feel it all, and which you can use to do the same.
Here are some steps to practice feeling the feels with more intention and granularity to have a more fulfilling experience of your life and relationships:
1. Use a practice like RAIN to tune into your emotions with mindfulness and compassion.
Psychologist, author, and meditation teacher Tara Brach recommends using the acronym RAIN to practice mindfulness and self-compassion during difficult emotional moments. This is a reliable lifeline to wake up from what she calls “trance” — of unworthiness, of being separate from everyone else and alone — and to accept reality without fighting it. RAIN stands for Recognize, Allow, Investigate, Nurture.
2. Expand your emotional vocabulary to define your experience and not get swept away by it.
Being able to identify and describe your emotions more precisely can improve your emotional and physical health. When naming your emotions, practice pushing beyond general terms to get more specific. If you’re feeling upset, what emotion is behind it – frustration, betrayal, resentment, disgust? If you’re in a great mood, what feelings are you experiencing – happiness, belonging, amusement, curiosity?
3. Express your emotions regularly and intentionally
Share vulnerably with a trusted loved one. This builds connection and shame resilience, reduces stress and anxiety. In moments of stress, name the emotion out loud (“I’m feeling a lot of stress right now.”) Use outlets to release painful emotions from your body, like movement journaling, art, and music.
4. Get curious about the story you’re telling yourself.
A tool from Brené Brown that we’ve both found really helpful is the phrase “the story I’m making up.” For example: “The story I’m making up is that you don’t think my work is as important as yours because you worked late and I had to leave to pick up the kids.” Or: “The story I’m telling myself is that my friend is mad at me because I texted her something important and she never responded.”
Before getting carried away with your story, get curious and ask yourself questions about the narrative:
- What’s the story I’m making up?
- What am I feeling?
- What are the facts?
- What are my beliefs or assumptions?
- What do I need to know about other people involved?
- What part did I play?
Write down your answers, and reflect on them without judgment.
5. Tell yourself a better story.
What story would serve you better? You get to decide. Generate different emotions in your body by choosing different thoughts about the situation.
Get In Touch
Do you have a hard time feeling the feels? What gets in your way, and what helps you?
Tell us at firstname.lastname@example.org or send us a voice memo.
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- Episode 39: Dodging the Second Arrow
- Brené Brown: Downloadable list of the 87 emotions/experiences in Atlas of the Heart
- Films for Action: Brené Brown on How to Reckon with Emotion and Change Your Narrative
- Tara Brach: RAIN: A Practice of Radical Compassion
- New York Times: Are You in Despair? That’s Good
- Journal of Personality: Psychological Resilience and Positive Emotional Granularity
- TED: Try these two smart techniques to help you master your emotions