When we find ourselves in challenging situations, accompanied by discomforting and painful feelings like anxiety or shame, we often ask "why" we feel this way. We look for potential reasons and causes of our discomfort because we don't think we "should" feel this way. Sentiments such as "we should be able to handle this better", or "we should know what to do" descend upon us. When the answers elude us or fail to provide solace, we hold ourselves accountable for our perceived shortcomings. This often originates from the notion that our emotions and needs are of lesser significance.
When we tumble down the rabbit hole of "why" questions and "should" statements, we end up marinating in feelings of shame and isolation. Uncertainty clouds our judgement and renders decision-making a daunting task. This, in turn, affects our self-worth, fuelling a vicious cycle that reappears each time we experience stress, uncertainty or anxiety.
Feelings are integral parts of us that flag our needs. By questioning "why" we feel a certain way or stating that we "should" feel or behave differently, we disregard that part of us that is voicing our needs. Becoming friendly with your feelings enables you to connect with your inner compass.
Here are three tips to help you sever ties with the "should" statements and the "why" questions encircling your mind. (Hint: it helps to cultivate a friendship with your feelings)
'Giving space to my feelings' serves as my mantra during tough times. Visualise the questions of "why" and the "should" statements floating away on a cloud, propelled by a dose of self-compassion and kindness.
You might find it helpful to anchor your inner self through guided meditation, such as The Mountain by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Anchoring aids in feeling safe and grounded, offering permission to experience your feelings. Alternatively, imagine a close friend providing a sense of safety and space.
Remember, allowing space for your feelings requires practice. Like training for a marathon or competition, your self-compassion muscles need training and strengthening to deploy during challenging times.
Once you recognise feelings of discomfort, approach them as you would a friend. Initially, these feelings may seem scary and you may strive to avoid them. Yes, it might seem strange and uncomfortable to welcome these feelings with open arms, but acknowledging them will help to diminish the "should" statements and also reduce their intensity.
You can start by identifying the appearance, touch, taste, and odour of these feelings in your mind's eye. For instance, if you are feeling angry, you may visualise anger as red, warm to touch, and smelling like fire.
90% of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress and with these 3 tips, you'll be well on your way to mastering yours too.
If you've never received support from those around you, the idea of supporting your own feelings might seem alien and awkward. It could take a lot of practice to be able to tell yourself, "I am here for you." Try visualising the feeling as a friend and offer it your support. A small action, like placing your hands on your heart, could cultivate the sense of support.
Remember, there's no right or wrong way to feel. By adopting these strategies, you'll find that you can shed the "why" questions and "should" statements. As a result, you'll see that your feelings start shifting and gripping you less intensely.
If you struggle with befriending yourself, feel free to reach out to me. We can work together to shift your beliefs and perception of yourself. Book online for a complimentary 15-minute telephone meet and greet to discuss how this might assist you.