On Coming Undone, Feeling All the Feelings, and Why You Should Never Apologize For Either

“She had finally allowed her negative feelings to surface, feelings that had been repressed for years in her soul. She had actually FELT them, and they were no longer necessary, they could leave.” ~Paul Coelho, Veronica Decides To Die

Sunday morning, I woke up feeling ALL THE FEELINGS.

And the only thing I wanted to do was to eradicate them immediately.

Luckily, a good friend of mine was on board for a cross-country video chat, during which I mostly cried and continued to feel every feeling ever, and he listened with a degree of kindness and compassion for which I am exceedingly grateful.

At some point during this conversation, I heard myself utter the words:  “I just wish I wasn’t like this. Everything would be so much easier.”

And this friend reminded me of a Pema Chodron quote I had literally just the day before posted to my Facebook wall:

“The problem is that the desire to change is fundamentally a form of aggression toward yourself. The other problem is that our hangups, unfortunately or fortunately, contain our wealth. Our neurosis and our wisdom are made out of the same material. If you throw out your neurosis, you also throw out your wisdom.”

Deep breath.

How would it feel to just feel your feelings?

Without judgment.

Without blaming.

Without shame.

Without wishing things were different.

Those painful feelings would still feel painful, sure. But less painful than they do when you simultaneously entertain the idea that you shouldn’t be feeling them at all.

That feeling them makes you weak.

That you’re somehow a failure for feeling what you feel.

Because thinking that thought is like piling pain on top of pain. And getting out from underneath that pile of shit is hard.

Let me tell you.

I’m lucky. I am surrounded by a multitude of people who never try to make me stuff my feelings or pretend I’m not feeling them or deny them entirely. People who are unconditionally supportive of my apparent need to occasionally come undone.

For this, I am so very grateful.

Because here’s the thing, you guys:

We all have to come undone sometimes.

You have to shake up your internal operating system if you ever expect to engage in any amount of real, intentional change.

And sometimes getting completely rocked on an emotional level is going to feel unbearable and unending and unfair. Sometimes, you’re gonna think you can’t hack it.

I’m here to tell you that you can.

You are resilient. Seriously. Ridiculously resilient. It’s in your DNA.

So don’t be afraid of the big feelings and the scary feelings and the feelings that make you think you might never feel otherwise.

Feelings are not final.

If I’ve learned anything in my 32 years on this earth, it is that you are always and eventually going to feel differently. Maybe not in an hour, maybe not in a day, but eventually the feelings will be transformed into something else entirely.

Sunday, after my friend reminded me how cruel I was being to myself by desiring that I be somehow different, I fully immersed myself in the terrible feelings I was feeling.

And then I wept. For two full hours.

What happened then? I felt better. For a while at least.

Long enough to feel grateful and joyful and to remember how strong I really am.

Your feelings are not an excuse to act like an asshole. To take out the terribleness on anyone else.

But also:  You are allowed to feel what you feel. To feel it fully. To let it soften you from the inside out.

And to allow yourself your feelings without criticizing, judging, blaming, or shaming, is a profound act of self-compassion.

Because the quickest way to get from feeling terrible to feeling maybe not so terrible?

Dive as deeply as you can into the terrible feeling. Engage with it directly. Invite it in. Really feel it in your body.

Even if the feeling you’re feeling seems irrational or silly or unwarranted. Even if it makes no sense. Even if you can’t identify exactly what it is. Dive in.

Because then, and only then, can it truly be transformed.

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