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How I Actually Process My Feelings in the Real World

I was watching a video this morning and the creator was sharing her thoughts about the concept of feelings. She mentioned that when she notices her feelings start to rise up, she simply sits with them and allows herself to feel them, without naming them or getting "caught up" in the mental aspect of her experience. That's great if that she found something that works for her, but I have found that I have to go a bit deeper in order for me to process and release my emotions.

If I were to simply allow myself to physically sit with and allow my feelings to eventually pass, my brain would very quickly suit up in full armor, ready to fight and attack at the slightest sign of distress. The protector part of my brain would just continue hammering on until I did the work to fully process what the emotion was trying to tell me about my life and experiences. This is just how my brain works. I'm not really sure why, but it just is.

The pragmatic version of me won't allow me to stumble into the world of bypassing reality. I've been there, done that, and it hasn't served me well in the past.

It has taken me a while to figure out a process that works for me, but I think I'm getting there and here it is - how I process my feelings.


I NOTICE the emotion rising up. I name it and allow it to be there.

Then I ASK myself if now is a good time to process the emotion.

If it is NOT a good time to process, then I let it be until I am able to process later. I try to remind myself that there will be time in the future to work through the deeper reasons that caused the feelings to rise up. If I need to respond to another person during this time, I try to remind myself to handle the reaction in a way that is aligned with my core values until I am able to spend the time in deeper reflection.

If it IS a good time to process, then I go ahead and move forward with MENTAL processing.

To do this, I write and ask myself a few questions, such as:

Why am I feeling this feeling?

What is triggering it?

Is there a way I can handle something better in the future?

Do I need to set boundaries with other people or even myself?

Do I need to create new habits?

Does this feeling just need to be validated and fully felt?

Is there anything I can do to alleviate the suffering caused by this feeling?

I spend some time really asking and listening to myself so I can make healthy decisions moving forward. I seek to validate and honor my inner child, inner wounds, and shadow self that needs attention, validation, and care. I like to use the concepts in IFS therapy and shadow work to help me with this process.

I try to be honest with myself and take the steps needed to move in the direction of greater peace and contentment.

If I find there really is nothing I can tangibly do, I try to move forward so I can avoid unhealthy mental rumination. I do this by processing my emotions physically in my body next.

To do this, I choose a processing activity such as guided meditation, walking, drawing, painting, cleaning, listening to music, and playing music. I allow the feeling to be present and move through me during the activity. I try to choose the activity based on what feels best in the moment, then rotate if I feel like I need something different.

This is often all I need in order to return to a sense of peace, but sometimes I still don't really feel better. This seems to be the toughest place for me to be in and I find myself having to just accept that sometimes I can't ease my painful feelings. It just is what it is. Sometimes they are just going to be there and that's OK. I try to remind myself that the pain will eventually pass and won't last forever and that it's normal to feel discomfort because the reality is that life can be painful sometimes. I try to cultivate a healthy dose of self-compassion when I find myself in this space.

I try to cultivate a healthy dose of self-compassion when I find myself in this space.

After I have done this, I usually practice some of my HEALTHY COPING TOOLS or do something from MY JOY LIST or MY REST AND PUTTER LIST. Sometimes this helps, but sometimes it's really just a form of passing the time, which I think is OK too.

At the end of the day, I don't really think there is an exact science to processing our feelings and we all just have to experiment to find out what works best for us personally. What works for one person might not work for another. I do think the common thread for all of us is that it's healthy to acknowledge our feelings and allow ourselves to process them in ways that serve us well.

Here's to processing our feelings!

We got this!



Disclaimer: I recognize that many of the tools I am talking about here might not work for people in active trauma or clinical illness or depression. If you find yourself in this situation, please take gentle care of yourself and get the professional support you need. If you are unable to get support at this time, please look for any possible free resources that can help you get through this time. Sending so much love to you. I see you.

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