When I was a young girl, my mom called me Mona Lisa. If I looked sad, she’d tell me to smile. I assume now she was teaching me to have a positive mental attitude, but instead I began to disregard my feelings. Over the years, though, through my endless soul searching, training and reading, I discovered a respect for myself and the importance of my feelings. Now, I pay attention, I accept, I validate, and I listen to what I am feeling. My coaching clients tell me that is also what I help them do for themselves. Becoming an expert in ourselves is important in having a better relationship with the experience of who we are.
Many people become confused by their emotions and have difficulty finding meaning in them. As Ram Dass says, “The moment in its fullness includes both high and low.” When we can respect that in the end, joy in life comes from experiencing the full range of emotions, our moments become fuller. Then, facing the lows of anger, loneliness, illness, fear and conflicts is more doable. I have learned that when you trust yourself enough to know it’s natural to feel bad and to believe you’ll get through it, you will.
There’s a scene in a movie called, “The Rounders” with Matt Damon. He asked an old girlfriend, “How are you doing?” She responded, “I’m how I am.” Imagine going through our days not judging how we feel; just saying to ourselves, “I am how I am right now.” Imagine owning whatever is going on and being okay with it. Instead of struggling with ourselves, we can embrace the energy of our feelings.
Our emotions express our reaction to our personal meanings – our unconscious limits of what we’ve learned, our fears, our memories, our values and our way of thinking. Emotions are our most reliable indicator of how things are going in our life. They can be used to keep us stuck in feeling bad or as fuel to make different choices, to motivate us to heal and to discover our resilience.
When a feeling arises, it is usually trying to tell us something. Pause, breathe, and honor the feeling. Most all the time, our answers can be discovered within. Ask yourself, “What is making me feel uneasy?” Perhaps there are needs being unfulfilled or inner-thoughts that are hurtful. Are you blaming yourself for someone else’s actions? Let your uncomfortable feelings be a source of inner guidance.
With discriminating awareness, you can rally your inner strength to move you forward to think, respond and act differently. As Malcolm Forbes said, Too many people overvalue what they are not, and undervalue what they are.” In those moments when you feel down, let your strengths and unique qualities begin to light a path. Sometimes we need to redirect our thoughts and feelings to allow self-validation and appreciation for ourselves to shine. When we allow some light in, we’re in a better place to find solutions that feel right.