I am. I feel. I am not what I feel.
These words came pouring out of me the first time I came to realize this most profound lesson on life. It’s been more than 4 years since I first wrote those words but the prior 30+ years of my life were lived without the awareness this lesson has provided me.
We all have feelings every moment of every day. Some of us are quite aware of what those feelings are and yet some of us are still on that part of our journey where we’re exploring what that looks like. It’s irrelevant where on the path you are when it comes to being able to incorporate this lesson into your life.
How many times in your life have you had a feeling so big that it was as if it was consuming you? Do you remember what that was like? Some feelings can have that affect on us including: fear, anxiety, anger, sadness, overwhelm, and powerlessness. These feelings in particular can be explosive, coming on really fast and then fully consuming us.
When this happens to you, do you have much control over how you respond to the situation? If you were anything like me then the answer is likely No. It’s likely that even your language substantiates the notion that you become your feelings. You might find yourself saying, I am angry or I am sad or I am overwhelmed.
The truth of the matter is that you are none of those things. You are not your feelings. You have feelings; in fact, you actually create feelings but you are not your feelings. Who you are (at the core) is constant and unchanging. Feelings come and go and change quicker than the weather in Baltimore! Trust me, I know, I used to live there!
Anyway, the point is that when you confuse who you are with how you feel then you become this ever changing, inconsistent, unreliable expression of you! If you truly want to live the best version of you then you may want to start considering what you align your actions with. Will you align them with your ever changing and expanding feelings or will you align them with the consistent, reliable, and core of who you are?
One way to begin changing how you view yourself and how you respond to these big feelings is by creating some space for the feelings to exist. I wish I had more time to explore this deeper with you but I want to give you something that you can walk away with and use right now! Are you ready?
Okay, the next time you feel a big feeling come on (i.e; anger, anxiety, fear, sadness, etc.) I want you to say out loud, “Hello (insert feeling)!” I know…you probably think I’m a nut but go with me on this one. The reason we want to say, “Hello” to our feeling is that we want to begin to disassociate who we are with how we feel. Doing this not only honors and respects our feeling and acknowledging it exists but it allows us to appreciate that we are on some level separate.
This slight bit of separation allows us enough breathing room to decide how we want to respond to the situation at hand. With new space and new awareness brings new possibility for choice. In this case, we can choose to respond to the situation based on who we are and not on how we feel.
Take for example, responding to a situation based on being vulnerable, courageous, and resilient in the face of feeling fear and anxiety. In another situation, we may choose to respond based on being honest, thoughtful, and gentle in the face of feeling anger. The point is that we get choose how to respond to life not in spite of our feelings but rather along side of them. The only way to do this is to really embrace this valuable lesson.
I am. I feel. I am not what I feel.