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How to feel your feelings

We’ve all been there, haven’t we? That welling up of tension within us, maybe thin and brittle like porcelain waiting to crack, or fiery and frenzied like a volcano about to erupt. All those FEELINGS inside wanting to get out, but…how?

It’s not uncommon to feel blocked. Especially in a culture which prioritizes hiding our feelings rather than expressing them safely and appropriately—except on movies and TV shows where we see people spraying their emotions all over each other to create drama.

And yet we know that it’s so harmful to supress our emotions. As much as we might want to be positive peppy people, we can create not just mental but even physical risks to our health if we don’t let all of our emotions have some time on stage.

For those of us who are focused on overcoming procrastination, managing our moods has been shown to be an incredibly important part of the equation. So by learning how to safely be present to our emotions and improving our Emotional Intelligence (EQ) we can actually be more productive and get things done more consistently!

Here are 10 ways to help yourself feel your feelings, and improve your EQ:

  • Be as gentle with yourself as you can.

Criticizing yourself is likely to make your emotional self close up like a clam, rather than open to expression of vulnerability. Treat your inner self with the soft kindness you would a wounded animal. Because you are wounded, and you deserve kindness.

  • Make a playlist of songs that bring out the emotions that feel blocked.

Listen to them when you’re alone or with that bestie you would trust with your deepest fears. Sing along, and let the emotions come flooding out. Carpool Karaoke anyone?

  • Watch emotional movies or TV shows.

Early seasons of This Is Us are guaranteed to get the waterworks going! If the feelings are in any way related to femininity or intergenerational trauma (and aren’t they always, at least a little bit?) Moana, Encanto, or the old classic Imitation of Life are likely to provide the catharsis you need. I'm getting teary just thinking about it...

  • Pull out a journal.

Everybody I know has a stack of empty journals somewhere collecting dust. Now is your chance to make use of them! Writing about whatever is on the top of our mind often clears the way for the feels to surface. Be patient with yourself and write whatever you feel, even “this is stupid why am I doing this”. You’ll likely be surprised where you end up…

  • Move your body.

Create a state of flow within yourself. Shadow boxing can help for anger, gentle stretching for tears. Shaking out arms and legs can help release the tension that forms when we are holding on too tight.

  • Breathe deeply.

Let your chest rise and fall. This loosens tension in your throat, and around your heart, two places closely linked to emotions.

  • Drink water.

Hydration is such a key component of our internal flow, that when we’re dehydrated we can feel that “emotional constipation” set in.

  • Go to where you feel safest.

Because our bodies are so wired to survive, any hint of danger—even emotional danger like people judging us—can make it hard for us to relax and be vulnerable. Find a place that feels utterly safe like your bed or bathtub, and let yourself connect to that awareness of safety.

  • Meditate.

Go figure that relaxing body and mind, and breathing deeply, would help to dislodge emotions that feel stuck. If you’re not already practicing though, this might be a tricky one to start with. Unless you use a guided meditation specifically designed to help you feel your feels! (Update: I made one for you!)

  • Talk to a professional.

Clergy, counselor, coach—somebody who is trained and experienced in holding space and helping you connect with what is holding you back. You don't have to go through this alone.

It’s totally understandable if you have a difficult time connecting with your feelings. But it’s so important that you let them out. I’m here if you need someone to talk to.


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