I have emotions.
I used to think that having and showing emotion was weak. I would get so angry with myself if I got emotional during a conversation or in front of others. I thought that self-control and perfectionism and being tough were the way to have ultimate self-mastery. The harder I tried the worse I became at controlling my emotions.
Then I heard in support groups that emotions were natural and human. I learned that feeling joy and happiness requires that I also feel sadness and other “negative” emotions. Letting myself feel was at first terrifying. Emotion boiled out of me in giant overwhelming waves. I was tempted to try and control these also, but what worked best was letting go and trusting God. As I learned to accept and feel my feelings and go through them, I was able to let them go and the waves became smaller and more manageable.
Feeling my feelings was really hard at first, but over time it became easier. I am still working on being comfortable with my feelings and accepting the things that happen in my life. As I become more comfortable with my feelings, I feel more balanced and able to handle my emotions. I know that “in order to heal, I need to feel”.
My healing is never “done”.
I used to think that I would quickly go through the steps in my support group meetings and be done and healed and not need to ever return. But, I find that even though I attend my support meetings regularly, my bad habits of fear and anxiety, isolation and worry, feeling victimized and helpless often return when something “bad” happens.
I used to live with those negative feelings all the time, and when they return with a vengeance they surprise me and remind how miserable life used to be. My support meetings remind me of the atonement and how much the atonement has changed me and my life. Even though the people around me have not changed or chosen to find help and healing, and my circumstances have not changed, I have changed immensely.
I know that I can choose happiness and joy. I know now that I can feel my feelings, go through them and then choose to let them go. I know that I can choose to take care of myself and be kind to myself. I know I can be kind to those around me and let them live their life without trying to control them.
I choose now to attend support meetings, because I need the constant reminders to trust God and trust His plan for me. Without my support group, I quickly return to my old painful ways. But I know better now and I know how to regain my serenity – I attend a support meeting, and choose to give my negative feelings and my loved ones over to the care of my Savior and let Him take care of them and me. I’m learning that using the atonement and healing is never “done”, it is ongoing.
I am human and make mistakes.
Being human is hard. I have always had trouble keeping my emotions under control. I cry easily – when I’m happy, sad, scared, worried, etc. This does not serve me very well. People did not understand and sometimes would misunderstand and think I was trying to manipulate them. I would also become very emotional when other people were emotional. This would sometimes lead to escalations.
I’m a very quiet person and when I get emotional I do not think very well and don’t know what to say. Conversation is very important, especially in relationships. Imagine trying to have a conversation about a subject that I felt very strongly about and my loved one thought something totally different. It was impossible and would either end up in an escalation or fight or I would go to bed crying and mad at myself for not being able to express myself. I also thought that if I agreed to something under duress, that I had to live with it.
Over time, I have learned to “detach with love”, meaning I can think more clearly and without crying during a conversation. I’ve also given myself permission to go back and amend something that I later regret saying or agreeing to. It’s OK to change my mind or my opinion. I’m still working on these things. Everyone is human and makes mistakes. I give myself permission to be human.
Feelings are part of life – they are part of what make me human. Being human is okay and having feelings is okay. It’s important to feel my negative emotions, go through them, and then be able to let them go. Sometimes I run away from feelings. Running away from emotions can look like many things: addictions, obsessions, not being present, hiding, reading, trying to control other people and situations, running away, etc.
I run away because I don’t want to feel bad. Negative emotions include: anger, being tired, feeling lonely, stress, sadness, feeling bored, being hungry, not feeling good enough, low self-esteem, fear, pain anxiety, confusion, guilt, helplessness, hopelessness, etc. But, good and bad feelings are part of life. And dealing with them in healthy ways is one of the things I am here on earth to learn.
I can feel emotions, go through them and let them go. It’s okay to feel deeply, to cry and feel bad. And then I need to let them go – sometimes this is the hard part. I can write in a journal or go for a walk and think. I can pray and tell God exactly what I’m feeling and ask for help. I might get insights about a situation that may have caused the feeling, sometimes the bad feelings just go away, or sometimes I get ideas of things I can do. I know God knows what I feel and what I’m going through, but when I take the time to actually tell Him everything it really helps. I can ask myself: how old is this feeling and what is this feeling about? Sometimes it is a childhood wound that just keeps popping up until I acknowledge it and heal my inner child.
I feel many more good emotions of peace, joy and happiness when I take care of my bad feelings. Ignoring and numbing my bad feelings makes me unable to feel my good emotions too!