When uncomfortable feelings come to visit like loneliness, sadness, grief or frustration, they are asking to be let in, known and felt. They want and need our attention, so we can experience the benefit of our feelings. They are arising, trying to be known, so they can show up, be felt and get the heck out of dodge (aka our bodies).
When we give feelings the luxury of being felt, they can go on their way; it’s up to us to let them—by first feeling them and thus releasing them. When we feel something roll in and let it in to be felt, we may let it linger far longer than need be. This is one of the reasons we avoid feelings; we think our feelings will come and stay, leaving us incapacitated by them.
More often than not, feelings come for a short period of time to be experienced then they leave us. When feelings come to town, it is because they have something to teach us. They leave once we have the opportunity to learn what their purpose is: to be felt and to glean wisdom from.
For instance, grief is our opportunity to feel the intense love that lingers after we experience loss. The intensity of our grief is directly linked to the enormity of love we feel for our beloved. Our feelings remain for as long as it takes to process the incomprehensible loss and work through the beliefs that form as a result (ie. I cannot go on without him/her).
When it comes to our feelings, we have to choose to let them in and we have to choose to let them go (by experiencing them). If we make the choice to linger in the sadness or loneliness long after we’ve expressed how we feel, we’ve decided to keep our feelings prisoner. We’ve chosen to stay sad, angry or upset in some regard. This is our choice and we have the free will to choose differently.
letting our feelings work for us
We are powerful beings that can exert our power of choice to feel a different way by getting up and choosing to have a different experience. This is only effective once we’ve let the emotion wash over us and move through us. Once we’ve chosen not to judge it, shove it down, push it away or avoid it, we can embrace the feelings. Once we have admitted how awful we happen to feel and let that feeling be felt in our bodies, we can feel the feeling in its entirety. Once we feel the feeling, we experience the relief of no longer carrying the emotion.
When we learn to process our feelings, we not only release the feelings, we decide to have a different experience thereafter. If we’ve wallowed in the feeling of loneliness (for example) that has captured our heart with sadness and despair (and felt the pain that comes with it), if we’ve let it show us just how terrible we feel and let the pain teach us something (ie. I want a different experience and need to do something to reach it), we can determine what we can do to conquer the loneliness.
Our feelings are our friends when we allow them to teach us something. When we let them teach us something, we can rise above the feeling by taking appropriate action. If we are lonely, we can call a friend, attempt to make new friends, get to be better friends with ourselves by embracing being alone, or think of someone else who may be lonely and befriend them.
the power of choice
We have the power of choice at our disposal. Staying in the despair of loneliness is a choice. We didn’t choose to feel lonely—it’s a direct result of our experience and reaction to the lack of connection in our lives—but if we choose to lock ourselves in our bedroom and not take proactive steps to resolve our loneliness, we’ve let the emotion rule our experience of life. We have given emotion power over our happiness and fulfillment.
Emotions are here for a purpose (and it isn't to ruin our lives). Emotions are actually energy in motion (e-motion); they move energy through us so we can regain balance and harmony. To allow emotions to serve their vital purpose, it takes embracing the feelings, feeling them and letting them go. If we’ve done all these things (and it takes courage and practice to do them), and choose to stay in the feeling, we’ve gone from the feeling in our heart to the thinking of our mind. We let our mind swoop in and usurp the situation by creating a story: "I am lonely. I will always be lonely and there’s nothing I can do about it."
The feeling may have past, but the story has the power to stay long after—if we let it. The mind can be powerful, but we are powerful enough to overcome the patterns of our mind. There is always a choice at our disposal. We can choose to go back to our hearts and let the pain teach us something (so we can adjust our approach to life and start reacting differently.)
If it’s loneliness, we can thank it for showing us that we crave connection from fellow humans or a deeper intimacy with ourselves and our Higher Power (so loneliness is less of a factor). If it's grief, we can thank it for showing us the depths to which our love for someone reaches. We can be grateful for the gift of love we received.
It’s always up to us. Feelings are our friend, not our enemy. They can become our enemy if we ignore them. Learning to embrace feelings—so they may come and go—lets their purpose thrive. This is when we begin to thrive and prosper with harmony and balance.