I talk a lot about feelings with my clients. Feelings and thoughts are the backbones of our lives; they dictate our actions and our results, and the experience we have throughout the days and years.
One of the things my teacher Brooke talks about is accepting our feelings. I’ve noticed that, for me, it’s helpful to actually look at this as a second level of feelings - our Metafeelings. These are the feelings we have about our feelings, and they’re caused by our thoughts just the same, but they’re fortunately much simpler to think about. There are pretty much only two - approval and disapproval.
When you have a thought, say “I did something wrong,” and it causes you to feel shame, that’s a pretty simple equation. What gets us into additional trouble is when we think we shouldn’t have that shame; we so often reject it, or try to cover it up with overthinking, overeating, overdrinking, overanything. That means that our feeling of shame is compounded by our Metafeeling of disapproval for that shame - and it just makes us feel (and act) worse…usually creating more shame for ourselves. Not a pretty picture.
The way we can release ourselves from this cycle is to practice approval of our human emotions. Remember, every emotion in this human life is a perfectly acceptable emotion to feel, and we’ll have 50% negative and 50% positive, no matter what. Choosing ahead of time that every emotion is an okay one to experience will set you free from arguing with them; this isn’t just about choosing only pretty, easy feelings so everything is perfect all the time, it’s also about embracing the pain and fear and discomfort of being a human.
As the Buddha says, pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. When we feel pain, and we judge it or fight it, we cause suffering. That’s all it is - a Metafeeling.
The question is, are you willing to start practicing approval of all your feelings? Allowing them to exist in your body and sending yourself love no matter what? Love for the shame, for the fear, for the doubt, for the resistance, just as much as for the joy and love and ease?
Accepting and approving of your feelings doesn’t mean you don’t keep choosing and generating ones you like the best. It just means that when others come up - you’re okay with it. You don’t have to fight, you don’t have to run, you don’t have to buffer with food or drink or video games. Just allow the feeling to be in you and decide you love yourself anyway.