Sitting With Feeling

When something is bothering me,

I write a song that tells my feelings.

Loretta Lynn

In “I Know I’m In There Somewhere,” Helene G. Brenner, PhD, writes:

Feelings, while not facts, are a highly concentrated form of information with their life-affirming story to tell.  There are no bad feelings–only feelings that get stuck.  And there are no bad thoughts or parts of you–only parts that you have exiled and don’t listen to.  No person or authority in the world can tell you what “should be” going on in your heart, nor do you have to prove, to yourself or to anyone else, that you have a “right” to feel whatever it is you’re feeling.

While American culture adulates people who project an unflaggingly positive, cheerful, “can do” spirit,  mental (and physical) health doesn’t mean being happy all the time.  It’s about being resilient, knowing how to heal and recover from losses and difficulties, being flexible rather than brittle.  To do this, we need to allow feelings of hurt, grief, fear or rage to be listened to, not suppressed:

1. Acknowledge.  Human beings are wired to run from difficult frightening or uncomfortable feelings.  The running can take the form of intellectualizing, minimizing, spacing out, panicking, blowing up or going to pieces. When a feeling is bothering you, notice the sensations you feel in your body and simply sit with them.

2. Being With.   Breathe deeply, step back from what you’re doing and notice what is going on inside you, without judgment.  Name the feeling as accurately as possible, “I’m feeling furious right now.”  Take a full minute to sit with the feeling and the sensations experienced by your body.  Notice, observe and describe the elemental feelings that you didn’t know were there, “It’s a big black hole that feels unseen and unloved.” Don’t impede its flow by thinking about how you can try to change or resolve it.  Just notice what else shows up.

3. Compassion.   Go as close to the bone as you can in telling the exact truth about what you feel.  In identifying your feelings, you free yourself to hear them out and learn about them without becoming them.  When you acknowledge the truth of your feelings, the grip of the past loosens and you begin to open up to possibilities.   In paying attention to what the pure feeling has to tell you, you allow an answer to present itself.

Click on “Leave a Comment” above to share what helps you deal with difficult emotions.

© Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Photography for the Goddess in Every Wife and Mother


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mountain
    Jun 11, 2012 @ 02:58:54

    I am not one that shares much of myself, as a matter of fact I really only shared my life openly with one person in my entire life. Why that one person? I never had to ask myself that because I just knew she was the one that cared to know about me and always had something to add or maybe just listened. It was a liberating time in my life that I actually felt that nothing stood in my way and the best was yet to come no matter what I needed to overcome.

    Having found this blog is like finding that second opportunity to feel free and express my thoughts because of the important topics with real meanings that are brought up for discussion or opinion. As I read these topics I usually find something
    that is important to me and I am excited to add to the thoughts and the fun. It is an amazing similarity or maybe not really that amazing. 😉

    It is only the last few years that I learned to sit back take that deep breath relax and think of whatever it is I must put my efforts to without jumping in with overwhelming emotion. Positive thoughts that the best is still out there and it will come my way. I learned a lot about myself from the person I talked about above.

    Thank you Sharky for allowing me to participate in such a thoughtful blog.



    • Powerful Goddess Photography
      Jun 11, 2012 @ 09:58:34

      A man’s enlightened perspective is so very welcome here, Mountain! Thank you for always being generous with your praise and thoughts…


  2. Jill Martin
    Oct 25, 2012 @ 10:30:51

    So glad I found this post today. Going through a rupture and really appreciate this gentle reminder to breathe and acknowledge my feelings. thank you


  3. Richmond Hill agent
    Nov 02, 2012 @ 23:34:57

    This is really interesting, You are an excessively professional blogger.
    I have joined your feed and stay up for in the hunt for more of your fantastic post.
    Also, I have shared your site in my social networks


    • Powerful Goddess Photography
      Nov 05, 2012 @ 13:19:19

      Oh, joy! I so appreciate your following my blog, Richmond. Thank you for finding me and for sharing my work with the people you love!


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