Do you ever get sad, or hurt, or angry? In response to other people especially?
Do you ever wonder what good it is to acknowledge those feelings when what you really want is for things to change?
I’ve had people tell me that acknowledging their feelings feels like telling them to calm down. “And if something’s going on that needs to change, I don’t want to calm down! I want to take action!”
I get that… but there’s something about that either-or kind of argument that doesn’t capture the whole picture. You know, either acknowledge feelings OR take action… one or the other… that dichotomy leaves something out for me.
In this episode of Inner Peace for Challenging Times, you’ll hear how my student, Abigail, found a way to express hurt feelings that was both self-loving and kind to the person who’d hurt her — and how it helped her feel more empowered and peaceful inside.
My student Abigail’s been learning from me how to acknowledge her feelings. She’s also in a really tough situation, with a husband who criticizes her harshly when he’s stressed. And lately… well, like the rest of us, he’s been very stressed.
Abigail grew up in a family where her mother and father had terrible fights. She’s determined not to repeat that in her own marriage. But it’s hard, because she doesn’t know what to do with the rage and sadness that come up in her when her husband speaks cruelly to her.
When Abigail first acknowledged her feelings, she put her hand on her heart. She felt the rage and sadness in there. She said to the feelings, “I know you are there.” She did everything I suggested.
And nothing happened. The feelings were as strong as ever. And — of course — her husband was still speaking to her in the same way on a regular basis.
So now what? Well… I did teach Abigail a next step. It’s an interesting one. It’s to say to the feelings inside, “I really acknowledge HOW HARD this is for you.” Just like that: “I really acknowledge HOW HARD this is for you.”
When Abigail did this, something very interesting happened. She felt some words rise up in her to express herself to her husband. AND she felt empowered to say them. The words were: “Remember, I’m the one who loves you. I don’t like to be spoken to that way.”
Wow. Talk about strong loving empowerment. Nothing could be more different from her mother screaming at her father… or from staying silent and just taking the abuse. I don’t know where she found those words. She doesn’t either! They just came. They came from the fact that she was facing her feelings of rage and sadness, allowing those feelings to be here, but not getting carried away by them.
Abigail told me she felt so full of self-love at that moment. That’s really what turned everything around. Earlier, when she heard her husband speaking harshly to her, it undermined her sense of worth within herself. Now, because she was treating herself so lovingly, the words that emerged were both loving and strong.
“I don’t deserve to be spoken to like that, please stop. And remember it’s me who loves you.”
I wish I could say her husband changed right away. He didn’t. Abigail needed to repeat this process the next time, and the next. But here’s what really touches me. In a way it doesn’t matter what her husband does, because Abigail has changed. She told me, “Every time I say this to my husband, a bigger space opens in me and I feel even more self-love.”
That’s the gift. And I feel like that’s the answer to the either-or dichotomy I was talking about. You remember, where you might think you EITHER acknowledge your feelings OR you take action? For Abigail, acknowledging her feelings — and acknowledging how hard the situation was for them — LED to her taking action. Empowered action that was loving of herself AND the other person.
Here’s what I find. When we act on our feelings without pausing first, we’re likely to escalate the situation.
But when we pause… acknowledge… get bigger than our feelings… we can find an action that actually helps the situation. And oh, don’t we need that these days!
Your feelings are here to support you. But it’s best not to simply act on them without pausing to sense what’s really right for the whole situation.
We have a wisdom that is bigger than our feelings AND it’s bigger than our logical mind. Pausing, acknowledging, and sensing can help us get there. And that’s important.
Would you like even more support trying steps like these? You can sign up for my Weekly Tips here and you’ll get even more helpful tips (like this one) that can make a huge difference for you.
Here’s to you… having a more peaceful life!
So here’s to you… having a more peaceful life.