Ep #5: Feeling Your Feelings

Strong as a Working Mom with Carrie Holland | Feeling Your Feelings
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This week, we are talking about feeling your feelings. I can already feel the sighs of resistance coming, because trust me, I am so far from a mushy-squishy person. If you’re anything like me, I know the notion of feeling your feelings doesn’t sound like much fun, but I promise, it is so important.

While you might believe that feeling your feelings and talking about your feelings makes you weak, the truth is it does the exact opposite. Like deadlifts or strength training in general, doing it anyway is what will make you stronger. It doesn’t have to be cringy, and in fact, feeling your feelings can be an incredibly practical process.

Join me on the podcast to discover what it means to feel your feelings. I’m breaking it down into two components: creating awareness of your feelings, and then what the heck you can do with them after. I’m showing you four ways we can manage our feelings, and which will facilitate the biggest growth and change for you.

To celebrate the launch of the show, I’m giving away a wellness journal to five lucky listeners who follow, rate and review the show. I want your honest opinion and feedback so I can create an awesome show, and make it a useful, fun resource for you.

Click here to learn more about the contest and how to enter!

What You Will Discover:

  • Why feeling your feelings doesn’t make you weak, but in fact, makes you stronger.
  • 4 steps to creating awareness of your feelings.
  • How to find the connection between your thoughts and your feelings.
  • One question that will help you take ownership of your thoughts.
  • What to do once you have awareness of your feelings.
  • 4 ways to manage your feelings.

Listen to the Full Episode:

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Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

You are listening to the Strong as a Working Mom podcast, Episode #5. You ready to talk about feelings? I promise it won’t be mushy. Let’s do it.

Welcome to the Strong as a Working Mom podcast. If you’re balancing career, family, wellness, and some days sanity, you are in the right place. This is where high achieving, busy working moms get the tools they need to eat, move, and think. I’m your host, physician, personal trainer and Certified Life Coach Carrie Holland. Let’s do this.

Hey, how are you? What’s new? What’s good? I just got back from lunch. And it reminded me that I wanted to share a quick and easy tip that actually came from a client phone call. And, it was so good. I told her I was going to steal it. It’s the non-junk quick fix, NJQF. It almost sounds like a Myers Briggs Personality Type; I’m ISFJ by the way, but that’s not what this is.

The NJQF, the non-junk quick fix, it is a quick and easy meal that you have ready when things go sideways. So, this is the meal that you’ve always got on hand, so that in a pinch, you know you’ve got yourself covered. And, there’s a few things that qualify your NJQF. Okay?

First, it’s generally healthy, so that it keeps you from going through the drive-thru for a burger and fries. Second, it’s quick. The whole idea is to get it done and get it done fast, so that you can get back to whatever is turning your schedule upside down.

Third, you always have the ingredients on hand. This is stuff that is always on your grocery list, you always have it in the house so that it is ready to go. That’s the whole point. And then, last but not least, this is optional, it does not have to be pretty. In fact, generally, it doesn’t look pretty; it’s pulled together and it’s dinner, or it’s lunch in my case.

So, for me, my NJQF is egg whites, two pieces of Ezekiel® toast, and an entire bag of frozen broccoli. Once I heat it up, I literally douse the broccoli in sriracha. I’ll be the first to admit that this is unconventional and I have a problem with sriracha. But the point is this, while the meal is not pulled together, we always have those things in the house. We always have egg whites, there’s always broccoli, and there’s always Ezekiel toast. So, I know that in a pinch, when things are going crazy, that’s what I go to.

Try and come up with this for yourself and for your family. What’s something that you can make your MJQF, your non-junk quick fix, you can pull it together in no time and get back to your day? So, I would love it… If you have these things, share it in the comments to the show. I’m always looking for new, fast, easy ideas. All right? There’s your quick tip.

But today, the big stuff we’re going to talk about, is feeling your feelings. Okay, so I am going to stop right there because I can feel the sigh coming on. Because that’s what I did, when I learned about feeling my feelings. I know that feeling your feelings doesn’t sound like fun, but that’s okay. And you do it anyway, because like dead lifts, feeling your feelings will make you stronger.

I said it before, anytime I can find a strength training analogy, I’m going to toss it in there. So here is one, I couldn’t pass it up. Let me clarify a couple of things from the get-go. Feeling your feelings does not make you weak. Feeling your feelings does not make you weak. In fact, it’s the exact opposite.

When you practice feeling your feelings, and know that you’re capable of handling any feeling and come out okay on the other side, because you’ve got your own back, that is where the money’s at. That’s growth. That’s confidence. And that, is absolutely awesome.

Second, you do not have to be a mushy-squishy person in order to feel your feelings, God knows I am proof. I am not a mushy-squishy person. I hate schmoopy love ballads. I don’t even know if schmoopy is a word, but I use all time. I change the channel whenever Ed Sheeran comes on; please don’t hate me.

I am sarcastic. I use four letter words. Mushy is not a word I would use to describe myself, but I feel my feelings. And, I don’t think that that makes me weak. And, it does not make you weak either. So, I want to put those things out there from the start, because we got some stuff to talk about.

I’m going to break this up into two major components. First, we’re going to talk about creating awareness of your feelings. I know that sounds like buzzwords, but hang with me for a second. Because once we create awareness of our feelings, then we’re going to talk about what the heck you do with them. Okay?

So, let’s talk about creating awareness. Why in the world does this even matter? I’m actually going to call on a book by Jen Sincero, it’s called, Badass Habits. Now, if you’ve not read any of Jen Sincero’s work, I’m just going to put it out there right now, I am a huge fan. Please, after you finish this, go check her out. She is hysterical. Her books are hysterical. But she has such great information and she wraps it in sarcasm, and all kinds of four-letter words, and I promise you will laugh and learn, all at the same time. So, please, go check her out. She’s amazing.

But she said this, in this book, she said, I’m paraphrasing here, but she said; that trying to change your life without being self-aware is like trying to use a map to get somewhere, when you don’t know where you’re starting from; you’re not going to get very far. Right? I love that.

So, in order to change your feelings, you have to know where you’re starting from. You have to know where you are on the map, so that you can get to somewhere else. Let’s talk about the steps to creating awareness. I really like steps. I like order of operations. You know, I love math. I like check boxes. So, here it is, these are the steps.

First, you become your own observer. What the heck does that mean? It’s really simple, it means you wake up and come off of autopilot. So often, we don’t even pay attention to the things that we’re thinking. We’re just too busy thinking them. And, there’s all kinds of estimations on the number of thoughts we have; it’s in the tens of thousands. I am not sure how people figured that out. But we have a lot of thoughts during the day. So many, that we just aren’t aware of them.

I’m encouraging you to wake up and come off of autopilot, and get into your thoughts. Here’s the analogy or the visual that I will give you. I envision Jiminy Cricket sitting in my brain quietly observing. Why did I come up with Jiminy Cricket? I have no idea. I don’t even like Pinocchio.

But I imagine him sitting in my brain quietly observing what’s going on. And the key word here is quietly. There is no judgment, there is no finger wagging, there is no, “Carrie, why are you thinking those thoughts?” It doesn’t work that way. Same for you, there is no judgment here. Just get into your brain and start to pay attention to what’s going on.

The second step is, look at your scroll. Now, if you remember from the previous episode, I made the analogy that our thoughts are like a Facebook™, Instagram™, social media app of choice, scroll. Your brain is a scroll full of sentences. And, those sentences are thoughts. I’m asking you look at your scroll, slow down for a second, and don’t use your thumb to flip through the screen, right?

Slow it down and pay attention to the sentences that are on that scroll. What are the sentences that come up? What are the sentences that are running through your brain? Those are your thoughts. I’ll take it even further and I’ll ask, can you put the scroll under a microscope? Now, we’re really getting visual here. Can you look at those sentences, go to your thoughts and take a really close look at them?

Again, sometimes we’re in such a hurry, and things are so fast, and things happen so quickly, and we’re processing so much information, that we just glaze over it, we don’t even think about our thoughts. But I’m asking you to slow it down, get to the scroll, and stick it under a microscope, so that you can really examine what’s going on there. And remember too, the majority of the sentences that are in there, are thoughts. They are opinions; they are not fact.

The fourth step in this process, is to connect the sentences in your scroll with the feelings that they produce. Take your thoughts and connect them with your feelings. And, here’s the question to ask yourself in order to do that. So, when you have a thought, ask yourself: How does it feel when I think that thought? How does it feel when I think that thought?

And, this is such a powerful question because it allows you to take ownership of your thoughts. It allows you to connect your thoughts to your feelings. Remember, you get to choose your thoughts. They are always your choice. And, when you choose those thoughts, they create your feelings.

So, put these together; connect the sentences in your scroll with the feelings that they create for you. I want to illustrate this in an example, because I think that it makes more sense to apply these steps in an example. I’m going to use this example because I see it all the time. It is so common. Here it is.

Imagine that you have been working really hard to eat well, exercise, drink water, because you’re trying to lose weight. You’ve been at it for a couple of weeks, and then you go to step on the scale and you see a number that you don’t like. Maybe the scale has not budged at all. And again, this is so common. So, let’s pick this apart a little bit.

Imagine being your quiet observer as you step on the scale. You’ve got your Jiminy Cricket watching over your scroll. What’s on your scroll? Slow down the sentences, see what’s on there. Some of the things that I get most commonly from clients: It is impossible for me to lose weight. I will never get this weight off. This is too hard.

All three of those things, those are all thoughts. Those are all sentences that often have been repeated enough that they become your beliefs, become your truth. So, there’s your sentences. Whatever those thoughts are, pull them out, put them under the microscope and take a look at them.

And then, what are the feelings that you associate with those thoughts? So, for the example, if you’re thinking it is impossible for me to lose weight, ask yourself that question; how does it feel when I think that thought? And then, answer the question. Come up with a word, come up with an emotion, because this is how you make the connection. Look at your thoughts, and determine how you feel when you think that way.

If this sounds complicated, you can also take the reverse approach. If it’s easier for you to name the feeling, start there. So, if you’re feeling frustrated, after you step on the scale, ask yourself; why am I feeling frustrated?

And, you may have a number of answers. You may think, “Every time I try something, it fails. I’ve never been capable of keeping the weight off. It’s really hard to do this.” Again, those are all thoughts. But you just went backwards; you started with the feeling, and then got to the thought that produced that feeling. That’s why this is so cool.

Okay, so this is how, we just went through the steps, I’m going to summarize. This is how you create awareness. You start by being your own silent observer, that’s my Jiminy Cricket, you get to choose who you want. Look at the scroll of thoughts in your brain, slow it down. Slow down the scroll, and then put it under a microscope. Get to the sentences, get to those thoughts, then, take those thoughts on your scroll and connect them with your feelings.

Now that you’ve created awareness of your feelings, and you’ve been able to name the emotion, what the heck do you do with it? Let me remind you, and if you need more on this go back to episode four, we talked about this in a whole lot of detail. But remember, that feelings start in your brain, and they travel out to your body.

So, when you feel angry, your face gets red and hot, right? It starts in your brain and then travels out to your body, that’s a feeling. When you experience a feeling, you’ve got four options of how you can handle it. I like learning tools and mnemonics and that kind of stuff, so I’m going to share one here, this is the four R’s.

You have four ways that you can manage a feeling, and we’re going to go through each one. Those four things you can do: You can Resist. You can React to. You can Retreat from. Or, you can Receive a feeling. We’re going to go through each one of those, starting with resisting.

So, resisting, essentially, this is shutting down. This is, by far and away, my go-to move; ask my husband, I guarantee you he will agree. The way that I imagined resisting, it’s basically like carrying around a smoldering match in your back pocket, and eventually it is going to burn your booty. Meaning, the feeling is there, but you’re basically doing everything in your power to ignore it, and not do anything about it.

Meanwhile, inside, you feel miserable. And you will most definitely know if you’re doing this because you go about your day, but you’re not getting any relief, you’re not feeling any better. It’s because you have to get that match out of your pocket. You got to take that thing out and get rid of it.

Another example of resisting emotion is denying it altogether. Meaning, you just straight-up do not address the emotion. You deny that anything’s wrong, and you try to convince yourself and essentially everyone else around you, that everything is good.

How many times have you answered, “fine” to your partner when he or she asked, “Hey, is something wrong?” When in fact, there was something very wrong that you just didn’t want to talk about. What I learned, though, from my husband, and this is hysterical, he told me that ‘fine’ actually stands for; feelings I’m not expressing. And I laughed, because I mean, it’s true. I have no idea where he got that from, I’m not sure. But oh, is it true.

So, you can either shove it in your back pocket, like a smoldering match, or just straight-up deny it altogether; those are examples of resisting.

Second is, you can react to an emotion. An example of this would be shouting at the clerk at the grocery store after you came from work, where your boss was really rude to you. I think of reacting basically, as a dramatic, outward show of emotion. It is an outward expression of an emotion that is meant really to be felt inside.

This is not to say that you shouldn’t cry or show emotion. But there’s a big difference between bursting into tears when you’re sad, versus processing the feeling of sad. There’s a difference between shouting at a stranger when you’re angry, and processing the feeling of anger.

And again, you will know the difference because when all is said and done, if you’re reacting to your emotions, you won’t feel better. There’s no relief because you’re still carrying around that feeling with you. So that’s reacting, I think of that as drama.

Next, is retreating. Retreating is… I equate retreating with buffering. Let’s go back to our weight loss example, because this is another really common one. So, you step on that scale, you see a number and think to yourself, “It is impossible for me to lose weight,” and you feel frustrated. But instead of processing your frustration, you decide to say, “Forget it,” and you eat a bag of Cheetos® instead; that is retreating.

Anytime you choose to retreat to overeating, overdrinking, over shopping, overworking, over anything, you are retreating from your feelings. You’re avoiding them by buffering. The problem is, our world makes it really easy to retreat from your feelings: Amazon Prime™, social media, Netflix™, Uber Eats™. I mean, you were literally a button-click away from retreat.

Retreating is an attempt to replace a negative feeling with a numbing action. But here’s the irony of it all, you may get short-term relief, but generally you don’t feel better afterwards. So, in my example, not only are you stuck with the frustration that you haven’t processed, but now you just downed a bag of Cheetos on top of it.

This is how the cycle perpetuates itself. This is one of the key pieces to emotional eating right here. So, that’s retreating. Okay, so far, we’ve covered resisting, reacting to, and retreating from your feelings. None of those will give you long term relief.

Here, the last R, is receiving your feelings. That’s where the money’s at. And, that is also the hardest. Of course, it is. Because you did not sign up for the easy way out. Receiving means that you allow the feeling to be there with you. It means that you sit with whatever feeling it is that you’re having, and you let it be with you for as long as it takes for that feeling to pass. It means you allow it to take up space in your brain, you recognize it, you name it, you own it.

Here’s the caveat: When you feel an icky feeling, and I know icky’s not very scientific, don’t beat yourself up. Okay? In the scale example, if you notice yourself going down a negative spiral, don’t wag your finger, don’t swear at yourself and beat yourself up about having negative feelings.

Remember, you’re human, negative feelings are part of the deal. You just allow those negative feelings to be there. Another analogy, to make this a little easier to understand, I learned this in my coach training and I really liked it.

Imagine carrying that negative feeling around with you like a heavy bag. So, you notice it, and maybe it’s uncomfortable, but you carry it with you anyway. I shared this with a client once, and later, she sent me a picture of this really nice, fancy beautiful grey bag, and asked if it was okay if she carried around her feelings with her, in that beautiful gray purse. Sure, no problem.

And honestly, I don’t care if you carry your feelings around with you in $5,000 Gucci™ bag or in a paper bag from the grocery store, you just carry it with you. Meaning, you will allow it to sit there with you, for as long as it takes to dissipate.

Let me make it also clear, this does not mean you tattoo it across your chest and say, “I’m having an emotion!” No, no, that’s not what I’m talking about. Instead, you just own it, you sit with it. So, try this. Try, the next time you start feeling yourself getting into a negative spiral, name the emotion. Going back to our example; I feel frustrated. Then, describe it. What does it feel like in your body? Jaw clenched? Is your face hot? Do you feel tension in your skin? Do you feel a twinge in your gut? Get really specific.

When you’re describing your emotion, imagine you’re describing it to a Martian who has no idea what feelings are; what does it feel like? I have, most definitely, done this before. I have kids. And, when mom needs a timeout, I head to the closet. So, I tried this: I slowed myself down. And I got to, “I feel irritated.” And then, I thought about, “Okay, well, what am I feeling?” I felt this angry pit in my stomach. My skin felt hot. Jaw clenching is one of my go-tos.

I sat there with it for a few minutes. I took a few deep breaths, there was no Kumbaya, there’s no Enya, there’s no incense. There were maybe, a few four-letter words going in my head, but I let it sit there. And then, once I collected myself, I emerged from that closet and I got on with dinner. You know, I still carried it around in that bag, but I owned it.

Here is the other thing, and I think that this is, again, this is another caveat: When you do this, say, “I feel frustrated.” There’s a difference between ‘I am frustrated’ versus ‘I feel frustrated’. I know it’s subtle, and I know it’s just words, but I truly value words, and I think that they are important.

Here’s why this matters: You are not your feelings. When you say ‘I’m stressed’ over and over again, remember, that will eventually become your truth. Because when those sentences, when we choose those thoughts and say those sentences over and over again, they become our truth, they become our beliefs. Is that really what you want?

On the flip side, when you say, “I feel stressed,” you create space, you give yourself some distance between you and your feelings. And that, is what allows you to take authority over them. Stressed is not who you are. Stressed is not your identity. So, be specific, and say it to yourself: ‘I feel’ and then name the emotion, make it separate from yourself.

So, here’s the other thing: I wish that I could tell you how long it takes for these negative feelings to go away, that would be really awesome. But the answer to it is this; It takes as long as it takes. And I know, it’s like saying your kid, when they tell you, “It hurts when I do this,” “Then don’t do it.” But it’s the truth.

You sit with your feelings for as long as it takes. You carry around that heavy bag with you for as long as you need to. And, you continue to get on with your day. I want to remind you; no feeling can harm you. I mentioned this previously, in Episode Four, but answer this for yourself; what is the worst thing that happens to you when you feel your feelings? Think of the worst emotion possible; embarrassed, humiliated, rejected, grief, whatever it is, what is the worst that happens when you feel it? You feel it. That’s it.

I’ll be the first to admit, this is a practice. The first few times you try this, you may find that it’s really hard to be aware. You may not be able to do it in the heat of the moment. Sometimes the feelings come on so fast, and so automatic, that you just don’t give yourself the time to slow down and really see what’s going on in your mind.

If that’s the case, that is okay. You can go back later, to that moment when you stepped on the scale and saw that number, and get back into your brain and look at those sentences, and really examine what you were thinking. From there, you can take that, and make the connection between how your thinking affects your feelings.

My hope is that the more you do this, the easier it becomes. And, the more you can start doing it in real time, instead of going back to it later. So, this is putting in your reps, right? Another strength training analogy: this is practice. This is how you get better at creating awareness, learning your thoughts, and connecting your thoughts to your feelings. I’ll be the first to say there is nothing mushy about this.

I hope that I’ve been able to take something that can, sometimes be kind of cringy, and make it more practical. I encourage you to start practicing this. Start naming your feelings, and then see which of the four R’s do you use to respond to them. You can probably ask the people around you and they will tell you.

Practice receiving and allowing your feelings. And remember, that no feeling can harm you. No feeling can harm you. The sooner you do this and realize that you can handle any feeling that comes your way, and come out on the other side and still have your own back, you are on fire. That is how you grow. That is how you change. That’s how you take control.

Please let me know what do you think of this. I would love it if you shared your thoughts with me on this practice feeling, and I look forward to catching up with you again next week. All right, bye for now.

To celebrate the launch of the show, I’m going to be giving away a Wellness Journal to five listeners who follow, rate, and review the show. You do not have to give it five stars, although I certainly hope you love what you’ve heard so far. But more than anything, please give me your honest opinion and feedback so I can create an awesome show for you.

I would love it if you shared your questions and thoughts, so I can make the show a useful and fun resource for you. Visit CarrieHollandMD.com/podcastlaunch to learn more about the contest and how to enter. I’ll be announcing winners on the show in an upcoming episode. See you next week.

Thanks for listening to Strong as a Working Mom. If you want more information on how to eat, move, and think so you can live in the body you want with the mind match, visit me at CarrieHollandMD.com

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