When I Let Myself Feel, I Find My Strength

· January 15, 2017

It’s in our nature to feel, and yet, we insist on putting up walls to hide our true selves. We don’t let ourselves feel emotions, feelings, and experiences the way they really are. When we feel fragile and unprotected, we lean too much on reason and move away from our true selves.

We’ve been building our strength since we were children, since we don’t often feel deserving of affection. In the face of fear and emotional pain, we’ve learned to seclude ourselves, adapting to a world that terrifies us, believing that it’s full of danger.

We’ve learned that when we show that we have weaknesses and difficulties, we can get hurt. When faced with breakups, disillusionment, and disappointment, we’ve felt the pain and profound distress that comes with opening ourselves up to our experiences. But closing ourselves off to emotion isn’t the answer.

“We tend to split our minds from our emotions. We’re so used to letting our minds dominate that we forget our feelings and our bodies. Notice how many times you begin a sentence with ‘I think’ rather than ‘I feel.'”

-Elisabeth Kübler-Ross-

What avoiding emotion entails

In building these walls, we learn an entire repertoire of strategies to hide who we are. We learn to act automatically, adapting ourselves to prevailing prejudices and stereotypes, to our environment. We believe that there’s a normal way to be and act, and we have to get as close to it as possible.

The belief that there’s an appropriate way to behave is what keeps us from being who we really are. We’re constantly fighting against what we feel, what we want, what motivates us, what excites us. We spend a lot of energy on not acknowledging our feelings.

girl on boat

We close ourselves off so much that we become insensitive to injustice and to the people we love and care about. We act automatically, out of obligation, completely losing the essence of our character, affection, and kindness.

Closing ourselves off to our feelings means letting life go on without us, as hope and love are lost.

Letting ourselves feel

You’ve tried to avoid your feelings in many situations, right? You’ve fought with yourself to become insensitive to something you don’t want to experience. But avoiding pain is precisely what leads to permanent suffering. 

The biggest strength that resides in us is letting ourselves feel and experience. We’re afraid to let this happen and become trapped or lost in this state, which is what causes us to run away so quickly and avoid experiencing our feelings.

Experiencing things that are unpleasant is necessary because it represents growth. Maturity and happiness are fed by pain and sadness. When we feel these things, we learn from experience and value everything that is pleasant and beneficial to us more.

“There is no fortune or misfortune in the world, there is only the comparison of one state with another. Only those who have experienced the height of misfortune can feel supreme happiness. It’s necessary to have wanted to die, my friend, to know how good and beautiful life is.”

-Alejandro Dumas-

Strength lies in vulnerability

Vulnerability is often confused with weakness. It is part of letting yourself feel what you need to feel, being honest, and accepting that there are many things that can affect you, but that doesn’t mean that you have a weak character.

woman in water

Through the acceptance of your vulnerability, you become open to experiencing the feelings and emotions that interactions evoke. It’s a natural state of being, so why hide behind a mask that doesn’t really represent you and makes you unhappy? It’s your own decision to remove this mask. When you stop avoiding and repressing your feelings, you can start to be.

“What I am is good enough if I would only be it openly.”

-Carl Rogers-

The only way to grow and get to know yourself is to show yourself with all your vulnerabilities. This involves a lot of courage, authenticity, maturity, and strength. When you show yourself in such a natural way, you make it possible to get the same out of your environment: sincere bonds based on love, not on appearances.

 

Learning to Understand Our Feelings