Our culture gives us so many opportunities to be distracted, it's become easier and easier to avoid negative feelings. Sadness, anger, frustration, embarrassment, disappointment, and fear are all incredibly vulnerable emotions, so we numb ourselves through social media, food, or alcohol.
I've definitely reached for a cupcake when I feel my cortisol levels surging, whiled away hours on Facebook to avoid budgeting, or had a couple of glasses of wine to take the edge off a tough day at work. But numbing our emotions through avoidant behaviors just exacerbates the problem.
Just like food, we must digest our emotions. Otherwise, like a stopped-up digestive system, unprocessed emotions can manifest as headaches, fatigue, irritation, anxiety attacks, and depression.
If we allow ourselves to feel our feelings and process our emotions (especially the not-so-good ones), they naturally dissipate and let us find our way back to an equilibrium that's so much better than an imbalance we are constantly running away from.
Feeling our feelings is risky business, and it doesn’t always feel good. But by letting ourselves "go there," we learn how to handle them, build self-trust, and master the essential tools for healing and living a joyful life.
So, the next time you find yourself trying to avoid a crummy emotion, explore the idea of feeling your way through it. Get curious about it, and probe yourself a bit further rather than just numbing it. My hunch is the outcome will be far worth the risk.