Do you even know what you are feeling half the time?
Sometimes it takes more investigation and thoughtfulness to determine our feelings than we think.
For over a year, I was having periods of time when I found it very hard to breathe. It would last for days, sometimes weeks. I would inhale, but it felt like my lungs were so tight, no air was getting in them.
I learned to accept it. Meaning, I didn’t think, “I wish it wasn’t happening or that it shouldn’t be happening.” I accepted it was a part of my days. I did this because resisting only made the symptoms worse.
I told myself. I am breathing. I am alive. My lungs are working. I will figure this out.
(Side note: I was very aware this was an emotional response, and not an ailment that required a doctor’s attention. I do recommend seeing a doctor if you are ever in doubt.)
I thought my tight lungs and difficulty breathing were because of anxiety. My mind was at peace, so I thought maybe I was having an out of my control physical reaction to outside stressors.
I tried chamomile tea, walking, resting, thought work, and even CBD oil.
None of them made my breathing better.
Finally, during one of the bouts that had lasted over a week, I surveyed my memory to think about exactly when I had experienced this in the past.
Let’s see… when I was abruptly asked to leave a job I loved, when our beloved family cat died, in the weeks after my father passed away from cancer in the darkness of night, with me at his side.
Mmmm… yes. These are all stressful. It must be anxiety.
Then it hit me.
This isn’t anxiety at all. This. Is. Grief.
(I know, I know, I am writing about grief AGAIN!!! But this isn’t really about grief. This is about knowing what you are feeling. I promise.)
At that point I named it. I am feeling… grief.
I described to myself how it felt. “I am feeling tightness in my chest. It makes it hard to breathe. It is constant and firm. When I close my eyes, I see dull gray colors. It feels heavy and full.”
Then an amazing thing happened. After feeling this every day for over a week… it lifted.
When I knew what it was, I could embrace it and feel it on purpose.
By describing it, I gave myself permission to settle into it.
When I felt it, and experienced it, I was able to process it.
Once I opened myself up to it, it was relieved.
Feeling our emotions is a foundational part of emotional maturity. Once you learn to do it with one emotion, you can practice it with others too.
And when we process our emotions in a healthy and mature way, so stop misdirecting our unattended emotions at others. You know, blaming, irritation, projection, etc.
This is a short blog post, therefore, just an introduction to this skill. It’s one that takes practice. It’s also one that I recommend going through prayerfully, with God at your side, always knowing that he is the ultimate comforter and source of peace in our lives. But, listen, I have been a Christian all my life and I still need practical skills to help me develop in my maturity. If you’re like me, I think you will find this process very helpful.
Try it and let me know how it goes. Send me a message. I’d love to hear from you. Let me know this is helping and what you have learned.