Updated: Mar 25
Our lives are run by emotions way more than we know or will admit. Understanding our emotional life and being willing to accept all of it will lead to a better life after divorce.
We are hardwired as humans to avoid pain and seek those things that feel good, but this will often lead to an emotional life of imbalance where we create more negative emotion because we're trying so hard to avoid it.
Listen in to discover the three things we all do as humans to avoid feeling emotional distress and what we can do instead to have a better life.
If you want to start living a life where you feel in control of your emotions, without feeling scared of all the big negative feelings, then you need to schedule your free consult call with me. Click here to schedule.
What you'll learn from this episode:
What a feeling (emotion) actually is.
What a feeling isn't.
The three things we do to avoid feeling a negative emotion.
Why we need to allow negative emotions to live a full life.
List to the full episode:
Full Episode Transcript:
Welcome back to Becoming You Again. So I wanted to start this week off talking about emotions (or feelings) and talking about your emotional life. I use the words emotions and feelings interchangeably so you’ll hear me use both of them through this podcast and future podcast episodes. But when you hear wine you could know that it could be interchanged with the other one. Okay? But I wanted to start this week off talking about emotions because our lives are run by our emotions way more than most of know or will admit. Our emotions are what fuel every action we do or don’t take in our lives so paying attention to our feelings is really important.
I first want to define what a feeling actually is. A feeling (or an emotion) is a vibration in our body. This vibration is in direct correlation to us thinking a thought or telling ourselves a story in her head and then our brain sends down chemicals into our body where we then feel the vibration and that feeling is what we’re labeling as an emotion. Right? What is happening in our body is what we are labeling as the emotion or the feeling. These are typically one word. They are descriptors like sad, happy, joyful, angry, frustrated.
But here’s what a feeling isn’t. When someone asks you how you feel and instead of saying, “I feel so happy” or “I feel so peaceful” we say things like this, “I just feel like my day started off really terrible and has gotten worse by the minute.” That’s actually not a feeling. It’s something you’re thinking about your day and you’re using the word ‘feel’ in your thought.
So it’s important to know the difference between what an actual feeling is which is the vibration in your body and it’s created by what you’re thinking and what it isn’t because most of us try to define what we’re feeling with a thought and it gets confusing as to what the actual emotion is.
We as humans are hardwired in our DNA to seek things that feel good, right? To seek pleasure and avoid anything that doesn’t feel good. We want to avoid that pain. We want to go after the things that make us feel positive emotion and we try to avoid the things that make us feel negative emotion. It is just kind of human nature. And this in and of itself isn’t that big of a deal until we realize that we are very unwilling to feel any kind of emotional distress or negative emotion and that we are avoiding it at all costs and it starts to negatively effect our emotional life.
From my own experience and from coaching my clients there are three ways that I have noticed that we will use to avoid feeling this emotional distress.
The first one is we seek positive feelings from things outside of us. Like say we’re divorced and we want to feel better and so we look for a new partner because we want that partner to make us happy. Our old partner failed in that department and didn’t make us happy anymore and we want to find someone who will make us happy. Or we change jobs so we can feel fulfilled and important and feel successful. We’ll move to a different place because we want to feel excited and thrilled. The place where we're living right now is just boring and there is nothing to do and so maybe if we move we can find that excitement and that thrill again. We look to outside sources to fill up the void where the negative emotion is hiding because we don’t want to feel the negative emotion. We’re afraid of it.
The next thing we do to avoid the negative emotion it we try to comfort ourselves in some way. We try to ‘fix’ feeling the emotional distress by distracting ourselves with something that’s going to bring us a moment of “comfort”. We will try overeating, or we will drink some alcohol, or maybe we’ll play him video games, or watch some porn, or maybe we’ll exercise to an excessive degree of maybe we’ll just scroll on social media, or binge watch something on Netflix because all of those things feel better in the moment than what we’re actually feeling inside, right? Anything that will take the edge off the negative emotion we are feeling we will seek. We would rather have that dopamine hit than the actual negative emotion that is going on inside of us.
And the last thing we do is we think that we’re not capable of feeling the negative emotion – it’s too heavy, it’s too hard, it hurts too much, it’s exhausting. And so instead we just pretend it’s not there. We go apathetic. We try to push the emotion down and just pretend like we are not feeling anything at all or we resist it. We tell ourselves, “Gosh I just wish that this wasn’t here” or “Why can’t it go away faster?” And we’ll do whatever it takes to avoid actually dealing with or feeling that negative emotion.
I was coaching a woman the other day and she was struggling with this, like we all do. It’s not something that just some people struggle with and others don’t. No. We all struggle with this. It’s hardwired in our DNA. So I just want you to know, first of all if this is you there is nothing wrong with you. You are a normal functioning human being so it is okay. But I was coaching this woman and she was telling me that when she has her kids during the week she feels fine because she’s able to distract herself with helping the kids with their homework, making dinner, working, taking care of the kids in all the ways that we do as moms. But then when her kids go to their dads on the weekends, she is overwhelmed by all of the big emotions that are showing up and what she wanted from me as her coach was to tell her what to do. What can I do to stop feeling these big negative emotions? She didn’t want them there anymore. They were scary and hard and she didn’t like it.
And I had to break the news to her about emotions. Nothing has gone wrong here.
So of course when I was working with her we worked through very specifically what those big emotions were and why she was feeling them and then I taught her my simple 3 step process to allowing the emotions to be there which I am for sure going to teach in a future podcast episode. But for today’s episode this is basically what I told her. Nothing has gone wrong here. The real truth about being a human is we’re made to feel all of the emotions. Not just the happy ones, not just the positive ones, not just the good ones – but all of them. And I know that may be hard to hear. I know that may be something that none of us want to admit, but it is the truth about our life.
The goal in life is to never feel negative emotion. That’s not something we can ever really actually achieve unless we become robots someday. But that’s not how we work as humans. The goal is not to be happy all the time. The goal is to be human and being human means feeling all of the emotions. Choosing being a human over choosing happiness all the time will bring your life more peace and your emotional life will stay more balanced. Instead of the really high highs and the really low lows of the positive and negative emotions, your emotional life will be more like rolling hills of highs and lows. And it will become so much more manageable when you can allow the negative emotions to be there as much as you allow the positive emotions to be there. The negative emotions will become much less scary and you’ll learn to stop hiding from them and instead you just let them be there. It doesn’t become a problem anymore.
Every single one of us is capable of feeling negative emotions. It’s the sadness that makes happiness possible. It’s the despair that makes joy possible. The better we get at allowing negative emotions to be a part of our lives without all the resistance and without all the hiding, the stronger our emotional life will become.
If you like what you heard on today’s podcast and you want to know more about working 1:1 with me, you can go to www.karinnelsoncoaching.com and schedule your free consult to find out more. That’s www dot Karin nelson coaching dot com.