Feelings Are For Feeling

Written by Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC

In this fast-paced culture, we can sometimes feel like there's no room for our feelings anywhere. We're so busy texting, calling, emailing and working, feelings might at times seem more like obstacles than something worth exploring. And denying feelings can lead to all sorts of problems, both psychological and physical. 

Our culture is big on happiness. Look at any magazine cover, and you'll see happy people smiling. We deny depression even while we take record amounts of antidepressants. The thing is, we just don't talk about it. 

Just Cheer Up

"Cheer up."

"Why the long face?"

"It's not that bad, is it?"

"You have so much to be grateful for."

Advice about how we "should" feel can be painful when you're on the receiving end of it. There's a lot of denial out there, and people will go to great lengths to convince you to be happy (or to not be unhappy) in order to forget or deny their own pain and suffering. Any "should" they're dropping on you should really be reserved for them, but it's often those who are in denial the most who want others to deny their own feelings. It makes them feel more comfortable. 

Just Feel It

Rather than just cheer up, why not just feel what you're feeling? The Nike company says to "just do it", but I say "just feel it". 

Feelings are there for a reason, and when you deny them, they can lodge in your body in interesting but often predictable ways. You know how you get a stomach ache every time you get together with a certain friend? Or ahow about when your neck hurts when you're under stress? Or maybe you get headaches when your mother-in-law comes to visit. (Well, let's skip the mother-in-scenario.....)

Anyway, to paraphrase an old saying, "unshed tears will make other organs weep."

Denial of anger, the repression of fear, the pushing away or sublimation of rage---these can all manifest in a variety of physical symptoms. Call them psychogenic or psychosomatic, if you will, but no matter their origins, these symptoms can be distressing and have an impact on your health. 

There is documented research that shows the negative effects of stress on blood sugars, and if you're a diabetic in tune with your body, I'm sure you already know that your sugars are whacky when you're upset, depressed or stressed. 

So, the expressing of emotion in healthy and safe ways is a great key to overall wellness. 

Find The RIght Venue

In terms of getting in touch with those feelings, you may want to try psychotherapy, coaching, art therapy or any other manner of situations or treatments that will allow you to be authentic and real about what you're experiencing on the inside. 

Some people like support groups. Some people prefer one-on-one. Some people would rather talk to a priest or a rabbi. 

Whatever your chosen venue, find a way to express your feelings, and this practice will enhance your physical, psychologicl, emotional and even spiritual health. 

Make your feelings something that you're willing to give attention to. They're there for a reason, so why not give them your time?