Duality of Your Emotions

Often in working with people, I hear them express their emotions in a way that suggest there isn’t enough space for all of the ways they feel.

This often elicits confusion around how they SHOULD feel, and an unknowing around whether they’re allowed to move forward embodying their new found freedom from old ways of being that weren’t serving them anymore. 

Aaron Burden of  Unsplash

Aaron Burden of Unsplash

For example, they might share that they created a new boundary with someone. They might say something like

“I feel so much freedom and joy from doing so, but I feel so sad and guilty that they were hurt by my actions.”

My first response is to always address the ‘but’ of the situation. Using the word ‘but’ implies that if you feel one way, you’re not allowed to feel the other. So in the above example, you’re not allowed to feel your joy in creating a healthy boundary because of the sadness that exists in you from someone else being hurt by your line drawn. 

I like to offer something to the client in this instance to allow space to feel whatever they need to feel. Rather than using ‘but’, I ask them if there is space for feeling both. I ask them how it feels to reframe their sentence by replacing ‘but’ with ‘and’.

So instead of “I feel joy about my new thing but I feel sad that it had this affect”.

They say “I feel joy about my new thing AND I feel sad that it had this affect”.

Can you feel the difference?
Can you feel the space created for both scenarios and feelings to coexist?

Giving yourself that space grants you the permission to not only feel both emotions but to open to having a deeper understanding of your self.

Emotions are often classified as bad/negative and good/positive. In truth, emotions aren’t innately good or bad. They’re neutral tools that show up in the way that they do based on your conditioning. When you identify an emotion and allow yourself to feel it, explore with curiosity, and give it space to just be without trying to change it or get rid of it, it can uncover an incredible breadth of information.

Emotions aren’t there to make you feel bad or convince you that you did something wrong. When they show up, the exploration in to what is driving them, what is underneath them, can give you incredible insight in to all of the ways that you show up, the belief systems that live underneath them, and whether they’re working for you anymore or not. 

As you shift from your old ways of being into new ones, it’s normal to experience a wide range of emotions. You are complex and so are your connections, relationships, and stories. The growth process is as well. 

The next time you experience a myriad of emotions around one scenario, notice the language you use around it. Ask yourself: “Is there space for all of my feelings to exist, at least for now, as I process and integrate them in to my ever changing story? What information is living within and underneath what I’m feeling?”