14. How does ‘it’ make you feel?
One of the most powerful questions I came across on a personal ‘search for meaning’ journey I took following a major health scare (actual death experience) was this: How does it make you feel?
I began thinking about and asking this question a lot!
Things that I had done on auto-pilot for years (often decades) were questioned…
…Because I gave myself permission to evaluate them.
If someone said something to me that did not ‘feel’ right, I responded differently than I would have in the past.
I stopped just ‘sucking it up’ and taking what came my way.
When I found myself in a situation that felt ‘off’ I really looked at what was happening that was causing the reaction within me.
Paying attention to how things make you feel is very empowering.
Acknowledging your feelings is critical to discovering you.
When something makes me feel good/light/happy/joy (any number of positive emotions), I want to do more of it.
When ‘it’ makes me feel bad/heavy/miserable/upset (any number of negative emotions), I want to do less of it.
The same is true about people…
Spend more time around people who make you feel good.
Let go of and if necessary, run away from, those who make you feel bad.
Choose NOT TO PARTICIPATE in situations that do not feel ‘right’ to you…for they are NOT right for you.
Here is an example.
Just a small, but current one.
Social media is FILLED with political messages right now.
Normally, I scroll right by and ignore all of them.
Today, however, I let myself get sucked in and even began sharing some of them.
This made me feel terrible. Upset. Negative. Anxious…
I tuned into how I was feeling, STOPPED participating, and decided to write this post instead.
Because writing makes me feel good.
It doesn’t’ even matter if I am proficient at it or not…I just do it because I enjoy the way it makes me feel.
Sometimes we spend far too long participating in things that make us feel bad.
We know they are not right for us, but we just keep doing them/it.
We can spend a bunch of time (and money in therapy) to determine WHY, or we can just STOP ourselves from doing it, as soon as we become aware of what is bugging us.
These days, I just stop it.
Perhaps I should try therapy (at least my ex-husband always thought I should), but I find it better to just tune-in to how I feel and make a different choice.
Why doesn’t always matter.
Making a new decision (taking action) is the quickest way to make a change that feels better to me.
Another thing to consider is, how intense is my feeling about something/it?
The stronger my reaction, the more I need to pay attention.
If someone says something to me that hurts my feelings a little, it is probably, no big deal.
I can just choose to blow it off.
If a person assaults me with a barrage of criticism/insults/personal attacks, and I feel terrible, I may decide to react and respond differently.
The stronger my emotional response, in either a positive or negative way, the more I need to pay attention!
How you feel and how you think you SHOULD feel are not the same thing.
What others think you ought to feel (about anything) is also totally irrelevant.
Only how YOU ACTUALLY FEEL matters…ever.
Here is another little example of a lesson learned from that same little health scare.
I (NOW) choose to exercise every day.
Nothing extreme, usually walking. Running has proven an unwise choice for me.
I will admit, I was never an ‘exerciser’ or even a moderately active person.
I believed I hated exercise and was too busy to even think about it.
I knew, intellectually, that I had to find a way to make major life-style changes (one being my view on exercise and activity) if I was
to live a healthy/long life (following my health event).
Emotionally, not so much.
I am a creature of habit, like most of us human beings are…
I began searching for some activities that I did not hate.
Things that made me FEEL better.
As I learned more about what worked for me and incorporated them into my life, I felt better and better.
Pretty soon, exercising every day made me feel GOOD.
I looked for reasons to like it…and I found them.
I focused on the benefits to me…and I discovered many.
I listened to ME (my little inner voice) and made choices based on that.
I ignored the naysayers (family and friends thoughts/opinions on what I should/could/ought to do).
Because of this, asking how does it make me feel, I am an active person who loves exercising every day.
I discovered what works for me.
It might not be right for anyone else in the world.
But what works for me is all that matters (to me).
You can use this strategy to create new habits and break ‘bad’ ones.
DISCOVERING YOU Activity:
Commit to asking yourself at least 7 times today…How does THIS make me feel?
Do not worry. Life will give you plenty of opportunities to practice this today…and every day for the rest of your life.
Pause and really pay attention to how you are feeling right now.
Is it a good or bad feeling?
Is it a light or heavy feeling?
What are you going to do about it?
Remember, nothing is a choice too. Just because you observe something, does not mean you have to do anything at all, about it.
Perhaps you just take note of it for future reference.
Discovering YOU is the most important thing you can do right now.
Be Loving. Love Being. Be YOU!
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