Feel what you feel
At Rooted, we have a saying. It goes, “Here, you don’t have to smile if you don’t want to.” To be completely honest, the first time I read it, it didn’t sit well with me. I was transitioning from a yoga teacher training intensive to a new life in Chicago. In a sense, I had spent four weeks on the “be kind-be grateful-be positive” train and was having a hard time truly expressing my feelings. Since then, I have been on a new, but never-ending journey of self-care and self-awareness.
Over the past eleven months, I have been opening up – to new perspectives, new ideas, and to my true self. I have been uncovering layers of myself I did not know existed. Most recently, I have been trying to FEEL my feelings – all of my feelings, even the ugly, scary ones. Most of us have experienced first hand what can happen when we don’t express certain emotions. Bottling up anger can lead to violence or rage. Suppressing hurt feelings can lead to resentment. It makes sense that it is so important for us to express each of our feelings. Why else would we have been given them? Taking the time to really feel our entire spectrum of emotions can help us learn about ourselves and can help us avoid the toxic aftermath of not feeling. The more we know about ourselves – especially about how we feel about certain relationships and situations – the more clearly we can make decisions about daily life.
I have experienced this transition from avoiding my true feelings to acceptance and clarity first hand.
Lately I have been struggling with loneliness. I say I have been struggling because it really feels like I have been fighting my loneliness, avoiding it. A few months back I knew I needed to make a change, and I even knew that that change needed to be a move to be closer to my family and close friends. I told myself I was doing it because of the losses our family has recently experienced and because I wanted to save money before applying to graduate school. It wasn’t until one night, when I was sitting alone in my apartment, that I allowed myself to actually feel my loneliness. I felt it as my heart sunk and my eyes started to tear. I was finally allowing my entire self to feel lonely, and in turn, I finally understood why I felt such a strong need to move home. Home is where my support system and most of my strong relationships are, and realizing this was the benefit of allowing myself to feel.
I was making up excuses for my loneliness because I was too proud. Now, that I have accepted and can really feel it, my loneliness has helped me make important decisions about my future. Now I can know that deciding to move home is the right decision, for me, right now in my life. It has come out of my true feelings, and it is something I decided because I listened to my true self. I may not have been able to see how important this move is if I had not worked through, and not around, my feelings. With help from my experiences at Rooted, I have peeled back another layer of myself. And maybe this layer doesn’t look so pretty, and maybe I don’t want to smile about it. Maybe this layer means I have to make sacrifices. But at least it is real, and it is part of me.
I know that I am not leaving Chicago forever. And I also know that I am not leaving Rooted behind. Rooted’s self-care tools are now always in my toolbox. My journey of self-care and self-discovery is just now beginning. I have many more layers to peel back, more feelings to feel, and more truth to uncover.