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Choosing to care – or learning to pay attention to your feelings.

Hard stuff happens.

Life is full of it – just tune in to the news of recent weeks. We are oftPaying attention to your feelings.en surrounded by horror, tragedy, suffering, grief, loss on a grand scale. And it can be overwhelming and difficult to absorb. But each of us on an individual level in our normal, run-of-the-mill every day life also experiences a whole gamut of feelings in response to smaller day-to-day hurts.

Rejection. Loss. Failure. Sadness. Anger. Disappointment.

Sometimes, the temptation is to avoid difficult emotions like that because they are too painful.

Folk develop different strategies for this. It is possible to develop a hardened exterior, a tough outer crust that seems impenetrable, as a means of avoiding the pain. To choose to not care, to not get too close. Keep your guard up, keep your distance, keep your heart safe.

Or you can become a stuffer. A coper. This has been my default defense mechanism for many years.

I am a getter-on-with-it. Hard stuff happens, but hey I am strong and capable and self sufficient so acknowledging those hurts, fears, anxieties is not what I do, so deal with it and move on – on with the next thing. Dear goodness, why would I pay attention to those inner feelings, let alone allow them to surface so that I could deal with them? Far too painful and means I would have to be vulnerable.

Strike a chord, anyone?

But over time, this has a tremendous cost – those feelings don’t go away, they are simply repressed waiting and biding their time until they erupt at the most inopportune moment.

I am straying into the realm of counselling here.

But I am learning that taking time to pay attention to what I am feeling is important. Because those feelings are are indicators of what is going on inside me, and often point to what I care about. Taking time to pay attention to them allows me to learn more about myself, and what is at the root of my reactions.

And that I most definitely do care. Because paying attention to our feelings, and what they are telling us, enables us to understand ourselves better.

When we learn to ask ourselves:

What am I feeling? What do those feelings point to? How am I wanting to respond to them? What do I need?

….we can also learn to take responsibility for our response to those feelings, and show that we do care. We can seek to see things from the point of view of another, to get inside their shoes. We can reach out to them with more empathy, and make deeper connections in our relationships. Feelings can point to when we need to forgive, and when we need to say sorry. They can be indicators of when we need to stop and recharge. Or when we need to get off the busyness-treadmill and offer some TLC to someone in need.

And when we harden ourselves to feelings, or stuff them inside, we tend to do that with ALL feelings. And thus we can miss out on the joy of connection, happiness, celebration, exuberance, achievement.

Seems like no way to go through life.

Learning instead to pay attention to our feelings allows us to show that we do, most definitely, care.

 

Inspired? Encouraged? Get in touch!

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