Inside: We need PERMISSION TO FEEL and the ability to name emotion in order to move through it and choose a healthy response. This post contains an affiliate link.
The vulnerable work of moving toward wholeness or integration, of examining our identity and embracing the fullness of who we are and how we came to this point of our life, of wrestling with shadow and learning to tell the truth, can only be done as we also deepen our skills of emotional literacy and self-compassion.
We need permission to feel (anger, rage, joy, hope, grief, shame, all of it), then the ability to name emotion in order to move through it. Only by moving through it (vs suppressing, numbing, denying, blaming) are we able to process, grow, and more fully become our true and healthiest selves.
Emotion regulation is not about not feeling. Neither is it exerting tight control over what we feel. And it’s not about banishing negative emotions and feeling only positive ones. Rather, emotion regulation starts with giving ourselves and others the permission to own our feelings—all of them.Marc Brackett – Permission to Feel
As an Enneagram 1, anger, rage, and resentment are emotions I’ve needed to work hard to see at play in myself, to own, and even to allow. I have needed to stop suppressing and denying so that I could access healing and walk in greater freedom in my life.
And as a mom of a child who struggled with severe depression and suicidality and walked with him through a dismaying and traumatizing experience with our medical system and law enforcement, it was essential for me to own my rage at injustice and needless suffering in the world and accept that I am not “bad” for feeling anger – I am human.
I accept, too, that I’ll be doing this work as long as I live but I can harness this into advocacy and using my resources to help build a kinder, safer, world for all people.
No emotion is “bad” – they are simply human. To feel is good – to allow for safe and healthy expression of emotion is good.
I am a far healthier and happier human understanding now that I have permission to feel it all. When we do this work to deepen self-awareness and build more skill around emotional literacy, to learn to use our voice in healthy ways and practice choosing our response (vs living on autopilot), life changes for us. We’re less likely to be triggered and reactive because we are awake to our own patterns, emotional wounding, unhelpful cognitions, and so on.
TO LIVE WHOLE AND ON PURPOSE WE MUST FEEL AND PROCESS EMOTION
We can only change what we first acknowledge. We can only walk in freedom if we’re willing to own the truth of who and how and why we are.
Permission to feel is not, of course, only about naming and owning harder emotions. It can be equally hard work to allow ourselves to name, own, and embrace positive emotions. There can be tremendous judgment in this too and it can feel triggering. (After my son died I lived 17 months with PTSD and severe panic disorder. Positive emotions felt just as vulnerable and triggering to me as grief, pain, and despair.)
What I recognize for myself is that I desire high intensity positive emotion like joy, happiness, excitement, and the buzz of feeling fully alive and engaged with life, in addition to lower intensity positive emotion like contentment, calm, or serenity. The latter are more physically comfortable for me, though, which I suspect is true for most Highly Sensitive People.
While all emotion is fleeting, for me to live fully present, awake, and willing, I have needed/wanted to learn to open up and receive, taste, and savor joy and happiness even in the midst of grief, pain, and uncertainty.
I simply give myself permission to feel and live it all.
Permission to Feel
I am angry.
I give myself permission to feel my rage, the injustice and horror
we have walked through.
I am allowed to open my mouth
just like I open my heart to keep it
I open my mouth and I give release
to my anger.
It is not shameful as we are told
but brave and necessary
-to feel, deeply,
heart and arms wide-open:
I feel anger, rage, grief, longing, despair
and these break down and give themselves
so that new life can grow.
Joy, hope, and delight grow in
this rocky soil.
But first, anger must be heard.
Anger must be acknowledged or it
transforms into something far more insidious and damaging.
It transforms into pretense and hiding, blaming and shaming
and the fruit of this is destruction.
A tearing down.
So I make room for my anger,
I invite it to walk with me
as I traverse this lonely
and painful road
of coming home.
Now What? I’ve gathered 13 resources to help you care for yourself like you matter. And if you haven’t yet, I invite you to sign up for The HOPE Map, truth-telling, practical ideas to help you show up fully to life, and a mostly weekly invitation to pause + consider.
(If you’re not familiar with The Enneagram, it’s one of my favourite tools for deepening self-awareness and self-compassion and learning to walk in greater freedom. There are many great places to learn about this typology but The Wisdom of the Enneagram is one of my favourite resources.)