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 helpful resources along with 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.
To live brave, whole, and on purpose we must actively increase our emotional intelligence or EQ (including emotional literacy); develop the language to name what we’re experiencing mind-emotion-body and learn that we are “strong enough” to sit with discomfort instead of running or numbing.Krista
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. To name our emotions with precision and to develop higher EQ or emotional intelligence is healthy and acts as a “stress buffer” (source).
People with high emotional intelligence (the ability to recognize, understand and manage our own emotions and recognize, understand and influence the emotions of others) report better moods, less anxiety, lower depression, and less worry during times of tension and stress than those with less ability to identify and manage their emotions.
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.
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
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.
Learn to name and process what you’re experiencing. Take advantage of the Free Feel More Empowered Workshop to understand what’s happening in your nervous system when you feel stressed, panicky, or shut down (for example) and simple ways to shift into a curious and empowered state. Access the workshop here.
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.
In addition to taking the Feel More Empowered Workshop, if you want to learn more about emotional literacy and practicing identifying and naming your emotion, I recommend Marc Brackett’s book Permission to Feel and the Mood Meter.