November 12, 2015

You Gotta Feel it to Heal It: Why We Have to Stop Numbing the Pain.


I’ve spent much of my life resisting my true feelings.

Anger made me feel wrong. Sadness made me feel weak. Needy made me feel “girly.” Love made me feel scared.

I became an expert at hiding when I was feeling any of the above.

Some people numb their feelings with alcohol, drugs, shopping, or sex. I numb with control. Being in control. Exerting control. Maintaining iron-will control over my every emotion.

Don’t think I have anyone fooled. Besides, this only works for so long before the emotions leak out and erupt like a dormant volcano.

One of the most famous quotes of every 12-Step program is:“You gotta feel it to heal it.” As someone who absolutely hates feeling anything that makes me vulnerable, this is the best advice I’ve ever received.

Because I’ve felt no greater pain and sadness than I have the past two years of my life. Yet it’s been the catalyst for my greatest transformation.

Every crazy, unhealthy, “not like us at all” thing we do in life has a catalyst. Something that triggers the event that lands us in the place we never thought we’d ever be.

It could be the death of a loved one, the memory of some childhood trauma, the meeting of another soul who holds a mirror up to us and forces us to see what we don’t want. And we’re here because we can’t face the real pain that lies beneath it. So we look for ways to escape it.

But the only way out is in.

Into the feelings. Into the pain. Into the hurt. Into the loneliness. There is no other way.

Believe me. I’ve tried.

I’ve tried every other way around it. And I’m here to tell you, there is none. You gotta feel it all to heal it, pass through it and get to the other side.

One of the best ways to do this is through meditation. You want to feel? Quiet the mind, sit with yourself and see what comes up. Ask yourself the really hard questions:

1) Am I being present in my life or am I numbing to not feel?

2) What am I hiding?

3) What am I really feeling in my heart?

4) If I didn’t care what others thought of me, what would I be saying that I’m not saying now?

Stalk it. Stalk the feelings. Don’t just go to the first one. Go to the next level.

Don’t just go to the, “I’m scared…” Go to reasons why. Are you scared of being alone? Does it make you feel the way you did when your father died? What are you afraid is going to happen if you are alone?

And can you forgive yourself for being scared of that and just feel it? Just be okay with feeling scared and alone.

I noticed recently that I have been repressing a lot of emotions. I’m ashamed of them because I feel they should be gone by now. Sadness, grief, loneliness, neediness, wanting, longing, shame. The more I hid the feelings, the stronger they came up.

So I gave them a voice. I allowed them their day in the sun. I knew that by releasing them, it didn’t mean that they would linger or stick around longer than I needed them to.

I just felt them and gave them the space to be released, so I could pass through it. I allowed them to do their healing work by owning that they are there. Yes, I’m still sad. I’m still grieving. I feel lonely and in need of love.

But they no longer have power over me. Because I’m feeling them now instead of repressing them, numbing them, or trying to control them.

Every feeling we have has something to teach us about ourselves and is an opportunity to heal on a deeper level. So don’t repress your feelings. Allow yourself to feel everything. Don’t judge it. Show yourself compassion for the imperfect yet perfect journey you are on. It’s leading you somewhere great. To your greatest transformation.

And always remember, “You gotta feel it to heal it, baby…” There ain’t no shortcuts.



Relephant Favorite:

3 Steps to Learning to Experience Life Fully.

Author: Dina Strada

Editor: Travis May

Photo: Flickr/Martinak15


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