Today I invite you, if you like, to look inside yourself and ask yourself: Is it okay for me to feel less than neutral or good? Perhaps your answer is: No, it is not okay for me.

Then it would be interesting to explore how many role models you have had in your life who have accepted every feeling without reservation, without judging or avoiding it. Not many, probably. Maybe no one.

And then of course it would be interesting to ask how often you have observed, since you have been on this world, that people avoid feeling their feelings. Countless times, most likely.

In our families of origin, everyday encounters, in the media, we see since earliest childhood how "one" deals with negative feelings, which feelings are considered desirable and which are considered undesirable.

Anxiety, depression, jealousy, inadequacy or inferiority, loneliness as well as anger or rage are negatively evaluated in our society. The urge to do something to avoid exposure to these feelings is correspondingly strong. One of the most popular avoidance strategies is not to allow oneself to feel difficult feelings in the first place by ignoring them, denying their existence, passing over them quickly, becoming numbed or distracted. Common "aids" are alcohol, drugs, food, media consumption, socialising, working, keeping busy and much more. Also avoidance of feelings by thinking about the circumstances and possible causes of these feelings, possibly even blaming a (supposed) causer. A story around the feelings is invented instead of simply feeling them. I say story because it is a retrospective, subjective interpretation of meaning.  

The basic convictions behind such behaviour patterns are on the one hand the idea that unpleasant feelings are unacceptable in principle. Or they are difficult or impossible to bear. Or, if one feels one's feelings, then one must also "do something with them" or act out of this experience. For example, someone who feels jealousy must make a scene to his partner; someone who feels fear must avoid the situation that causes fear; someone who feels anger must act aggressively; someone who feels depressed must devalue or harm himself.

Does any of what you read here sound familiar to you? Do you identify any of your own beliefs or patterns of behaviour?

Then here is some good news for you: Feeling your feelings liberates!

Undoubtedly, it requires alertness and courage to be in contact with one's own feelings and to consciously choose to let them move unhindered through the physical and emotional-mental system. It's a bit like dealing with a guest you haven't necessarily invited, but you know that the less you bicker, argue or discuss with him, the sooner he will say goodbye again. It is best to take note of him with friendly neutrality.

Also helpful attitudes towards feelings that come to visit you uninvited: Compassion, understanding, unconditional acceptance.

The effectiveness of positive self-verbalizations and self-instructions (terms from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), which are the subject of this paper, is well researched and proven.

The self-verbalization "It's perfectly okay to feel this way" frees an emotional experience from the negative label and thus changes the meaning of the experience and thus the experience itself: A feeling is simply (only) a feeling. One gives oneself the chance to acknowledge something that is already there without the idea of being a victim of this experience or having to act out of these feelings.

Advantages of a basic attitude of "It's perfectly okay to feel this way" are:

Resistance to the experience dissolves, thus less time, attention and energy is wasted.

Permitting oneself to allow the whole spectrum of human feelings makes a person alive and awake, as no resources are used to dull or repress something.

The feeling, experienced as a certain form of energy and sensations wandering through the body, fades and dissolves more quickly.

A basic feeling of personal competence, resilience and strength in dealing with everyday challenges develops.

The mind becomes free to view the situation from a higher perspective.

Balance and neutrality are restored more quickly, a favourable starting point for the next steps. 

Part of the attention otherwise tied up by defence strategies can be used for self-observation and valuable tools such as conscious breathing. In this way feelings can be consciously felt to an end and soon say goodbye.

The decision itself to view and experience feelings in a neutral way already brings relief, as it includes the conviction that the experience is manageable in principle.

"It is perfectly okay to feel this way" is the first step and starting point for further and deeper work with difficult feelings and the liberation from suffering. An important step towards greater freedom and mental health. Currently I am observing a thematic area of focus in my work with clients, which relates to feelings such as jealousy, fear of abandonment and lack of self-worth. And how unfavourable strategies in dealing with them create more problems than solutions.

If you feel a resonance to this, I invite you to explore with me in a consultation how you can experience more inner ease, independence and peace in this regard. A more positive self-image, a new view of your own relationships and more favourable behaviour patterns can be derived from this.

And of course you are also welcome to talk to me about any other topic.