We live in an era where lyrics in contemporary music state how feelings are comparable to an illness that you can catch. To be afraid to “catch feels” informs the listener that to do so would be detrimental to one’s mental health—or that is how I have interpreted it.
So how did this all occur, and how does it affect our perception of emotions regarding the self?
The rise in technology and social media are largely to blame, as they have reinforced this illusory notion that positive feelings, acceptance, and love is obtained from outside of the self. In order to obtain that hit of dopamine, we must present ourselves in a specific way that is deemed attractive, successful, and likable. Social media platforms such as Instagram is notorious for this validation-seeking high that we seek. Yet the more we do this, the more unhappy we become.
Why? Because we are not being truly authentic with ourselves. We essentially lie to our viewers via filters, photo edits, and ideal lighting to capture our alleged finest yet totally constructed moment in pictorial form. We have lost that genuine connection that we have to ourselves, and have instead placed it in the proverbial palm of our audience. Their approval determines how we feel. The more we lie to ourselves via distraction, the further away we are from the self.
This is why we find it uncomfortable to pause and sit with our feelings. Our coping mechanism regarding our feelings has been to distract, whether it’s via social media, social gatherings, work, Netflix, etc. We can’t seem to fathom the thought of spending too much time alone. It feels scary. When we do, we may feel overwhelmed with uncomfortable thoughts and feelings, which then leads to distraction, and the cycle repeats.
However, by merely observing your thoughts and feelings, notice what comes up. Just sit for a moment and pause. Don’t run away via distraction. Sit with the uncomfortableness. Truly listen to what your feelings are telling you. It is not there to judge, it just is.
This is how we connect with ourselves. It is our self’s way of saying, “Hi, thank you for noticing me and acknowledging my existence.” And once acknowledged and accepted, these feelings will pass. Because they can’t hurt you, even though it feels like it. What hurts you is your guardedness around feeling your feelings and accepting them.
Perhaps do a little investigating as to why these thoughts and feelings transpired. What were the triggers? The deeper you go into knowing the self, the more connected you will feel. The more connected you feel towards yourself, the more connected you will feel in your environment. So perhaps sitting with the uncomfortableness of your feelings ain’t so bad after all.