Feeling it — or not

The worst that can happen is a feeling.

Emotions are just vibrations in our body. They originate in our brains when we have a thought. Regardless of how simple that sounds, we can experience some emotions as terribly unpleasant. We have four options when unpleasant emotions come up:

  • Resist
  • React
  • Avoid
  • Allow

Resistance feels tight, like we’re pushing against the feeling, pretending it isn’t there.

Reaction is unbridled self-expression, like a toddler throwing a tantrum, slamming stores, yelling, and generally behaving outside of integrity, as if the emotion excused the behavior.

Avoidance is distracting ourselves with food, video games, pornography, exercise, or any other behavior we’re choosing in an effort to escape the emotion. The behaviors aren’t inherently avoidant; but they’re things that we choose to distract us when we want to avoid feeling our emotions.

Allowance is opening up to the feeling, turning attention to the body and noticing what’s happening there, without trying to make it stop. Sometimes it seems like the worst that can happen is a feeling, and it’s true. It can be extremely unpleasant. Feeling it, though, is a skill we can practice. And once we realize that unpleasant emotion is completely within our ability to handle, then it’s no big deal.

The worst that can happen is a feeling, and we know how to do that.

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