Why should I feel uncomfortable?

Stop buffering.

This week we’re talking about buffering. What is buffering? 

We buffer to avoid feeling emotional pain or uncomfortable emotions.

When we buffer, we use external things to change how we feel internally. This means engaging in an action to put a buffer between us and a feeling we don’t want to feel. The action could be something like overeating, overdrinking, overspending, over-Instagraming, over-Netflixing, overworking, over-cleaning, or over-exercising. It could be anything if we’re using that thing/action to prevent ourselves from feeling an emotion.

These things become false pleasures that have a net-negative outcome: When we overeat, we gain weight. When we overdrink, we end up with hangovers and half of the next day is ruined. When we overspend, we go into debt or don’t meet our savings goals.

If buffering is what we do to avoid pain/discomfort, it makes sense that when we stop buffering, we’ll feel pain/discomfort. But most of us don’t understand this, which makes it almost impossible to stop buffering.

We have to be willing to feel uncomfortable in order to move past our buffers.

An analogy for this is like stepping into a house and turning on the lights and the house is a mess. The obvious and easiest answer is to turn the lights back off (to buffer) so the mess will “go away.” But the mess doesn’t go away–you just can’t see it now because the lights are off.

It’s similar with emotions. Avoiding an emotion doesn’t make the emotion go away—it just helps us not to see or feel it. We pretend it isn’t there, but it is there, and it’s there for a reason.

In order to figure out the reason, we need to stop buffering and turn the lights on. Then we need to remember that yes, the mess seems overwhelming, but we can handle it, we can clean it up. Turning the lights off prevents us from cleaning because we can’t see. Going unconscious by buffering has the same effect.

When we stop buffering, we’ll likely experience temporary pain. And the pain isn’t caused by the lack of buffering. What we need to do is stop buffering ourselves long enough to find the cause of the pain. 

When we give up our buffers, we’ll still get upset, but we’ll deal with it differently. We won’t head for the ice cream, which will just make us feel sick or regretful. We’ll deal with it by becoming aware and examining why we’re upset. Soon, we won’t even want ice cream or chips because the pleasure we get from food—or whatever buffering actions we’re doing—actually diminishes, and the pleasure we get from taking care of ourselves and fueling ourselves increases.

When we trade the false pleasures in our life for real well-being, we gain confidence, and that confidence creates more confidence, which creates even more confidence.

Instead of using external things to change how we feel, we can use our minds to change how we feel. Or we can even choose to feel and process the emotion in the moment.

Your turn: What feelings have you been avoiding? What are the false pleasures you’ve been engaging in? In what way would your life be better if you didn’t have these false pleasures? Are you ready to stop buffering and willing to feel some discomfort instead, to move towards real well-being?

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When it’s time for self-care

Sometimes our brain gets in the way.

Why is it so hard sometimes to make changes in our lives that have long-term benefits?

It can be hard because of how our brains have evolved. The prefrontal cortex is the part of our brain that makes us human. It can plan and think about what it’s thinking about. Our primitive, lower brain is the same brain that animals have. It wants to be efficient, avoid pain, and seek pleasure–this is the Motivational Triad

The Motivational Triad can get in the way of us making the changes we want. Why?

Change is new and different. We’re not used to doing new things. So the primitive brain doesn’t get to be efficient when we’re implementing changes. It wants to go back to doing what it knows how to do and what it’s already good at doing. The easy stuff that we’ve been doing and that might not necessarily get us the results we want in our lives.

When we’re making changes in our lives, we’re usually also experiencing discomfort. Whether it’s because we’re waking up earlier, eating less sugar, drinking less alcohol, feeling deprived, moving our bodies more, or spending less money. 

We’ve been used to the instant gratification, which is what the brain likes–the seeking of pleasure and the avoidance of pain. Doing these new things doesn’t give us instant gratification. But it will give us long-term benefits.

How do we push past the discomfort? It’s not by using willpower. It goes back to processing and allowing feelings. And to using our prefrontal cortex.

We use our prefrontal cortex to make plans to implement long-term change. But our primitive brain likes to try to override these plans because it wants to be efficient, avoid pain, and seek pleasure.

So we make a plan first—and know that the primitive brain will try to impose.

If we want to stop overeating, we decide 24 hours ahead of time what we’re going to eat and eat only that.

If we want to stop overdrinking, we decide 24 hours ahead of time how many drinks we’re going to have and have only that.

If we want to stop overspending, we decide 24 hours ahead of time how much we’ll spend and spend only that.

The primitive brain will create urges. So when we have an urge to overeat, we have to allow that urge to be there and feel it. Usually the urge will pass if we’re not fighting against it.

When we have an urge to buy something new, we allow the urge to be there and feel it. And let it pass and stick to our spending plan.

When we have an urge to do anything that deviates from our plan, we allow that urge and let it pass without fighting it or thinking we need to answer that urge.

It might seem impossible at first. But once you start practicing allowing urges, it can become easier.Your turn: Think about the last time you did something that seemed impossible for you to do. But then you decided to do it and you did it. When you actually did it, what did you think of it afterwards?

The fact that you did it probably felt gratifying and instilled the confidence that you could do it again if you wanted to. What would happen if you made a plan 24 hours in advance and allowed an urge to be there without answering it? How would doing that bring you closer to the results you want in your life?

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Work with me: Want to see how self-care is transformative and can help create a more meaningful life in which you start committing to yourself and show up the way you want? I can show you how. I offer first-time seekers a complimentary 45-minute exploratory session. Sign up here.

What’s on your mind? It can be powerful to learn from each other and our common struggles when it comes to our practice of self-care–or just being a human being. If you have something you’re struggling with and would like some perspective, share it here. Your issue may be chosen and addressed in the next post–it’ll be totally anonymous.

How to feel your feelings

Stop resisting.

All of us experience emotional pain at certain points in our lives. We often turn to food, alcohol, shopping, work, or something else to ignore the pain we feel. These temporary distractions only prevent the process that needs to happen to let the painful feelings go.

What happens when feelings hurt:

• Something occurs to trigger your emotional pain.

• You can barely make sense of it and it overwhelms you.

• Emotional pain enters your body—the vibrations in your body caused by the thoughts you’re having are excruciating.

When this happens, you can make a choice to: avoid it, resist it, react to it, or process it. 

Avoiding

When you choose to avoid your pain and pretend it isn’t there, you are basically lying to yourself. This doesn’t work long term. The truth is that avoidance causes pain to fester. The more you avoid it, the more you have to avoid it. You might eat, for example, instead of feel. Then you might get upset because you ate when you weren’t hungry. Then you might obsess about your body or your exercise routine. All of these tactics keep you from addressing the cause of the pain and instead, multiply undesirable symptoms such as weight gain.

Resisting and Reacting

When you resist the emotion, you tell yourself that you shouldn’t be feeling this way and then you feel bad in addition to the painful emotion you’re already feeling. When you resist, it’s like trying to hold a large beach ball under the water. The beach ball always wants to pop back up and gets stronger the more you try to push it down. 

When you deal with pain this way, you act it out or fight against it. You might yell at the person you believe caused your pain. You might talk behind their back, you might give them the silent treatment, or maybe take even more drastic measures against them. This may seem to help with the pain temporarily because it alleviates the vibration in the moment, but these actions almost always backfire.

When we react from negative emotion, we almost always get a negative result. Our actions are usually uncontrolled and unthoughtful. Fighting against the emotion becomes a losing battle–anxiety speeds up the vibration of the already painful emotion, making it even more intense.

Processing and Allowing

When you choose to process pain, you are choosing to feel it. We are so reluctant to feel pain on purpose. We tell ourselves that feeling pain is a bad thing because it feels bad, but this isn’t actually true. When we allow ourselves to feel our pain all the way through, we see that it’s manageable and it can do no long term harm (unlike avoiding and fighting, which can have many long term consequences).

Allow the feeling to be in your body even if you can’t make sense of it in your mind yet. Observe. Say in your mind “I am processing pain” over and over as you feel the pain. You don’t need to fix it or make it go away.

Notice any desire to react, resist, and avoid. You can say the desire out loud or in your mind, or write it down. You don’t have to act on it—just acknowledge it. You can tell yourself, “That won’t help” or “That’s not worth it” every time you notice the desire. 

Remind yourself, “This is pain…This is part of being human.” Allow the painful vibration to be there as you do laundry, take a shower, drive your car, or talk on the phone. Notice its heaviness, its energy, its ability to take your breath away. Just notice.

As you do this, you’ll begin to see that your thoughts about the situation appear. It may take a few minutes, a few hours, a few days, or a few weeks. Let it take as long as it takes—there’s no need to force it. Just keep noticing what you notice.

Your turn: What happens to the feeling if you just allow it to be there and feel it all the way through? Where do you feel it in your body? Does it move around or stay still? Is it hot, cold, warm? What color is it? What happens if you’re allowed to feel this way without reacting to, resisting, or avoiding the emotion?

What’s on your mind? Is there something on your mind that you’d like to have addressed in these weekly posts? It can be powerful to learn from each other and our common struggles when it comes to our practice of self-care–or just being a human being. If you have something you’re struggling with and would like some perspective, let me know. Your issue may be chosen and addressed in the next post–it’ll be totally anonymous.

Subscribe if you want to receive this content directly in your inbox.

Work with me: Want to see how self-care is transformative and can help create a more meaningful life in which you start committing to yourself and show up the way you want? I can show you how. I offer first-time seekers a complimentary 45-minute exploratory session. Sign up here.

When you’re disappointed

Don’t give up.

When we’re focused on moving towards our goals, we can feel deeply disappointed when something doesn’t turn out the way we thought it would or wanted it to. 

We feel disappointed when we don’t get the job we really want.

We feel disappointed when we don’t see the weight on the scale go down fast enough. 

We feel disappointed when the offer we put on the house we wanted gets outbid.

We feel disappointed when a project proposal we put hours into gets rejected.

We feel disappointed when someone doesn’t show up for us the way we hoped they would.

We feel disappointed when a relationship we’re feeling good about doesn’t move forward.

It’s easy to want to give up and think we’ll never have what we want when outcomes don’t happen the way we want and we feel disappointed by them.

But we don’t feel disappointed because of the outcome. We feel disappointed because of what we’re thinking about the outcome and what we make it mean about ourselves or about our lives.

Usually the thoughts have something to do with us not being good enough or that we’re doing something wrong or that we’ll never get it right.

But what if what we need is a nudge in a direction that we haven’t yet considered? What if the outcome we received means that there is something even better and more aligned with us waiting out there? 

What if the outcome we get helps us see more clearly something we need to learn or do differently for ourselves? What if it’s a way for us to give ourselves more grace, compassion, and to become even more of who we’re meant to be?

If the Universe (or God or whatever Higher Power you believe in) has our back no matter what, then this outcome is happening FOR us. 

It can be challenging to see that in the moments of deep disappointment, but once we’re able to be with, acknowledge, and process the disappointment and have it move through and out of us, we can have more clarity in thinking about the outcome we received. What are we learning from this experience? 

The Universe gives us what we need to grow and evolve–which is not always what we think we want. And, my friends, this is a good thing. Are you open to seeing it that way?

Your turn: Are you open to allowing yourself to feel and process disappointment when an outcome doesn’t turn out the way you wanted? If you can dive deeper, what else are you making the outcome mean? When you’ve processed the emotions, remember to ask, “How is this happening FOR me?” And are you willing to keep going?

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Work with me: Want to see how self-care is transformative and can help create a more meaningful life in which you start committing to yourself and show up the way you want? I can show you how. I offer first-time seekers a complimentary 45-minute exploratory session. Sign up here.

You’re thinking your feelings

Feel instead.

The title of this post may seem a bit confusing. “What do you mean, I’m thinking my feelings?”

Many people use the phrase, “I feel like. . .” and they get this mixed up with how they’re feeling. When people say, “I feel like. . .” it’s actually a thought, not a feeling. 

When asked “How do you feel about it?” or when people are wanting to express their feelings but they’re actually expressing their thoughts, they may say:

“I feel like it’s unfair to them” – The thought is “It’s unfair to them” and the feeling might be “indignant” or “upset” or “frustrated” when someone thinks something is unfair.

“I feel like he disrespected me” – The thought is “He disrespected me” and the feeling might be “hurt” or “angry.” Some people might say the feeling is “disrespected” but go further than that. Is “disrespected” a feeling? What do you feel when you feel “disrespected”? It might be more like “angry” or “vengeful” or “hurt.”

“I feel like it’s been so long since I’ve seen you” – The thought is “It’s been so long since I’ve seen you” and the feeling might be “sad” or “hurt” when someone has been absent for a while, or “relieved” to see someone again after a long absence.

“I feel like it’s not working out” – The thought is “It’s not working out” and the feeling might be “disappointed” or “defeated” or “hopeless.”

“I feel like I’m doing a good job” – The thought is “I’m doing a good job” and the feeling might be “satisfied” or “competent” or “celebratory.”

Feelings and emotions are vibrations in our body. We can describe them in single words–as in the examples above–though we can feel different emotions at the same time. Feelings and emotions come from the thoughts we think.

And what we’re feeling will drive our actions or inactions. 

And our actions or inactions are what create the results we get in our lives. 

Therefore, we can be more engaged with our lives when we know what we’re thinking and feeling. 

It’s important to understand how we’re feeling because we experience life through our feelings. 

And what we feel comes from what we think about our life. What do you want to purposely think about your life so you can live a fulfilled and meaningful life? 

Your turn: How can you become more aware of your feelings? What is it like to actually feel the feelings in your body?  

If you’re open to it, try this self-inquiry: “When I’m feeling _____ (choose an emotion), where do I feel this emotion in my body? Does it stay still or does it move around? What color is it? Is it heavy, light, diffuse, solid? Is it hot, cold, warm? Can I be with this emotion and allow it instead of resisting, reacting to, or avoiding it? What happens when I allow it to be there and really feel it?”

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Work with me: Want to create a more meaningful life in which you get to show up the way you want and stop quitting on yourself? I can show you how. I offer first-time seekers a complimentary 60-minute exploratory session. Sign up here.

Sometimes our feelings hurt…a lot

And what if that’s OK?

All of us experience emotional pain at regular intervals in our lives. We often turn to food, alcohol, shopping, work, or something else to ignore the pain we feel. These actions are called buffering (more on that soon). These temporary distractions only prevent the process that needs to happen to let the painful feelings go.

What happens when feelings hurt:
• Something happens to trigger your emotional pain.
• You can barely make sense of it and it overwhelms you.
• Emotional pain racks your body—the vibrations in your body caused by the thoughts you’re having are excruciating.

You can make a choice to: avoid it, resist it, react to it, or process it.

Avoiding
When you choose to avoid your pain and pretend it isn’t there, you are basically lying to yourself. This doesn’t work long term. The truth is that avoidance causes pain to fester. The more you avoid it, the more you have to avoid it. You might eat, for example, instead of feel. Then you might get upset because you ate when you weren’t hungry. Then you might obsess about your body or your exercise routine. All of these tactics keep you from addressing the cause of the pain and instead, multiply undesirable symptoms such as weight gain.

Resisting and Reacting
When you resist the emotion, you tell yourself that you shouldn’t be feeling this way and then you feel bad in addition to the painful emotion you’re already feeling. When you resist, it’s like trying to hold a large beach ball under the water. The beach ball always wants to pop back up and gets stronger the more you try to push it down.

When you deal with pain this way, you act it out or fight against it. You might yell at the person you believe caused your pain. You might talk behind their back, you might give them the silent treatment, or maybe take even more drastic measures against them. This may seem to help with the pain temporarily because it alleviates the vibration in the moment, but these actions almost always backfire.

When we react from negative emotion, we almost always get a negative result. Our actions are usually uncontrolled and unthoughtful. Fighting against the emotion becomes a losing battle–anxiety speeds up the vibration of the already painful emotion, making it even more intense.

Processing
When you choose to process pain, you are choosing to feel it. We are so reluctant to feel pain on purpose. We tell ourselves that feeling pain is a bad thing because it feels bad, but this isn’t the truth. When we allow ourselves to feel our pain all the way through, we see that it’s manageable and it can do no long term harm (unlike avoiding and fighting, which can have many long term consequences).

Allow the feeling to be in your body even if you can’t make sense of it in your mind yet. Watch and notice. Say in your mind “I am processing pain” over and over as you feel the pain. You don’t need to fix it or make it go away.

Notice any desire to react, resist, and avoid. You can say the desire out loud or in your mind, or write it down. You don’t have to act on it—just acknowledge it. You can tell yourself, “That won’t help” or “That’s not worth it” every time you notice the desire. Remind yourself, “This is pain…This is part of being human.” Allow the painful vibration to be there as you do laundry, take a shower, drive your car, or talk on the phone. Notice its heaviness, its energy, its ability to take your breath away. Just notice.

As you do this, you’ll begin to see that your thoughts about the situation appear. It may take some time–a few minutes, a few hours, a few days, or a few weeks. Let it take as long as it takes—there’s no need to force it. Just keep noticing what you notice.

Your turn: What happens to the feeling if you just allow it to be there and feel it all the way through? What happens if you’re allowed to feel this way without reacting, resisting, or avoiding the emotion?

Next week we’ll talk about how our thoughts about our circumstances/situations create our feelings. It’s easy to think our circumstances (other people, our job, our neighborhood, traffic, etc.) create our feelings. It’s all our thoughts. And that’s where our power lies.

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