Blog / Therapy Techniques - Feel Your Feelings
Therapy Techniques - Feel Your Feelings18.12.2023 | Sriraksha S
As we learn more and more on mental health & well-being, it becomes important to be aware of certain tools and techniques that can be used in our daily life to take care of oneself. Since mental health includes our emotional & behavioral, social and cognitive well-being, it affects how we think, feel and act. While making healthy choices is something we always hear about a lot, it is helpful to be aware of what steps can be taken that can actually be beneficial for our well-being. While therapy is a professional space and conducted by a trained person, knowing a few basic techniques that we can apply in our lives can surely be helpful. iDare aims to create awareness on this.
FEEL YOUR FEELINGS?
Here is a question for you. How do you feel your feelings? Think hard.
The fact of the matter is most of us do not know how to feel our feelings or even where our feelings exist. More often than not, we get lost in thoughts and we consider that as feeling. If I asked someone where do you feel happy or sad or angry, there is a possibility that the person will be confused. Sometimes people are not sure what they are feeling either. This happens because there is very little awareness on how exactly to feel your feelings.
When I first started therapy, my therapist always asked a follow up question as soon as I said “I’m feeling ____”. She would ask “Where?” For the longest time, I had no clue what she meant or how to even answer that. It ended up with me asking myself “Where are my feelings” and “How exactly do I feel my feelings”.
Get into your body
There are different ways to do this of course but one simple but sure shot way to start out is to get out of our heads and to get in touch with our bodies. Now if I asked you to tell me where in your body are you feeling a particular emotion, how would you answer that?
I had no clue either and for a number of sessions, my therapist told me to focus on my body, to look at what physical sensations I was feeling and where. Now this is the first step and trust me I thought my therapist was crazy. I repeatedly focused on my body sensations in my sessions and I still could not figure out if I was feeling anything anywhere.
After a few sessions, I could suddenly say “I feel weird in my stomach” and she prompted me more, asked to describe the sensation and I tried with whatever words I could use. Then came the next part, she asked me to sit with this feeling. Now this was what I found tricky as sitting with the feeling without getting lost in thoughts, day dreaming or getting uncomfortable with the feeling.
With time, I realized this is exactly like meditation where you are asked to focus on your breathing and to get in touch with your body. This made sense as meditation has always been used as a practice for both physical and emotional well-being.
So we can definitely start going into our body. Initially I did it with my eyes closed as it helped me focus a bit better, asking myself what sensations am I feeling and where. If you feel unable to come up with anything despite trying repeatedly then always get more specific starting with your feet. “Can I feel any sensation in my feet, calves, knees, toes?” “What does it feel like?” “Tight?, Painful?, Relaxed?” Be mindful about using descriptive words instead of saying “I don’t feel good” or “I feel terrible”. Ask yourself on what is the feeling and sensation.
Next comes not trying to escape it and that I’m guilty of too. Identifying the feeling is just half the work. The other half is to sit with it. This can get very uncomfortable at times and we are tempted to go back to our coping mechanisms like distracting myself with a Netflix binge, food, alcohol, smoking, telling ourselves this is stupid so that we do not have to feel the emotion. Do not judge yourself for it as it can be difficult indeed. Be kind and gentle and only do it for as long as you can.
Always remember to be curious about your feelings rather than judgmental and to strive to do as best as you can at any given moment. Trying to be in the present moment with your sensations is what this entire exercise is about. When we identify a feeling in our body, we validate it. We say, “Yes, I am feeling this”. And because emotions are often trying to tell us something, when we notice and name them, they don’t have to keep shouting at us to deliver their message. They often resolve just by being acknowledged.
Please remember, these techniques are in no way a substitute to an actual therapy session. We would like to emphasize that if someone is struggling with their mental health and if it is affecting day to day life, it is imperative to consult with a trained professional. \
If you or somebody you know needs any help to understand therapy techniques in depth or is stressed with issues related to mental health, consider reaching our ‘Support’ and ‘Engage’ verticals for affordable and inclusive help!
Like our content? Please show us some support by sharing and upvoting!
Image credits - Pexels.com