How our minds prolong our exposure to painful feelings

By Angela Legh

May 19, 2022


In my children’s books, the Bella Santini Chronicles, I teach an easy exercise for facing any feeling, whether we consider it painful or pleasant. I teach this because I understand that we are freed from prolonged pain when we allow our feelings to flow. This only happens when we do not engage our minds in the story of what happened.

The Venn diagram at the top of this post reveals the overlap between the story we hold about our circumstances and the feelings we experience. Our thoughts are electrical; our feelings are magnetic. When we focus on the story of our events, we layer our story over our feelings, creating an electromagnetic charge that prolongs our exposure to the feelings. When our minds are involved, thinking thoughts like “I don’t want to feel this way,” or “It isn’t fair,” we are engaged in the story, and our feelings are prolonged.

Thoughts and feelings are energetic processes in our bodies. The biochemistry of a feeling has been timed for anywhere from 90 to 120 seconds. Yet we experience some of our most painful feelings for longer than that because our thoughts are focused on our circumstances. When we experience our feelings as a neutral witness, the energy flow is unhindered, and the feeling dissipates.

To experience your feelings without the story, notice the feeling in your space – how does it feel? Sharp? Dull? Aching? Heavy? Just notice it and do not judge it. Next, acknowledge your feelings. You can say, “I am feeling (name the feeling). Last, allow yourself to feel the feeling. This is about permitting yourself to feel the way you do. Notice that the feeling flows and soon dissipates.

Be aware that this is a journey, not a destination. You may find yourself caught up in the story, but you can do this exercise to allow the feeling once you notice.

The story that we apply to our feelings is a matter of our perceptions and filters through which we view life. We inherited some of these perceptions and filters from our parents, teachers, religious leaders, friends, co-workers, and bosses. The pain we associate with our emotions results from the story we attach to them based on our perceptions. Our tendency to either resist or become entangled in our feelings because of the story we attach is the source of much pain in this world.

You may notice that your feelings arise every time you think of the story of your circumstances. For now, you have this exercise to allow your feelings. My next post will speak about the story; our emotional triggers based on perceptions handed to us by others; and how we can deactivate them.

For today, when faced with a painful feeling, feel, acknowledge and allow your feelings.

#emotionalresilience #emotionaltoolbox #emotionalfreedom

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