In this wonderful world of feeling feelings, it’s easy to take things to the extreme.
I remember when I first stumbled across the nervous system approach to healing.
3 weeks in, I flew from Thailand to Australia on Singapore Air and on the way, something sparked up in my stomach 😬
Fear… doubt… anxiety…
Call it whatever you want.
(I prefer “activation” since all the emotional words are loaded with narrative and bias.)
Point is, I was feeling some funny feelings in my stomach.
So I sat there on that plane and felt it.
Hey, I’d heard that “you gotta feel it to heal it” 💪
“Feelings just wanna be felt maaaan”.
So I felt…
…and felt some more.
I could have watched a movie on the tiny screen in front of me.
I could have listened to some beautiful music (like this song I love to dance Kizomba to).
I could have read a book.
Hell, I could have flirted with the sparkly brown-haired Stewardess with the 5-star smile. She was a babe.
I didn’t do any of those things.
Because I was DETERMINED to feel my feelings until they were all felt.
It didn’t work.
The feeling didn’t dissolve.
It didn’t get “healed”.
It didn’t get what it needed.
This is why I talk about resourcing and titration so much in Rageheart 🔥
When it comes to the nervous system, forcing yourself to feel things doesn’t usually work very well.
In fact, often what the system needs is not to keep feeling the painful or uncomfortable feeling… but to feel relaxed.
In other words…
It needs to stop feeling so sympathetic / fight-or-flight (activated) and start feeling parasympathetic (deactivated).
One way to flip the switch from sympathetic to parasympathetic is to watch movies, read books, listen to music and flirt with pretty girls (or boys, if that’s your thing).
You can also go for a walk, have a cup of tea, play a musical instrument, draw, paint, sing, climb trees, hike or climb mountains, lie on the grass (naked if you prefer), give (or get) a hug (or kiss), have sex, spoon (or fork), play with your pets or pendulate your awareness around your body while maintaining a peripheral awareness of the discomfort (this works amazingly well).
Annnnnd you can also drink a beer, smoke a cigarette, punch a cone, buy shit you don’t need with money you don’t have, space out to porn or any of a number of unhealthy things.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed and activated, what your nervous system wants is to come out of that sympathetic activation and into parasympathetic rest-and-digest 😌
It’s not about the music or the movie or the porn or the sex or the cigarettes or the video games or the cup of tea or the lying naked on the grass.
It’s about deactivating your sympathetic / fight-or-flight response.
Knowing that, you can swap out unhealthy “resources” for healthy “resources” (since the specific resource is only a means to an end).
Knowing that your system doesn’t actually care about the music or the porn or the sex or the cigarette but just wants to settle down, you can swap out the beer or the porn or the cigarette for beautiful music, a walk outside or simply pendulating your awareness around your body.
This is the beauty of understanding (and working directly with) your nervous system.
It puts YOU in the driver’s seat of your life (and gives you permission to have some fun instead of having to always be wading through the muck) 💪
Continue learning here…
P.S. That’s not to say that you should NEVER feel your feelings.
It’s not that simple or black and white.
Sometimes, feelings absolutely DO need to be felt. I’ve had incredible releases come from tracking feelings as they move through my body.
But other times, what the system needs is the opposite. Less feeling uncomfortable and more feeling relaxed, as described above.
P.P.S. Know anyone who uses unhealthy resources when they could use healthy resources to soothe their system instead?
Refer them to The Daily Growl (this email newsletter) and give them beastly new tools for understanding and regulating their nervous system and fight-or-flight response.