Four Tools for the Feels

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Dear Soft Hearted Loves,

Some folx ask about how to feel their feelings. I get it. It’s hard to feel feelings. I will say in my experience as a clinical psychologist I know you have everything you need right now to feel your feelings. There actually are no tools one needs, but because we are programmed to get away from the moment it can be very confusing and baffling to tap into one’s emotions or express emotions. Some people may struggle with feeling their feelings because there wasn’t room to express oneself in their home or within society or because they may not have had models to display emotional expression. For example, in Farsi people say “don’t cry” as a soothing statement, but now I find this confusing and contradictory as we now know that when we cry we actually release toxins. There’s so much messaging around suppressing one’s feelings. Sometimes the only emotion expressed in one’s household was anger. This can also be confusing when people feel sadness, disappointment, and an array of other emotions. I also believe we may not fully feel joy if we don’t allow for all our feelings to be felt, even less desirable feelings. You may explore where stuck grief, feelings of abandonment or loneliness, sadness, or other emotions can be hard for you with a healing provider, but for now here are some tools to help feel the feels. Also, if it’s too much for you, you can stop.

  1. Writing it out: One way people can feel and release their feelings is somatically. This can be done through movement including talking, writing, dancing, etc. If you choose to write it out it may be helpful to focus your writing on identifying the part of you that is feeling this feeling and where it comes up in your body.  For example perhaps it it is your inner critic part and comes up as low back aches and you turtle up.
  2. Grounding: Additionally, folx can ground themselves in the moment through strategies that are calming for the senses (such as feeling the weight of a blanket on you or rocking from side to side or like you might in a rocking chair) or you may benefit from alerting sensory strategies (such as smelling something citrusy like an orange or eating something sour mindfully).  
  3. Breathing: A few sessions of breathing big, slow and long everyday can change the parasympathetic nervous system. When we do breathwork we can have access to healing and giving our nervous system a chance.
  4. Note what arises: You can let feelings or thoughts arise without attaching stories to the feeling or deriving a conclusion from what arises. While your analytical mind may be helpful, it can be even more valuable to focus on the moment by grounding, breathing, and letting thoughts and feelings be without figuring stuff out. When observing or noting a thought or feeling we don’t engage in an inner dialogue between the inner critic and inner defender, which only takes us further from the moment.

I’m offering a few ways to feel one’s feelings as not everyone may be able to or have access to each of these approaches. It’s okay too if one of these tools does not fit. There is no goal you need to arrive at with feeling your feelings. You’re already doing a good job. You’re already enough as you are. I’m wishing you gentleness and self-compassion on your emotional expression journey.

With kindness,

Dr. Joharchi

2 thoughts on “Four Tools for the Feels

  1. This article was much needed for me right now. Thank you for the great and useful suggestions for what to do with all our feelings. It can feel overwhelming without some direction. Thank you Dr. J!


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