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  • Writer's pictureJosh Killam, LPC

Attend to Your Feelings, You Deserve It

Updated: Jul 12, 2023

I have recently been working with a client to help them learn how to feel safe enough to slow down and make space for their feelings. To set the stage for this type of work, I asked my client to practice spending 3 minutes between each activity during the day. The request was to sit mindfully and quietly with no expectations. There were no other rules tied to that experience. Just sit quietly without judgment for 3 minutes in between daily projects. Over the weeks, my client reported having felt success in the practice with minimal but positive results. In our most recent conversation, my client gave me a brief anecdote about how his morning had been emotionally challenging. They started their day feeling stressed, anxious, angry, and few other negative emotions. The day just started on the wrong foot, and the client was not feeling at their best. After the tumultuous morning, my client continued with their daily routine, including sitting mindfully for 3 minutes. As if by accident, all of those feelings that were ruining the day came to the surface. One by one, each emotion was seen and attended to. My client described giving time and attention to each feeling, and as this happened, the negative emotion slowly dissipated. By the end of the 3 minutes, the negative emotion had lifted, and they felt invigorated and ready to restart the day.

I thought this was a beautiful example of how attending to our feelings can be all we need. What do I mean by attending to? I mean listening, seeing, hearing, knowing, and remembering ourselves. Our feelings can be like little children who are crying for attention. If you have ever had an experience with a visibly upset child, you will understand what I mean when I say sometimes all they need is to be picked up and hugged.

Sometimes all we need is to feel seen. By sitting quietly and allowing space for feelings to arise and speak to us, we can grant ourselves the opportunity to attend to our emotions. And that can be enough. I want to say that again, paying attention to and feeling our feelings Can Be Enough. We have all heard it before, “I don’t need you to fix this; I just need you to listen to me.” I think what we mean when we say that is I need for my emotions to be recognized by you; I need for you to see my hurt, “just notice me.” To feel understood by ourselves and our intimate relationships is a deep universal need that we all possess. Moments of understanding can be transformational in the simplest of ways. This might feel foreign to many of us because I think many of us have never been taught that we can pay attention to our feelings. That attending to our emotions can be enough. We have been conditioned to feel as if there is not something to be acted on or changed, then there is nothing to do, and everything “should be fine.” I think this is far from the case. At times, what we need is to feel seen, if even only by ourselves. Sitting quietly and focusing inward on what your feelings are in the moment. Treating yourself with kindness and grace to feel understood. Remember, if I am approaching myself with angry demands, that will only push my feelings deeper inside.

I want to offer you permission to withhold the demands and expectations from yourself. Recognize the negative self-talk that leads to shaming and judgment. These are not helpful. Practice feeling valuable by paying attention to what you feel in your body and treating your emotions as valuable. Often, this is all that is needed to help that wave of fear or anxiety to subside. The beautiful thing about this process is that feeling seen and understood isn’t enough or all that you need. Your body will tell you. Willingly without force or fight, your body will give you the words, to act out what you need or to ask for what you need, we must only listen. It will feel right to act on what you need. There will be no struggle or feelings of uncertainty because you allow your body to answer your questions. Because, honestly, our body is where most of our answers lie. We need only listen.

Try it now; set a timer on your phone for 3 minutes. Sit without judgment. Attend to what comes up. Practice teaching yourself that you deserve to be seen and attended to.

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