Reconnect with your inner wisdom to resolve the barriers that are keeping you stuck and holding you back
I remember the day I fell out of love with my first business. We’d had an amazing relationship for the first seven years. But without notice, it was suddenly over.
Fearful and deeply frustrated, I questioned “Now what?” Making more money than I ever had before, I should be happy – right? I should appreciate what I’ve got! But I didn’t… I felt like an imposter.
I always swore I’d avoid the nine-to-five grind. But there I was: hating the very business I’d created, strapped to my desk and computer. After several months of misery, I threw in the towel. I updated my resume and posted it on Monster.
Two hours later, I got a call. It was a headhunter. And the very next day, I was on the campus of the world’s largest software manufacturer. Optimistic about what I’d find within the corporate structure, I imagined myself surrounded by hundreds of driven achievers. I sensed that my worries would soon be removed. Wondering if this could be my new “home,” I was thrilled that my need for challenge and collaboration would soon be honored once again.
My first interviewer described the “expectations of the job,” then asked me if I was still interested.
“Of course I’m still interested!” I exclaimed. “It’s a perfect fit for my skills in marketing and sales. I also know a lot about technology and love people.”
“Great (read: ‘uh-huh, sure’), then tell me why you’re the best person for this job,” he responded with sarcasm.
Undeterred, I launched into my pitch, selling my assets with zeal. “It sounds like you need someone who really listens and can decipher the patterns and trends around human interaction.”
Over the next three interviews, my excitement waned. But I was determined not to let it show.
And so it went, interview after interview. Anything that had been overlooked by the nasty side of my inner voice was shattered into pieces by the process itself (which seemed unreasonably exhausting). My confidence and enthusiasm continued to diminish, chipped away at, piece by piece – until I got to my last interview (which actually turned out to be the gift I needed).
As I sat down in the interviewer’s office, I immediately sensed something different. The inspirational artwork. The knowing, supportive energy. And above all, her kindness and understanding.
After handing me a glass of water, the woman gently asked, “What are you hoping for with this job?”
I couldn’t lie. “I was really excited about the potential, and noticed it includes travel. I’m a hopeful person. I thought I could be creative and really use my people skills. It really seemed –”
She gently interrupted: “I can sense that.”
Closing the door, she turned back to me. “I love being happy and excited too,” she said. “I’m curious, how are you feeling about working for this company right now?” The kindness in her expression told me it was okay to be real.
“I don’t know,” I admitted. “I feel like I’m trying to fit into your world, but something feels amiss.”
Our conversation continued a few minutes longer. As she ushered me to the door, she whispered, “You don’t belong here.”
She was right.
I didn’t belong there. Walking to my car, feelings of desperation started to creep back and overwhelm me.
As anxiety tried to reassert itself, I began to realize my feelings of desperation were oddly familiar – and they had nothing to do with my interview experience. Working 60 to 70 hours and 7 days a week within my own business, I had grown tired of all work and no play.
I felt lost and helpless under the volume of work I had become accustomed to. Dating and finding the time to invest in romantic relationships had become a pipe-dream. And with nothing left for my friends or even myself, I’d wake in the middle of the night, anxious about my predicament. Is this how the rest of my life is going to go?
These feelings and needs had gone ignored for over a year. I had fallen asleep to who I was and what truly mattered to me.
Unable to immediately make sense of those feelings, I resisted them. They were uncomfortable and, at times, all-consuming – freezing me up and overriding my focus. Had I known back then what I know now, I would have recognized those feelings for what they were: messengers. And if I had paid attention to what they were trying to tell me about myself, I probably would have changed things a whole lot sooner. And, I never would have tried to escape into cubicle nation. (I know that’s backwards, but the grass is always greener…)
I eventually did change my business. But more importantly, I changed myself. I gave myself permission to be true to me, and let my authentic self shine through. In doing so, I reinvented my business and infused it with what truly mattered to me, letting go of the aspects that left me drained and unenthusiastic. I also kept what mattered most to me, my love of creativity, change and deep and meaningful relationships in support of the greater good.
The restless nights turned into peaceful sleep as I created life-work balance. I greatly improved my interactions with friends and social settings (because I’m actually able to take time to enjoy the people in my life now!). Still working on the romance though, so if you know anyone…
I was able to make all these changes in less than a year. And the whole process began by paying attention to those uncomfortable feelings. It’s not an easy thing to do. But there are a few key steps that can help get you started.
How to decipher the hidden messages embedded within your feelings
Life should energize you. If you’re struggling and aren’t sure why, don’t just continue on as before and hope everything will sort itself out. It won’t. By not addressing the source of these uncomfortable feelings, you risk remaining in this state for years. Your life is too precious for that!
So take a moment to apply the following three steps to your situation:
- STEP 1: Take inventory of your feelings and needs
- STEP 2: Recognize these feelings and sensations as real then fully embrace them
- STEP 3: Listen to what your feelings are trying to tell you and act accordingly
- STEP 4: Set yourself free and fully enjoy your one precious life
1. Take inventory of your feelings and needs
Create a list of your feelings. How do you feel in this moment? Are you feeling happy or frustrated? Anxious or calm? Interested or numb? Or do you feel joyful and content? Write down what is true for you. And if you need a list of feelings to refer to, click here.
Where in your life are you resisting your feelings or needs? Are you in a relationship where your needs go unmet? Do you feel disconnected or unappreciated? Are you overwhelmed and frustrated at the office? Do you bury your feelings inside because you can’t afford the impact they could have on you?
More often than not, our feelings – especially those we “bury or mask” – affect us physically.
Do you have bodily discomforts (headaches, insomnia, loss of appetite, upset stomach, irritability, muscle cramps or twitching, tension in your neck or shoulders)? Your emotions influence how you feel physically. So even if you aren’t feeling your emotions, your body will let you know otherwise. If you are struggling to identify your feelings, you can write down your bodily sensations as another option. (They are all interconnected!)
2. Recognize these feelings and sensations as real then fully embrace them
Your feelings are legitimate. The problems and emotions you’re struggling with are not just “in your head.” Processing them effectively is your first big achievement in the process.
I’ll be the first to admit: it can be uncomfortable to stay with a feeling. On the surface, it appears to be far easier to dismiss your feelings or just bottle them up. They “seem” to disappear, but you aren’t actually processing them. Instead, you’re filling up your system with energy that will find a way of expressing itself in other ways (undesirably at best, detrimental at worst). Explosive emotional outbreaks or autoimmune diseases are a few common examples.
By getting to know these feelings, you can create a process of “staying with the feeling” until it passes. And it will pass. This allows your body to process the emotion so it doesn’t become stuck within you. It also prevents it from becoming an undesirable part of your personality and affecting the way in which you interact with others. If you struggle with this step in the process or need greater guidance, I highly recommend working with a holistic coach or other professional to support you in this journey to wholeness and life satisfaction.
3. Listen to what your feelings are trying to tell you and act accordingly
Our feelings can be difficult to accept. Often painful and confusing, the natural temptation is to avoid them. But that only magnifies their impact and keeps you stuck. The same rings true with those uncomfortable bodily sensations. It’s like when your wrist hurts yet you remain at the computer. Or your stomach is unsettled but you plow forward with a decision that ends up not right for you.
If you’ve made it this far, the good news is: you’re nearly there.
The hardest part of change is having the courage to recognize the need for it. So take a moment to pat yourself on the back. Now pay attention to what may be seeking to emerge from within you. Let’s look at a few examples:
- Dissatisfaction If you feel dissatisfied, that’s an invitation for change. It could also indicate a desire to address the person or situation you are unhappy with.
- Hurt If you feel hurt or dismissed by someone, it may be time to have a conversation or consider other people for better support.
- Nervous and stressed If you are feeling anxious and stressed, it might not just be your workload. It could be time to work with a professional to prevent the stress and anxiety you’re feeling from impacting your health and life as a whole.
- Energized If you feel alive and awake, this is a strong indicator that you are living your best life, being your true self. Go you!
These are just a few examples of what your feelings might be telling you.
4. Set yourself free and fully enjoy your one precious life
I know it may feel like those pesky emotions will never disappear – like that anxiety that fills your mind with negativity and fearful thoughts, leaving you exhausted and overwhelmed on a daily basis. Or the disappointment you feel when things never seem to work out. And, yes, those feelings of hopelessness that creep in when your dreams fall to pieces.
But guess what: no matter how bad things seem, it’s only temporary.
Emotions pass through you. It’s built into your biology. And the way to get out of these uncomfortable feelings is not to bury them, but to address them by working with them. Once you start listening to those emotional and somatic messages then responding with the appropriate kinds of changes – VIOLA! – life lifts you up. And everything that seemed impossible becomes easy for you.
While there are no real shortcuts to meaningful, sustainable personal development, there are those who’ve walked the same road you’re on now. And they’ve come through it, just like you will. So I’d like to emphasize the benefit of working with someone who can help you move through and expedite your process. They won’t show you the way – because “the way” is different for all of us. But they can provide the guidance and support of a professionally trained person, and offer you the empathy and loving presence you need to travel the path of learning your emotions.
P.S. Feeling a little tense about the idea of processing emotions?
Instead of stressing about what I’m sharing. Know this: The answers are just below the surface of your attention. Relax and let your emotions and bodily sensations guide you. And know that it’s all going to work out. (literally!)
You don’t have to remain stuck in anxiety and fear or lost in a life that doesn’t light you up every day!
Ready for a change? Don’t want to go it alone? Call us at 888-660-5588 or schedule your free consultation and learn how Whole Person Coaching can change your life for the better. You’ll benefit from partnering with a coach who cares about your total well-being and supports you to be highly effective at creating a life and career you’ll absolutely love. Interesting in finding the right coach to make your 2016 even better? Try our Find-A-Coach Directory here!
Feroshia Knight, MA, MCC is the founder of Coach Training World and creator of Whole Person Coaching. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her fur baby Molokai. She has devoted herself to being a catalyst for positive change for over three decades. When not in the classroom, she is likely in the studio or out in nature absorbing the beauty of this world.