I’ll always remember a colleague of mine, Jan, who taught me an invaluable lesson: How to hold space. Jan was a mentor assigned to me many years ago, who advocated for me to stay with discomfort until it moved or I moved. It’s a hard one to learn in my opinion. When we are feeling vulnerable, distressed, unsafe, threatened, lonely, sad – it is human nature, and culturally taught, that we should move to feeling happy/balanced, content again. Where we, as humans, get into trouble, is that for every emotion we label as ‘positive’ (e.g. joy, peace, contentment) there are ones we label as ‘negative’ (e.g. envy, grief, fear). This sorting of feelings seems to be something inherent in us, and something we are inadvertently taught. Certainly it is largely more comfortable to exist within the ‘positive’ emotional space, yet there is much to be said for learning to accept ‘negative’ emotions and feelings in your space.
I was working with a new client today, let’s call her Arianne, who was ‘pushing’ through the complex work that she was undertaking with regards to some of her relationships. She wanted to be feeling ‘better’ in time for Christmas. Whilst there is merit in that idea, it is totally ok to not be fine in time for Christmas. It’s totally ok to have negative feelings live inside you, and your house. Negative feelings are the flip side of the positive feelings coin. You can’t have one without the other. And as Arianne and I were talking today, we realised together that part of the process of healing or experiencing life in both the negative and the positive aspects, is allowing space for all feelings to exist.
Learning to let all feelings live in you and your house can be clumsy, embarrassing, awkward, overwhelming, lovely, amazing and beautiful. All can live together, and all should. There’s amazing benefits in allowing and making space for all parts of you to exist in. The trouble is that we feel like we are supposed to move through our negative feelings more quickly than we actually can.
My Christmas wish for you, my friends, is that you allow yourself to feel all the feelings. Whenever you want. Sit with them, name and acknowledge them and then let them pass through. I can guarantee that allowing them to exist, and live inside you and your home, will reduce their intensity and your anxiety. Of course, you need to act responsibly with them (see my tips here, here, here and here).
Do you allow your feelings inside you and your house?