I’ve written before about the greatness that is Augusten Burroughs’s new book, This is How, and this post builds on that idea. Seriously, this book is the truth. One of the concepts Augusten talks about is owning what you’re feeling. He explains that many people believe (maybe even subconsciously) they’re only supposed to feel “pretty” feelings and therefore they try to push feelings like anger, insecurity, or jealousy to the side even if they’re important or useful. Augusten encourages you to own how you’re feeling and allow yourself to feel it fully, even if the emotion isn’t particularly delicate, cute, or pleasant.
He is so beyond right. I never realized how much I do/did this in my own life until I read about that concept in the book. I would try to disguise a feeling or convince myself I was feeling something I wasn’t. But when you start owning your emotions, life is so much better. More truthful and more clear. I finally admitted to myself that while I do want to move to another city and get a full-time writing job, I realized I’m pretty scared to move away from a place I’ve known my whole life. Long distance is also not my favorite concept in the world. For some reason I was trying to hide these fears. I guess it’s a little embarrassing and I’d like to think of myself as completely bold, but I’m not. And that’s okay. And now that I can admit how I’m feeling, it’s a lot easier to see situations for what they truly are and then find ways to work through them.
I take guitar lessons once a week, and my guitar teacher and I usually end up talking about life too. We got to talking about this idea, and my guitar teacher said he thinks when you own your feelings it’s easier to figure out patterns in your own behavior so you can see why you’re doing what you’re doing. That makes a lot of sense to me. If you don’t realize you’re feeling a certain way, you may not even realize how these emotions you’re not recognizing are influencing your behavior. You feel shame and don’t admit it, so this hidden shame causes you to lash out or hang out with people you might not otherwise hang out with. You get the idea. You may not even fully understand why you’re acting the way you are. But when you’re honest with yourself and feel what you feel without shame, it’s a lot easier to understand your behavior and your true desires. Everything in your life syncs up instead of feeling disconnected and muddy.
Do you own your feelings? It’s tough to do sometimes! How are you working on it?