What to do with BIG feelings

Woman with little birds flying out of her head

There are a lot of feelings happening right now, aren’t there? It’s totally normal to feel anxious, sad, overwhelmed, happy, creative, grateful, and angry all in the same day. Or the same 10 minutes.

Even though it’s normal, sometimes it’s hard to know WHAT to do with these big feelings when they pop up. For a long time, I preferred to ignore them. I shoved them down and got on with my to-do list. I didn’t have time to deal with my feelings!

The numbing happens next. It’s the extra glass of wine. Baking multiple pans of brownies. Binge watching The Crown. Endless scrolling through Facebook and Instagram, or – if you’re cool – Tik-Tok (I’m not. Not a cool gene in me 🙂 )

But you all know that when we don’t actually feel our feelings, they get stuck. They fill up our bodies, causing actual physical pain, like a tight jaw or shoulders. Sometimes they overflow in snippy comments, anger, or a long, ugly cry (nothing wrong with that last one – crying is good!).

Feeling our feelings is hard for many NOT during a pandemic – and now it’s even more in your face because all feelings are heightened. I wrote a blog for Empower Equity Partners on three steps you can take to feel your feelings when they come up. They aren’t hard. They require a little time, but not much. Here’s a link to the article with those three steps: https://www.empowerequitypartners.com/find-inspiration-the-blog/2020/4/17/what-to-do-with-big-feelings

One final word….your feelings aren’t too big. You’re allowed to feel whatever your feeling. You have the capability to feel whatever you’re feeling.

I like to think of our feelings like a wave. If you try to fight the wave and keep your head above the water line, the wave inevitably comes crashing down on you. But if you take a breath and dive straight into the middle of the wave, you’ll come out the other side unscathed.

Feel like you’re failing at everything? Here’s why and what to do about it.

Outline of a person in front of a clock.

A few days ago I posted a poll on Instagram with the question, “Do you feel like you’re failing at everything right now?”

85% of people said YES.

That’s a whole lot of people feeling like they’re failing all over the place.

And I know enough to confidently say – there’s no way you’re failing. You’re amazing. Your mind is just playing tricks on you.

And it also makes sense that you feel like you’re failing – even though it’s a total lie.

Here’s why:

The entire definition of productivity has changed in the last six weeks. Instead of being at work and doing work, you are now multitasking in a million areas at the same time. That makes you feel like you’re doing everything half-way (ie, failing).

It’s also harder to find the time and space to do the deep, uninterrupted work that makes you feel like you’re really accomplishing something.

On top of all of this, our culture constantly gives you the message that you’re worth what you produce. That you better wake up and hustle every day and prove your worth. So when you’re not living up to this ambiguous standard, you feel behind.

And if you’re an overachiever or perfectionist TOO – well, then. This is a recipe for feeling like you’re failing.

Here are three things you can do right now to let go of feeling like you’re failing:

  1. Define what “enough” is – what are the 1-2 work things and 1-2 personal things you need to get done each day? Write them down and know that this is your threshold for enough. And do your best to be realistic in what you deem to be enough! (I know…this one is hard for me, too)
  2. Look for the evidence of what you are doing really well. Things you’re proud of. I assure you, there is plenty of it when you start to look.
  3. Whenever that feeling of failure comes up, repeat to yourself: I am worthy for who I am, not what I do. Say it over and over. You will start to believe it.

P.S. I’m talking a lot about topics like this on Instagram – both in posts and in my stories. Come join me at @heather.whelpley if we haven’t connected there already!

Stop “Should-ing” All Over Yourself

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Last spring I was invited to take a day of no obligation.

A day when I followed exactly what my heart and body told me to do.

A day to unhook from all the “shoulds” in my life and just BE.

It was kind of amazing.

And also completely eye-opening to see how much I followed the “should”.

One situation in particular still sticks with me. I completed a hiking loop in a park and immediately thought, “I have time, I should do another loop.”

But then I caught myself. Did I actually WANT to do another loop?

The answer was a clear NO.

I had enjoyed my hour of hiking and it was time to be done.

I realized that I have a big “should” around exercise – mainly that more is always better. That belief has led me in the past to exercise when I was sick or exhausted and to punish myself for overeating by trying to burn all the calories that I had consumed.

I thought I had put these beliefs behind me. That I exercised for my health and because it felt good.

And yet – this SHOULD to do another hiking loop just to get more exercise was my automatic thought.

It was only because I had taken this purposeful day of no obligation that I paused to question my thoughts.

What “shoulds” are you holding onto?

Do you stop yourself from rocking the boat because you SHOULD be the nice girl?

Are you staying in a job because you SHOULD like it?

Do you say yes every time someone asks for your help because you feel like you SHOULD, even if you’re already completely overloaded?

Instead of following your “shoulds” start asking yourself what you really want.

Do you want to speak your mind even if it means rocking the boat?

Is your job actually rewarding and fulfilling?

Do you want to say no without an excuse or apology?

A life of should is not happy. It is overwhelming, stressful, and misaligned to our values.

Following what we actually want is engaging and fun. It can also be hard – but in a good way! The way that makes us learn and grow. And it’s always satisfying. Because it’s authentic and real. Because it’s us showing up exactly as we are.

So start asking what you really want. And stop shoulding all over yourself.

Heather Whelpley is a coach and speaker that works with high achieving women that want to stop overwhelm and get back their joy while still having a successful career. Click here to get the Five Steps To Reclaim Your Joy.