Connecting with yourself can be an incredibly difficult task. It’s not something that the majority of us were ever taught. On top of that, you were probably taught to do the exact opposite, which was not to focus on yourself or your feelings.
If you struggle with connecting with yourself, that’s because you don’t know how to get in touch with your emotions. That’s another thing that you probably weren’t taught. In order to learn how to do that, we first need to look at what you’re actually doing that is not helpful for connecting with yourself.
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Connecting with Yourself and Your Feelings
As a psychotherapist, I often ask the proverbial, “How does that make you feel,” but in my own way. My patients are used to hearing me say, “What’s the feeling there.” I rarely have anybody respond instantly.
The reason for that is, like I mentioned before, you were not taught anything about connecting with yourself or how to get in touch with your emotions. When my patients struggle to identify and name what they are feeling, I will name the feelings I believe they might be experiencing.
That allows them to take a moment to consider whether the feelings I named are accurate. Typically, they are then able to name what they are feeling.
How to Get in Touch with Your Emotions
That is what I do with my three-year-old son as well. I am sharing that because I am illustrating how you can begin connecting with yourself and how you can then teach your children to do the same.
Also, to show you that us adults are the same as children because we all have a need to learn how to get in touch with our emotions. You are also learning how to do something that doesn’t come naturally, and you weren’t taught as a child.
If you want to learn how to do this with your own children, read my post, Teaching Feeling the Emotions (Emotional Regulation for Kids). That post is also very beneficial if you’re an adult who struggles with connecting with yourself.
I will give you Four Steps for Connecting with Yourself after I explain how you are not doing that on a daily basis. This will be a big reality check, even for those of you who feel like you are fairly well-versed in connecting with yourself.
How You Share Your Experiences
Think about times when you are able to share your experiences with somebody. We tend to use the collective you when we do so. There are two problems with that.
The first is that we are not fully acknowledging our feelings and experiences as our own. That leads us to the second problem, which is making assumptions that others have the same feelings or experiences. This is what that sounds like.
“You know when you’re in a relationship and somebody says something hurtful, you just want to scream and say something back to hurt them, too?”
“When you’re feeling down, you just want to be left alone.”
Do you see any issues with these types of statements? Yes, you are able to share your experiences and hint towards the feelings you had. However, you are not truly allowing yourself to independently own your feelings.
Not only that, but you should be able to see that you are making assumptions about the person with whom you are speaking. Yes, we need connection with others, but not at the expense of struggling with connecting with yourself.
Connecting to Yourself
My patients hear me say one word over and over throughout their sessions. That word is “I.” It can often be startling to them because they aren’t aware of how they are disconnected to themselves and how using the collective you furthers that disconnect.
Eventually, they begin to self-correct. They start using “I,” which allows them to identify their feelings as their own and express them. Again, this is a learning process because most of you were not taught how to get in touch with your emotions.
Throughout the next several days, I want you to pay attention to conversations you have with others. You will notice how the collective you is very common when you share your experiences with others and they do the same.
The “I” Challenge
I’m challenging you to try to catch yourself using the collective you when you share your experiences. If it helps you, pretend you know what my voice sounds like and imagine you hear me saying, “I” over and over to you.
For those of you who don’t know me, I have a deep Southern drawl. So, “I” tends to sound a little more like when the doctor tells you to stick your tongue out and say “aaahhh.” If you need me to record that in a video, just let me know and I’ll be happy to do so in the name of you connecting with yourself!
If you accept this challenge, I want to give you a strong caution. DO NOT staring yelling “I” at the people you converse with when you catch them using the collective you. Remember that they have their own healing journey and it’s not your job to tell them how to walk it.
If you struggle with wanting to tell people how they need to heal or what they need to do, I highly recommend reading my post, Society’s Need to Give Unsolicited Advice. It will explain why you should never tell somebody what he or she should do on his or her healing journey.
You can certainly send them this post, but not because you are trying to force them to do this process. If you share it with them, be vulnerable and let them know what you found helpful and how you are working on this.
They might even be willing to be an “I” accountability partner for you! If you go that route, make sure you are truly willing to be held accountable because it can potentially get very irritating.
Be cautious about whom you choose, if you choose somebody to be your “I” accountability partner. Make sure it’s somebody who can do it in a way that benefits you or it is absolutely pointless and you’d be better off being your own accountability partner.
Now, I think you’re ready for me to give you the Four Steps for Connecting with Yourself that I promised. Hopefully, you understand the things you are doing that prevent that connection a little better now.
Four Steps for Connecting with Yourself
- Identify and name the feeling that you are/were experiencing when having conversations with others or with yourself.
- Explore what behaviors accompany each of those feelings.
- Find healthy ways to express and honor those feelings.
- Let go of the judgment you may have about the feelings you are experiencing.
The ability to identify and name your feelings is one of the most, if not the most, important steps when connecting to yourself. Again, you probably weren’t taught how to do that. So, be patient and kind to yourself when navigating this step.
Since you weren’t taught how to do it, it’s something that will take a lot of practice. You will not be perfect at this. However, it will benefit you and help you be a more emotionally present and emotionally available person. The world needs more of that!
I have a patient I have seen for several years, and I just adore her. She too struggles with identifying and naming her feelings. When I ask her what she’s feeling, she pulls out her little notebook.
In that notebook, she has a list of feelings. That helps her quickly identify what she’s feeling so that we can process whatever feeling she is experiencing. I recommend you do the same as you begin the process of connecting with yourself.
Here’s a list for you to use. Screen shot it so that you always have it handy. Also, feel free to add other feelings as this list is far from exhaustive.
List of Feelings to Aid in Connecting with Yourself
Angry Fear/Scared Guilt Shame Hopeful
Annoyed Powerless Confused Stressed Anxious
Courageous Joy Disgust Happy Proud
Sad Excitement Lonely Worried Frustrated
Embarrassed Disconnected/Numb Bored Accepted Calm
Hatred Jealous Apathetic Nostalgic Satisfied
Exploring Behaviors and Connecting to Yourself
Exploring the behaviors that are connected to each feeling is just as important as identifying your feelings. Connecting to yourself requires you to take a deep look at everything about yourself, the way you interact with others, and how you feel about yourself.
You WILL find things that you do not like about yourself. That’s okay and normal. Those things serve as a guide to what you need to heal in order to learn to love and accept yourself.
If your negative self-talk gets a little too loud during this process, read my post, Silence Your Inner Critic: 5 Powerful Steps for Self-Sabotaging Behavior. Just don’t forget to come back to this process if you’re truly ready for this.
The reason that you want to explore the behaviors connected to your feelings is that not doing so can lead you down a toxic, downward spiral. Not identifying your behaviors connected to your feelings will result in even more feelings related to the behaviors.
You will judge yourself or beat yourself up for the way you behave. Your behaviors are a result of your feelings. When you can identify both, you are connecting with yourself and allowing space for healing.
The next step of finding healthy ways to express your feelings is often a big obstacle for many. There are lots of ways to do this, but you just have to find what works for you. I’ll give you a few ideas that have helped me.
Ways to Express Your Feelings in a Healthy Way
• Find a licensed therapist (MOST IMPORTANT).
• Get on your bed and hit your feet and legs on your mattress as if you’re a toddler throwing a tantrum to get it out of your body.
• Talk to a friend who can hold space for your feelings
• Throw rocks or anything that is safe and feels good to throw
• Listen to songs that relate to how you’re feeling
Self-Judgment and Your Feelings
As for honoring those feelings, that is simple and difficult at the same time. It is so easy to judge ourselves for “negative” feelings. Change how you view those “negative” feelings. Allow yourself to see that those “negative” feelings are simply a way of connecting with yourself on your healing journey.
If you notice yourself judging how you feel, start over at Step One. Walk yourself through that process with your self-judgment.
At all times throughout this process, remind yourself that you are learning how to do something you were never taught. That is hard to do. Not only that, but you are teaching yourself something that you’ve probably not even seen many people do. That is a HUGE accomplishment!
You WILL mess up. You will probably get frustrated with yourself. That is okay! When that happens, find a way to practice some self-care and start when you’re ready again.
Share Your Experiences
My hope in writing this post is that you can start connecting with yourself, which will teach others to do to the same. If we all start doing that, just imagine how the world will change.
Not only that, but we will be teaching all future generations to get in touch with their feelings and express them in healthy ways. As I say often, “As I heal, the world heals.”
When you do your healing work, it’s like sending an invitation to every person with whom you interact, inviting them to do their own healing work. I would love to hear your thoughts about this process and ways that you express your feelings in a healthy way.
Also, if you accept my “I” challenge to limit your collective you use, I want to know how it goes. The Not Good Enough Stuff Community is a safe, loving, and accepting community. So, post your comments to help us all on our healing journeys.
This site is only intended for people who are truly willing to look at themselves with an open mind and have the ability to truly be vulnerable with themselves and others. Please understand that this site is in NO WAY THERAPEUTIC ADVICE. However, this site can be very beneficial in learning the causes of your Not Good Enough Stuff. This site is not intended to provide or replace medical or psychiatric treatment. Mary Beth HIGHLY RECOMMENDS finding a licensed therapist to help you process the information from this site and all that you learn about yourself. Visit Psychology Today to find a licensed therapist in your area.