I Feel Two Different Feelings!
As I embarked for the airport to take my flight home—saying goodbye to the people I love most, in a town I spent years growing up in—I felt a sense of uneasiness in my body. I recognized that I was feeling several feelings at once. I was sad to leave, but I was also excited and anxious to get back to my new home.
As I felt the discomfort in my body—especially my heart, stomach and throat (where fear so often resides), I paused.
"This is okay, too," I whispered to myself as I placed my right hand on my heart and took a breath in. Yes, I was experiencing multiple different feelings in my body—but that was okay too. They all had the right to be here, just like any other emotion.
When we have two conflicting feelings, it can make us feel uncomfortable or uneasy. This is especially true when our feelings have to do with an intimate relationship or a big decision we're about to make. We may experience dissonance when we are feeling two or more emotions at once, feeling as though we must have ONE feeling, and that ONE feeling must feel good.
Usually, when we experience uncomfortable emotions, we believe that something must be wrong. This is an unconscious reaction that we have, and in my eyes, mainly engrained by and from society.
The truth is that we are actually beautiful, complex human beings filled with complex emotions. Difficult, uncomfortable emotions are okay—and in fact are necessary for us to be vibrant, alive, and human. Emotions can exist side-by-side with each other, even if they feel contradictory.
These ambiguous questions and concerns are something I hear many times from with my clients and my course members...
"Sometimes, I want to lean in and give my partner a kiss, but there will be something inside of me yelling NO and I so I will pull back."
"I feel like there's a part of me that wants to move in with my partner, but there's another part of me that doesn't!"
"I'm excited for marriage, but there's a part of me that's terrified. Is that normal?"
"I want to be with my partner, but I also find myself thinking about others as well"
Perhaps we feel confused when we are about to make a deeper commitment with our partner, but something inside of us whispers "No."
Perhaps there's a part of us that wants to lean close to our partner, but our body somatically resists...
Perhaps we want to have sex, but we feel fear when we are intimate with our partner. (This is especially common if we've experienced trauma with intimacy, or if beliefs about the "sinfulness of sex" have been instilled in us.)
These are all emotions that can exist alongside each other. Experiencing conflicting emotions is very common in the natural world.
Truly, nature has always been my favorite lesson in this life, especially in the context of anxiety and difficult, uncomfortable emotions. I have seen so many lessons of how life works through nature, and everyday I am humbled. This morning in particular, as I was walking my dog down the street, a heavy rain began to pour. In a matter of seconds, however, the sun started to peek through the clouds. In that moment I thought of how two things can coincide at exactly the same time. The pouring rain of our lives—the difficulty, the suffering, the darkness—but also, the sun peeking through, creating the most magnificent rainbow.
Emotions are energy, just like the energy of the storm and the rain. As always, they come, and they will always go. What matters more than the emotions themselves is what you do is do with these emotions: How you work with them, and the relationship that exists between you and these beautiful energies, even when they sometimes cause discomfort.
Can you be like the sky, observing the clouds that pass by in your mind? Can you also be like the sun peeking through, holding space for the pleasant and the unpleasant together?
Can you recognize the tenderness of the heart that feels terror and anxiety—while also choosing to lean into the choice of love?
Just like a mother holding space for her child. There can be deep fear, but there can also be love. There can be anger, but there can also be a sense of compassion.
Maybe you feel a sense of wanting to be close to your partner, but you also feel as though you want to pull away at the same time.
You can have doubts and feelings of uncertainty about your relationship. while feeling as though you want to be more intimate.
You can experience a sadness while committing deeper to your partner, while at the same time, wanting to commit more deeply in your relationship.
You can feel fear, while wanting to lean into love.
You can feel both, and more. You are entitled to experience many feelings at the same time.
You are just like the storm and the sun that exist the same time—and like them, you cast an enchanting rainbow...
When we allow ourselves to contain two or more emotions alongside each other, we create a sense of compassion and acceptance within our bodies. As this sense of compassion and acceptance unfolds, new patterns in our nervous system are created, which in turn help our partners and most importantly, ourselves, for the rest of our lives.