Are You Recycling or Rinsing?

If you want relief from undesirable feelings, stop putting them in the blue bin.

"To give vent now and then to his feelings, whether of pleasure or discontent, is a great ease to a man's heart." -Francesco Guicciardini

At the beginning of each session with my clients, I ask them to set an intention. This week a theme that emerged was the intention to be free from consistent undesirable feelings. It seems many of my clients had things happening this week that triggered sadness or anger that they were longing for relief from.

Can you relate to ever wanting to cry "Uncle!" to get out from under a feeling? Perhaps you had a good cry or took your anger to a boxing class but still couldn't shake the feeling. Perhaps there was some temporary relief but then it kept coming back!

There are two ways to be with or process feelings: recycling or rinsing. When we engage in judgment or analysis while we are expressing a feeling, we end up recycling it. For instance, it is not especially relieving to cry while judging ourselves as pathetic, feeling sorry for ourselves, or analyzing all the reasons why we are sad. When we are in recycling mode, we see ourselves as victims and are consistently asking "why;" searching for some explanation that will free us from the feeling. We do not allow ourselves to ride the feeling long enough so that we truly experience the height of the emotion because we simply want it to go away. But what ends up happening is that it just comes back around again later. And the more we try to suppress a feeling or solve it with our minds, the more it recycles.

Conversely, rinsing a feeling is when you allow yourself to 100% feel a feeling without any judgment, analysis, or desire to get out of it. I learned rinsing from Mona Miller, my teacher at the Communication Arts Company. When a feeling comes up, set aside time to fully express it when you can truly be with yourself. Feel don't think. Resist the temptation to analyze your feelings or the situation that is triggering them. Attempting to figure out our feelings interrupts and prevents our full expression of them. The most important part of rinsing a feeling is to have compassion for yourself the entire time you are going through it. There is a part of you that is in the upset and there is another part of you that knows "all is well" that can be compassionate.

As you start to feel like the intensity of the feeling you are expressing is decreasing, it is important to engage in self-soothing of some kind. Spend some time nurturing yourself by moving into the energy of forgiveness. Forgive yourself and anyone else you may be holding judgment against that triggered the feeling. And instead of asking, "why?" ask: "what am I learning?" Often the key reason why feelings get recycled rather than rinsed is because we are holding on to blame, a need to be right or know why something is happening.

So when it comes to recycling, save that for your bottles and cans! If you want true relief from feelings set aside some time to rinse. And remember to honor your feelings rather than wanting to rid yourself from them because they always present an opportunity for learning and healing.