Whatever with Heather - Mindset, Parenting & Personal Growth

12. Trusting Yourself to Feel [and the Emotional Hierarchy]

September 21, 2023 Heather Evans Season 1 Episode 12
Whatever with Heather - Mindset, Parenting & Personal Growth
12. Trusting Yourself to Feel [and the Emotional Hierarchy]
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Personal battles with depression and anxiety led me down a path of  emotional discovery. As I peeled back the layers of my own emotions, I was able to navigate the  waves of life, healing myself and building trust in the process. In this episode, I recount my journey and share the concept of the emotional hierarchy, a personal revelation about how we consciously or unconsciously rank our feelings and how it affects our lives. 

Have you ever wondered why we resist certain emotions and allow others to flourish? Let's unravel this together and you might find a deeper connection and empowerment in your life. In the second half of our conversation, we talk about surrendering to life's emotional ebbs and flows instead of attempting the impossible task of controlling them. Through it all, I've learned that happiness and joy will always find their way back to us after periods of struggle.

Speaker 1:

Hey y'all, welcome back to Whatever. With Heather, we are on episode 12, and if you actually count the episodes, we have an episode zero, and then we have the mini pod with Bennett. So we're actually kind of on episode 14, and I'm really excited about this, because most podcasts do not make it past episode 10. So if you make it to episode 11, you're in the top like 26% of podcasts, and then if you make it to episode 21, you're in like the top 1%. You've made it farther than that. So I'm pretty excited that we've made it this far and, as of today, we are almost at 200 total downloads. I appreciate your support and your listening and sharing this. This is something that I have wanted to do for years, and so I just wanna say thank you, thank you, thank you for listening and for sharing and for your messages to me and feedback on the episodes. It means a lot. It really truly does. Now let's jump into the podcast today. Today, we're talking about trusting yourself to feel. This topic is having some perfect timing in my life, because I have been feeling a lot lately, a lot. I am not a huge crier, but I've been crying almost every day for probably the past week and sometimes multiple times a day. Now, yesterday I didn't cry. Today I haven't cried yet, but there's been a lot of tears and I'm talking like gentle tears as well as like sobbing and snot crying, you know what I mean when you're like embarrassed Lots of lumps in my throat where I just have to cry and let it out. It's pretty bizarre for me, it's not normal for me to have this much emotion come up in my life. It's been really weird. But it's also been super interesting for me to kind of experience this and to watch myself navigate this, especially as someone who in the past has had depression and anxiety, navigating, crying a lot, in a way where I don't spiral into a depressed state. So the good news is is that I haven't spiraled into feeling depressed and by allowing myself to feel and not trying to quote, unquote, fix it I have been able to feel myself, move through this current phase of my life where I am processing a lot for whatever reason. Today we're going to talk about trusting yourself to feel. We'll talk a little bit about my journey with depression and anxiety, as well as what I like to call the emotional hierarchy and how to ride the waves of life. Here's a quick disclaimer, especially because I'm talking about depression and anxiety, which I know so many people deal with. My disclaimer is that I am sharing my experiences and my experiences are not downplaying your experiences. These are simply my own experiences. So if you can relate to what I talk about, then hopefully you'll feel less alone. Or if you feel resistance to what I'm saying, just remember these are just my experiences and my viewpoints, me sharing my journey. It's not me saying I'm right and you're wrong, and that my journey is right and your journey is wrong. The reason I feel like I need to say this disclaimer is because we really live in a world where most people are trying to prove that their viewpoint is right and therefore other people's viewpoint is wrong, and that is not what I am here for. I am here to share my journey and support people along the way, and there is no judgment on anyone's experience who is different than mine. In fact, I would expect most people to not have the exact same experience as me. Maybe some things in common, but some things different, because we all are different. I say this disclaimer not to be like a people pleaser, but rather because we just do live in a world that is so aggressive with this is right and my viewpoint is right and therefore the other viewpoint is wrong. If you know me in person, if you know me directly, that is not the vibe I'm here for. I do not think that I am right and other people are wrong. I think when we all bring our stories together, we all benefit from the collective truth of each of our individual viewpoints. Okay, so now that we have that out of the way, let's just move forward into this discussion, this chat. If you look up depression online, it says feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness, and I've realized that in recent years. For me, sadness is not depression. Sadness is sadness For me. In the past, when I felt depression, I did not cry much or feel much at all. I felt meh, like in the middle, not really happy, not really sad. I maybe felt low, but I never really felt the feelings. Depression for me feels more like apathy, hopelessness, loss of interest, what my kids like to call feeling meh, m-e-h. Meh, or just feeling heavy or exhausted by living. That is what depression feels like in my body. Now sometimes I can kind of get confused of like well, maybe that's sad, but for me it feels different than sadness. It feels different than the crying I've been doing over the past few days and by past few days I mean like week. And it's only been in recent years that I've realized that a lot of my depression in the past because for me depression was not really sadness A lot of my depression in the past was due to my resistance against feeling. Now why would I be, or you be, resistant against feeling emotions? This is what I like to call the emotional hierarchy. When I realized this, it really reframed a lot of my life. Now, when we think of emotions, we have a long list of emotions. We could feel joy and bliss, and happiness and excitement and frustration and anger and sadness and worry and grief and so many more emotions as well. And when we look at emotions, we create this hierarchy there are the emotions we like to feel and there are the emotions we don't like to feel, and if we had to stack them all up, we could probably list the emotions from best to worst. This is what I like to call emotional hierarchy, where we place some emotions as more valuable and better than other emotions. And I totally get this. We are humans. We like things that feel good and we avoid things that feel bad, and therefore we label these emotions as good and bad and we stack them up as the higher emotions the better emotions and the lower emotions, the lesser emotions, the bad emotions. And at the top we have the emotions we want to feel and we're driven to feel, and the bottom we have the emotions we avoid and we don't want to feel. But in truth, although we like some emotions and we don't like others, they all serve a purpose and they are all with us to stay. When we say that all we want to be is happy, that can be true, and we have to acknowledge that for the rest of our life we will never be just happy. We will have things that happen. That happiness is not the match of the emotion, of what we are going to experience. I used to believe that if I was feeling happy, that meant I was living a good life. So my happiness became attached to my worthiness or became attached to the value of the things I was doing in my life. Happiness meant my life was good and any other emotion meant my life was bad and I wanted to avoid living a life that was bad. And so when these other emotions would come up. I would not want to feel them because they meant that I was living a bad life. This is not true. Our emotions do not match the value of our life. Our emotions match the experiences that are going on around us and sometimes within us. When I was experiencing depression, quite frequently I would avoid feeling heart emotions and work only to feel the enjoyable emotions, and therefore, anytime I wasn't feeling the enjoyable emotions, I would feel depressed that I wasn't happy. My wanting to be happy all the time to prove my life was in alignment and great and I was doing the right things. My wanting to be happy made me depressed, because life isn't always happy and anytime anything else would come in. Any other feeling would come in. That was not happiness. I would not want to feel it. I just wanted to get back to happiness, and so my pursuit of constant happiness left me depressed. Because I was depressed that I was not happy. I felt hopeless, I felt apathetic, I felt no motivation to do the things I wanted to do, because I didn't understand why I couldn't just be happy. Your happiness level does not equal the quality of your life, and all emotions hold value and all emotions are fleeting. Let me illustrate this First, that all emotions hold value. We often think that happiness this is the emotional hierarchy where we put emotions happiness is the highest emotion and I would argue that one of the most important things in life is connection to other people, connection to self, connection to source, whatever connection you need. Connection is important, but do we not also connect over our most sad, horrible, grief-filled moments? Don't we find support in people that share the same grief and sadness? We can look at the political system and people connect greatly over their shared anger. If you don't like the same things as somebody, you will probably feel more connected to them. And, of course, we connect over happiness. But we also connect over grief and pain and sadness and fear and frustrations and anger. We connect with all of these emotions. They all hold value when it comes to connecting with other people. The things in your life that you will feel sad about and heartbroken over will connect you to somebody else who felt those same things. Your sadness is valuable. Do we like it? No, we don't, but there is value in our emotions, in all of them. The emotional hierarchy of if I am higher up in the hierarchy, I am doing better and if I'm lower down in the hierarchy, I'm doing bad. That has to go in order for you to be able to start to navigate your life and start to trust yourself to feel, and especially trust yourself to feel emotions other than happiness. So, number one all emotions hold value. Number two emotions are fleeting. Let me prove this to you with a visualization. Emotions come and go. Let's imagine for a moment you buy a lottery ticket and you watch the numbers and, yada-da-da, you win the lottery. How are you going to feel? Probably ecstatic, excited like whoo, like get the little, like nervous giggles, like mind-blown emoji, like melt emoji. You're gonna be like, oh, my goodness, what the heck. You're me feeling a lot of like these buzzy emotions, energetic, holy moly, and you winning the lottery is what created that emotional state within you. It's buzzy, it's exciting, it's unbelievable, all right. And so maybe you're feeling like that for a few days, like everything's good, great, great, great. Still can't believe it. This is crazy. Now, while you're sitting at home, one day, you get a phone call that someone you love has been in an accident and they are in the hospital and you do not know whether or not they will make it. How do your emotions shift. In this case, the happiness and excitement does not override the new emotional state that is flowing in the sadness, the grief, the confusion. Maybe you're frustrated, overwhelmed, heartbroken, sorrow, and you feel that and it becomes heavy. Our emotions are fleeting. They flow in and they flow out. They flow in and they flow out. Our emotional states are fleeting. The wave of happiness and excitement that came in with the lottery went right back out to sea and another emotion came in to take its place and that emotion will flow out as well. We know this because we know what it's like to have been feeling grief about something and to have that flow out. And maybe the wave of grief comes back and it flows back out. Our goal becomes, instead of only trying to feel those feel good emotions, we trust ourselves to navigate and ride the waves of life. Imagine you're on a beach, you're standing on the shore, you start walking in the ocean and a wave comes in. You don't put your arms out and try to stop the wave and send it back out. The wave will hit you or you'll ride it back. Maybe you try to catch the wave with your body. Maybe you dive into the wave. You navigate the waves of the ocean. You don't try to stop them because you trust yourself to navigate them. And the more you navigate the waves, the better you get at navigating the waves. You can look at these surfers who can navigate waves that I wouldn't even dream of being near. We become more skilled at navigation. We become more skilled at trusting ourselves to handle the waves of life. We do not try to stop them. Imagine yourself standing on the beach and all you want to do is stop the waves. How will you feel? You will feel hopeless. You will feel depressed. You will feel overwhelmed. You will not understand why you cannot stop the waves. Depression is like that. It is us trying to control the waves of life instead of allowing them to come in, trusting us to navigate them and then also knowing that they will always go back out to sea. And sometimes, yes, in your life it will be wave after wave after wave, and it will be hard and it will be exhausting. And as you navigate waves, you become better at navigating waves. That doesn't mean they hurt any less when they come in and hit you. It doesn't mean the feeling is diluted. It means that you trust yourself to feel the feeling in its wholeness, because you know that all emotions hold value and you know that emotions are fleeting. Trying to control the waves is not where our power is. Our power is in trusting ourselves to feel, to navigate the waves of life, not stop them. And through feeling comes healing, and our greatest healing, especially if you're struggling with depression, where you're resisting feeling whatever wave is coming in because you want to control it. As you allow yourself to feel and trust that it will flow out, you will begin to heal things that have been stuck, that have been trapped inside because you were unwilling to feel them, out of fear of not being happy, out of fear of feeling the emotions you do not want to feel. We build this trust and it builds our strength. And as I've been going through this week of sobbing and crying multiple times a day, the only way I have made it through without spiraling into hopelessness is because I know that happiness and joy will always flow back in, even if only for a minute each day. And as I allow the waves to flow and not try to stop them, I move through them with more ease and more self-trust and trust of life that this will not be forever, that there are other waves on their way that I can navigate the current waves. This is what trusting ourselves to feel is all about Trust yourself to navigate the waves, to ride the waves that come your way and trust that what will flow in will flow back out. And I will talk to y'all next week. Bye-bye.

Trusting Yourself to Feel
Trusting Ourselves to Navigate Life's Waves