Awareness that Heals

Developing Humility and Awareness to Recognize Your Greatest Challenges

Developing Humility and Awareness to Recognize Your Greatest Challenges - ATH BlogHow can becoming aware of your feelings help you? 

When you accept what you’re feeling and learn to identify your feelings (rather than rejecting or ignoring them), they can actually become guideposts to show you what you need. Today, let’s talk more about how developing a sense of humility and an awareness of your negative feelings can help you expand your quality of life. 

Look closely at your inner life, primarily focusing on where you have repeated suffering. Is it easy or hard for you to identify your emotional state? Do your best to identify it without judgment. Most of us tend to ignore or spend very little time with this recognition and understanding. However, when we recognize that these kinds of feelings are a distress call for us to be alert, we can become highly motivated to give it our complete attention. This, in turn, can help us recognize our greatest challenges and guide us through them.

These feelings are actually like red flashing lights, screaming out DISTURBANCE!! SO PLEASE PAY ATTENTION HERE!! You need something important (from yourself); it’s a plea asking you not to turn away from your needs. You need support you’re not receiving yet.

Instead of ignoring such feelings because of how uncomfortable or bad they make you feel, try saying/thinking: “I am going to train myself to move toward this feeling rather than away. I can find a much better way to take care of them when I look at them in depth instead of trying to run away or only partially understand them.”

Take a moment to ask yourself — How much do I tend to reject or ignore my most undesirable feelings? 

A common answer from most people is that they feel their feelings briefly (or sometimes even for a bit longer), but there’s no process to access what they need most to move toward healing.

If that’s your answer, are you motivated to break this pattern, feel your feelings as they are, and simultaneously ask what you most need to help take care of them? 

What would you say to yourself amid troubling times to remind yourself that what you feel isn’t the end of the story?

Can that inspire you to find your best source of intentional caring? 

It could be something like, “I really want to take care of myself when I’m suffering and in need. Nobody else is going to be able to see it as intimately as I am. I need to be the caregiver when I’m hurting in any significant way.”

For a more in-depth understanding of getting in touch with and accepting your feelings to tap into your wisdom and inquiry, please check out the free Introspective Guides and read Inquiry from the Heart and Moving From Feelings to Needs (Awareness That Heals, Chapters 5 & 7).

For most of us, this recognition and understanding of our feelings don’t come naturally. So here’s a simple yet poignant example that reveals the potential compounding effect of listening to our feelings and learning how to lean into our needs. Even if this feeling and situation aren’t one that you directly identify with, please substitute your feelings and needs to let them apply to you. 

Assume you are a parent caring for your kids, but you’ve suffered from anxiety since childhood. This has resulted in internal overreactions to common fears like illness, the dangers of going close to the street, and protection from people or dangerous-looking dogs in parks. In another way, you enforce routines and try to keep them as much as possible without room for change. 

You realize that it is a healthy protective instinct to want to protect and to feel anxious, but your anxiety adds to that healthy instinct and creates a similar form of anxiety and worry that’s slowly passed down to your kids. They’re showing signs of overreacting to fears in their life. Now, you are doubly motivated to find ways to take care of your needs to be more relaxed in your internal and external responses. 

With the advent of understanding and acceptance, your inner dialogue could be something like: “Hello, anxiety, I know you well even though I keep you mostly private in my experience. I recognize this is having a lifelong effect on me and, now, on my kids too. I can see that some of the needs I have (from seeing the list of needs) are to develop harmlessness, calm, gentleness, trust, and containment. I am going to talk about this openly with my partner, therapist, or close friend, depending on who the best guides are.”

As a next step, you continue to reassure yourself and accept your feelings and emotions by saying: 

I will stay committed to two questions/inquiries: 

  • How can I best access these calming qualities when it matters the most, especially when I’m triggered?
  • How can I bring this into my present life right when it matters the most?

You may say and think to yourself to help affirm:

This is of the utmost importance to my kids and me. I am going to bring this into conversations with those who can help, and when the kids are at an appropriate age, I will let them know that this is something that I am doing my best not to pass along to them. I will apologize for whatever areas I can’t control due to my conditioning and will let them know more about it in a timely way. I might even be able to express this with humor and humility. 

Most kids will get the joke as they have seen this extra added anxiety. This lightness helps eliminate blame and helps keep the focus on basic trust. Just coming up with a clear plan and a deeper, more sincere commitment makes me feel more hopeful and better about myself. So, I am going to get down to work for as long as it takes for everyone’s benefit. 

Did you resonate with any parts of this example? Are there feelings that affect not only you but also those around you — even when you don’t want them to? 

Ask yourself, “What area of my life am I most consumed with in a way that creates extra suffering? Can I balance my feelings and learn to take care of my needs to liberate both myself and my loved ones?”

It may be challenging to make the change to express your needs sensitively even though you have the insight. Often, this is because you are afraid that your needs won’t be met. It takes great awareness, honesty, humility, and courage to keep contemplating where this area is taking up too much of your inner or outer life, and you want to implore yourself to seek a greater balance and assertion. 

It is often helpful to seek allies (people you trust) by letting them know clearly about the challenge this presents to you, and you want them to be an advocate to explore how to find and express your needs and best take care of yourself. Each of us is inevitably going to have at least one challenging area to explore. 

What is yours, and how motivated are you to move toward balance?

Read more about how your challenging feelings can be a guidepost to your needs here.