I have been thinking a lot about feelings lately. Social media inundates everyone with demands to think positively, to be happy, and to not wallow in negative feelings.

The double dose of holiday cheer, followed by New Year’s resolutions to think positively, can make you wonder what is wrong with you and you can feel like a failure for not living up to societal expectations.

Dealing with a loss, whether the loss of a loved one or adjusting to the repercussions of a life-changing event, can put more pressure on you and compound the feelings of failure.

While I like to feel happy as much as the next person, I know that it impossible for me to feel true happiness and joy without feeling sadness and pain too. When we try to be happy without feeling the full emotional spectrum happiness can feel forced and untrue maybe even making us feel like a fraud. This confliction can further the sense of failure since the world places a high stake on happiness and feeling good.

Why do we shy away from feelings that are labeled as negative? Feelings are neither “good” nor “bad”.

All feelings just want to be met.

Negative emotions that get a bad rap may feel bigger and more overwhelming than the so called good feelings. Let’s face it, when we feel sad or in pain we often do not know what to do, we do not know how to feel these feelings. In a world that values feeling good and shiny happy people, we are not taught how to be with uncomfortable feelings let alone embracing them and allowing them to be felt completely.

Michael Brown, author of The Presence Process says, “It’s not about feeling better, it’s about getting better at feeling.” I love this quote. He is telling us that the way to authentic happiness is by feeling all our emotions; “good” or “bad”. I learned this for myself through my own grief journey.

I did not expect this to happen. So, how did I learn it? Simply by allowing myself to feel whatever I was feeling. Intolerable feelings are not limited to those grieving a loss. We all avoid uncomfortable feelings.

These unbearable feelings often feel too big for us to face; they feel overwhelming. But all feelings want to be met and seen. You will find that when you allow yourself to feel a difficult feeling in your heart its immensity it will shift and begin to calm down. It needed to be bigger than it is so it could get your attention. When you meet your feelings in your heart, you begin to feel safe. The safer you feel, the longer you will be able to engage your feeling.

The practice of Samyama is one way to begin to bring your feelings to your heart.

Samyama offers a safe place for all your feelings to be held. In your heart you are able to let your feelings out one at a time so they will not gang up on you and make you feel consumed by grief or devastation. You begin to trust your heart, the process, and your feelings. You relax. Relaxation allows you open the door to your heart even wider and begin to feel amazement, wonder, gratitude, peace, and yes, even happiness.