When a person’s life situation suddenly changes radically, things can often become unstable. Moving to a new town, breaking up with a long-term partner, forming a new deep romantic relationship, moving out of a family member’s house, death of a loved one, loss of something important to you, or even finally achieving something important to you that you’ve sought for a long time … all of these things bring with them the destruction of old routines, and new feelings come and take their place.
And much of the time, these new feelings are weird and scary. Or they can be, like, totally radically awesome, too! If that’s the case, well, enjoy it! My only word of caution is to remember that such feelings are indeed temporary. Transitory. They won’t be sticking around. They’ll quickly get replaced by other feelings, and often switch back and forth and jolt you around a good deal.
We’ll often get into situations that we look back on with amazement: How did I get into that?? Sometimes we regret it, but sometimes we don’t. But for many people, especially those in search of some kind of balance or purpose in life, it can still be unsettling, to say the least, to look back on actions taken in the past and wonder “so, that was really me doing that, eh?”
Hindsight is always 20/20, the saying goes. You can always see clearly looking backward. So the key question here is how to best navigate this “primordial soup” of new feelings that comes with a big change – when that big change is actually happening.
You can’t avoid feelings. They’re gonna happen, just like when rain wants to fall from the sky. It’s gonna happen, like it or not. But when it does rain, or the weather turns sour, it always helps to be well prepared, doesn’t it? That’s the way it is with an overload of new feelings, as well.
The best way to start preparing for something is to get to know what you are prepared for. In terms of feelings, very often, the strong feelings that we have come upon us without us even knowing what they are, until we take a moment to pause and examine them. So, the best way to get to know your feelings is to talk about them, to call them out and examine them, and describe what they are like. Some people do this by writing in a journal; other people do this by turning to a friend that they know and trust and venting, or talking about the things that they are going through. Often when new feelings develop around another person, the best remedy, when it is possible, is to turn to that person and have a conversation with them about the feelings you are having. This often clears up a lot of things, and helps to give a sense of legitimacy to your feelings – that they matter to the other person. If that is not possible, still, find an outlet – it’s very healthy to do so. You know those people of whom it is said, they like to talk just to hear themselves talk? Truly, this is a therapeutic activity, to hear yourself dialog about the things that are affecting you, even if some people do it in a way that is annoying to others. Find the way that your are comfortable, and call out and give a name to what is frothing up on the inside.
I want to emphasize one thing; this applies just as much to overwhelmingly good new feelings as it does to bad feelings that overwhelm you. In fact, I could say that it is even more important to deal well with very strong feelings that overwhelm you in a good way, because when we feel bad, we tend to have an automatic reflex to deal with those feelings – whereas when we feel good, we tend to let things ride, and not prepare for the time when these really good feelings will inevitably give way to something else, often something disorienting, or even hurtful. When you are flying really high, any fall is potentially a sharp fall. It is very important to remember that, even as you enjoy for euphoria of a great moment.
There is always a balancing act with this kind of situation between keeping in touch with the feelings of the moment, which form a part of your reality, and keeping in touch with the greater, longer term reality. You must not ignore either side of the issue; they are both important. Good feelings should be enjoyed, and bad feelings are there for a reason, and must be listened to and felt. The more you are able to talk out the things that you are feeling, the easier it will be to situate these feelings in the context of your greater, longer term reality, as well as to notice the difference between the intense wants and desires and the things that you actually need, that are actually right for you. Anytime strong new feelings sweep over a person, whether positive or negative, it’s very often happens that the gap between wants and needs grows very large.
The reward at the end of the journey of examining and talking about one’s feelings comes when you realize you have the capacity necessary to make the most of your feelings, and go through the least amount of unnecessary suffering or restriction from joy. Once you more clearly understand your situation, and how your feelings fit into it, it becomes much easier to get what you were meant to get from such an experience. When your feelings are positive, you can enjoy them, knowing that they will not always be this way, and so appreciating them even more in the moment that you are having them. When they are negative, you can better understand the lessons that you are supposed to learn from the moment. It becomes a learning experience, one of those things that feels very unpleasant to go through, but that in the future you are thankful for because it has made you a better person.
Further reading: Life is a film, not a photograph.