Peeling Oranges - Feeling Our Feelings

I remember I used to hate getting oranges in my lunch when I was little. Don't get me wrong, I love oranges (especially with a splash of lime and tequila). They were just so hard to peel. I'd either end up with a thick layer of the white stuff still left around my orange, or I'd have mutilated it to such an extent that it was hardly recognizable anymore. At some point, I can't remember when, I realized it was easier to cut the orange into quarters and just eat it directly off of the peel. After years of practicing and getting help from more "experienced peelers", I was able to perfect my peeling method. I unashamedly admit that I am quite a bit more introspective, retrospective and thoughtful than the average person. As I peeled my orange for my mid-morning snack this morning, I began to thing about my growth in the area of orange peeling... Isn't it funny how the things that seem so difficult at one point become simple, menial...things we do without thinking about them. Somehow, many of the lessons we have to learn in life are like peeling an orange. Whether it is navigating emotions, navigating relationships and job stress, marital issues...We often have to mutilate the orange once or twice before we figure out the perfect technique of getting all of the pith off the meat of the orange easily and with little mess. One of the greatest pleasures of my life has been helping my children learn to navigate their emotions, which can be tricky and messy…just like peeling oranges. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching them as little people learn to feel their feelings and not lose all control. A sick grandparent, the disappointment of no socialization during four months of quarantine, playground mates twisting their last name (Butler – it’s bound to happen) to make a joke at my kid’s expense are opportunities to teach them the skillful peeling of the orange.


One of the things that has been especially freeing is watching them have permission to feel whatever they actually feel. My experience was not that free. I was aware even at a young age of the cost of my feelings and learned early to keep them confined to the inside of my mind, where my internal management system skillfully avoided them. I watch with awe as my children learn the lessons that we all have to learn about friendship, independence, and self-confidence and I am mesmerized by the metamorphosis from novice peeler to intermediate peeler. They’re not experts, but I have visions of one day watching them skillfully navigate life’s most difficult “stuff” with confidence and ease. I often talk to my clients about the dissonance created by refusing to acknowledge the emotions that are inside of our bodies. If I am truly hurt, but do not allow myself to feel hurt – maybe I speed up my speech and start explaining or justifying the hurtful action, maybe I get angry and rage, maybe I just go to sleep…If I cannot take the time to feel the hurt, acknowledge the hurt, then that space between what is actually being felt in my body and what I am expressing creates this dissonance and can actually cause that emotion to get “stuck” in a way.

You can’t “ghost” your emotions. You have to acknowledge them and feel them. That doesn’t mean you have to swim in them or worse yet, drown in them.

Let's practice...

Just take a few moments. Close your eyes if you feel comfortable. Take a deep breath and feel. What do you feel? Where do you feel it in your body? What does it feel like?


Slow down. Can you feel the beating of your heart? Can you notice the rhythm of your breath?


Notice the feelings that come up. Notice all the different thoughts that come up with them. “This is silly.” “I don’t want to cry.” “I’m just too sensitive.”


Notice all the messages and ask your mind to quietly give the hurt (or other emotion you’re acknowledging) the space for just a few moments. If tears come, let them. Don’t try and fix or change.


Just feel.


Closing the space between what is real and what is felt and allowing them to be in the same space removes that tension and will discharge the energy created by that “negative” emotion so that you don’t have to fight it any longer.


To learn more about sitting with your emotions and discharging the energy they create in your body, join me in my Monday 7/20 webinar. See events on my page for more info!

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