There will always be a reason to deprioritize ourselves if we aren’t careful. It’s up to us to set the tone for the world to follow. This wasn’t always my way of thinking. In fact, six years ago I almost let an ex talk me out of saving my life.
One night I woke up unable to breathe. My boyfriend at the time told me I was over reacting, and while I knew that wasn’t true, it was enough to deter me from going to the emergency room. Fortunately, I was wise enough to see my doctor days later when an x-ray revealed two spots in my lungs.
As the story goes, they discovered two blood clots- one in each lung. My right lung was damaged as a result, and I was immediately put on medication to consume daily for the next six months including giving myself shots for the first week. Aside from the night I woke up unable to breathe, I had no real symptoms, but I felt something was off and looking into it was a matter of life and death.
“Being a healthy woman isn’t about getting on a scale or measuring our waistline. We need to start focusing on what matters most- how we feel, and how we feel about ourselves.
Embracing the words of our former first lady, I have learned to be much more in tune with my feelings. Feelings are guides that offer information about how various factors are impacting us. While it may not always be life and death literally, our ability to acknowledge our feelings very much impacts how fruitfully we live. Here are three ways I’ve learned to respond to my feelings.
Acknowledge, don’t ignore.
Last December, I was extremely hurt after a fatal shooting took the life of a former student. Yet, because my calendar was full of meetings and events, I tried suppressing my emotions. I ignored my need to release until I found myself ill and uncontrollably mourning.
When I finally had no choice but to sit still and nurse myself back to health, the world adjusted. Plans were made without me needing to be at the center, and people (some happily and others reluctantly) found ways to navigate my absence. I wasn’t okay and trudging through as if all was well was costly. We must acknowledge our emotions because it’s our duty to prioritize our needs.
Ask the right questions.
A few months ago, I found myself over-sleeping for work and waking up with anxiety. One morning I had to physically place my hand on my heart to calm my heavy breathing. I thought something was wrong with me, but my therapist pushed my thinking. Instead of wondering, “What is wrong?” I should have been asking, “What is this telling me?”
My sleeping and anxiety were physical manifestations of my feelings toward my job. My passion for the work was dwindling and going in was a burden. In that moment, nothing was wrong with me; my body was forcing me to address a lingering feeling so I could make an adjustment. When we take the time to acknowledge our feelings, we make room to learn from them.
The biggest moves in my life came from a feeling. Anger led to me buying a house, inspiration pushed me to write a book, and feeling overwhelmed caused me to backpack Europe. In these moments, no one could deter me.
When we acknowledge our feelings and figure out what they’re saying, we have an obligation to act on them. Sometimes action requires a conversation other times it could be taking a leap of faith. Regardless of reasons for disapproval, we have to listen to the voice inside of us.
If I didn’t listen to my body or how I felt six years ago, I may very well not be here today. So, in honor of Blood Clot Awareness Month, and my own testimony, let’s be sure to take action on how we’re feeling.