Home » Happiness Tip: Let Yourself Feel What You Feel


Happiness Tip: Let Yourself Feel What You Feel

We are living in an age of anxiety, and when we feel stressed out (or sad, or disappointed, for that matter) our world offers us a host of ways to NUMB those negative feelings, to not really feel them.

For example, we can spend hours on Facebook avoiding our feelings. Or we can eat the whole pan of brownies. Personally, I tend towards numbing my worries and other unpleasant feelings by staying very, very busy.

The problem is that when we numb unpleasant feelings, we numb everything that we are feeling. So to honestly feel the positive things in life — to truly feel love, or joy, or profound gratitude — we must also let ourselves feel fear, and grief, and frustration.

If you are feeling anxious or excited or proud, let yourself FEEL that emotion. Where in your body does it live? Is it in the pit of your stomach? In your throat? What, really, does it feel like? Does it have a shape, or a texture, or a color?

If we want to be happy, we need to practice feeling, to practice listening to our heart Click To Tweet

Even though it can be scary to expose ourselves to our strongest emotions, neuroscientist Jill Bolte Taylor teaches us that most emotions don’t last longer than 90 seconds. What you’ll probably find is that if you can sit still with a strong emotion and let yourself feel it, even the worst emotional pain rises, crests, breaks, and recedes like a wave on the surf.

And after these emotions pass, we’ve usually gained something by experiencing them. Your emotions are how your heart talks to you, how it tells you what choices to make.

As Omid Kordestani, a senior advisor to Google, reminds us, “In life you make the small decisions with your head and the big decisions with your heart.” If we want to be happy, we need to practice feeling, to practice listening to our heart. This is the way to know who we are and what we want.

Take Action: What feeling have you been distracting yourself from lately? Take 90 seconds right now to just feel it.

Join the Discussion: How do you numb your emotions? Inspire others by leaving a comment below.



  1. Arvind says:

    Thank you Christine! I have just discovered yesterday that I am extensively worried to make my mom happy INSTEAD of feeling sad that my mom’s health is declining ….

    • dlp333 says:

      Considering how to make her happy is productive and pro-active. When, someday, she is gone, you won’t regret that you were mindful and did your best to make her time here enjoyable.Worrying about her health does not change her health. I was mindful of my dad and granddad’s happiness, and I am so glad for it. Peace to you and mom.

  2. Jessica Rodgers says:

    I used to numb my emotions by drinking, then it was working out excessively, then it was stuffing my face. Now, it’s looking at Pinterest for hours and putting things on credit. I do this to numb my feelings of worry and doubt. I worry about getting by and about the future. I doubt that I am worthy of success and love. Even writing this I’m thinking, ‘Why am I even writing this. No one cares about what I have to say, especially if I’m blabbing about myself.’

    I will say, I’ve come a long way from depression and everyday is a journey to making life brighter. I have faith that the universe is taking care of me, but some days I forget that.

    I really enjoyed this article. Reading, “neuroscientist Jill Bolte Taylor teaches us that most emotions don’t last longer than 90 seconds,” definitely makes staying with the emotion seem bearable. Then, you reap the benefit of your heart talking to you. That’s beautiful. Thank you, Dr. Christine Carter, for this article.

    • dlp333 says:

      Jessica, that putting things on credit one is a common but self destructive one. When i think of all the crap I have bought that I don’t even use…Uggh. I feel better when I pull the happiness out of myself by volunteering, hugging someone, or seeking out friendship. And I know I won’t have to pay it back later.
      I do care what you think. Thanks for blathering 😉 Wishing you peace, and contentment, within yourself. hugs, d

    • Celena Collins says:

      Hi Jessica, my inner critic says the same thing! So to honor how that feels, notice it, and then act in a way that would actually serve myself and others, I am here to say I know that what you, or I have to say about ourselves DOES matter! Thanks for sharing.

  3. TMA says:

    I distract myself. I work more, work out. Sometimes I talk to friends so much that I fear I’ll burn them out with my whiny stories. I’m getting sick of hearing them myself! I’ve been crying every 2 hours for over a week. I’m trying to just cry, feel it, and cry more. It’s exhausting but at least I feel it.

    • dlp333 says:

      Been there. I’m sending you good thoughts. I hope that whatever it is that grieves you comes to resolution and you can find closure and peace soon. Namaste.

  4. Donne Davis says:

    I wouldn’t call it numbing – more like a pleasant distraction. I call my 2 granddaughters and we role play scenarios on the phone. Right now they’re my balm for the grief I’m feeling. My best friend of 61 years died last week. So when I need a lift of spirits, I call them and I feel better.

  5. peg says:

    Jessica, you are aware and as Christine says – people do value your thoughts and share similar but not identical feelings and struggles- I like the 90 second reminder- this too will pass or at least reduce in intensity-

  6. Kayla Paredes says:

    I am so used to numbing my feelings that EVERYTHING is numb. I can’t feel anything. Before I would do the opposite of what my feeling “said” to do. And that kind of balanced it out I guess… I need help. I want to feel something again.

    • Celena Collins says:

      Hello Kayla, I noticed your post and my heart goes out to you! Has anyone approached you about helping you to “feel something again”? I would love to talk more about it with you.

  7. Danny says:

    I numb my emotions by trying to do “the right thing” in a given situation or act the way other people expect me to. I have this impression that I should react quickly to all situations, I don’t give myself time to really understand what is going on. I tend to act like this because I fear rejection very much and I do everything I can not to break connection with other people, but by doing this, I break connection with myself.

    I’ve been trying to feel what I feel for some time (even made it my new habit in your 90 day program, Christine 🙂 but I found myself kind of “marinating” in my emotions and not knowing what to do about them.

    I am glad to know that it’s okay to let them go after 90 seconds. I thought I was repressing them and usually found myself trying to bring them back, and ended up spending a lot of time on this and not doing other important things to get life going (I have 3 kids).

    So I am really grateful for that article! I will integrate this new notion, about the 90 seconds, in my habit. I will try to feel the emotion for some time and when I feel it subside, I will try to understand what this emotion tells me about myself… Thank you so much!! 🙂

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