How to Feel More
Sometimes we feel nothing. We can find ourselves in situations that others find quite emotional but we feel unaffected. Sometimes we can wonder what all the fuss is about. At other times it worries us, and we think ourselves hard and cold because we don't feel what others do or our feelings are less strong. In these situations, it can help to know how to feel more. First some thoughts, then a technique.
Only if you want to
First up, I don't have an agenda to make you feel more. There are plenty of times when feeling less is the most appropriate response, and for them I have written a companion piece How to Feel Less. Here we're talking about situations where you want to feel more.
You can't pick and choose
Visualising a volume dial can help us understand what's going on. One of the difficulties with emotions is that there isn't a way to ‘dial up' positive emotions and simultaneously ‘dial down' negative emotions – there is only one ‘control' that affects both of them and to some extent it is within our control. This gives us our first clue – is our difficulty in feeling some sort of automatic and long ingrained response to our inability to cope with what we feel?
Choose your environment
To feel more, try to put yourself in situations where you are likely to feel more emotions. Some people find positive feelings in sporting events or social occasions; for others, it will be going to the movies or watching TV. For other people, doing things that bring on sadness and regret – like walks in winter – gives us something easier to connect to than happiness.
Accept what comes
The first thing to remember about feelings is that they reflect a genuine inner state, so accept what comes. In doing this, try not to expect too much – if you start to feel more, it is likely to be subtle. Secondly, try to not to put yourself in situations where you are likely to get too overstimulated – all this is going to do is to give your defences more reason to engage.
Movement and expression
It's important to realise that emotion is strongly connected with movement and expression – more movement and expression means we feel more; less movement and expression means we feel less. In this technique we consciously do the opposite to the things that all of us do automatically to restrict feeling, and we do them consciously and with more intensity.
How to feel more
If you're ready to try to feel more, he's a process you can use to start to open yourself up;
- Remember: open.
- Open your mouth slightly
- Make sure your top teeth aren't in contact with your bottom teeth. Let your jaw relax
- Take deliberately deeper breaths into your diaphragm
- Open your hands and let them go limp
- Drop your shoulders
- Loosen your brow and widen your eyes
- Move your body
Doing this may not feel comfortable, so notice your tendency to tighten up. If it gets too much tighten up again. It's your choice to feel more or less. By knowing how to do both, you give yourself more flexibility.
Let me know what you think in the comments.
– Tim Hill