My Favorite Things: Embracing ALL of your Feelings

Carolyn Dixon, MSW, LCSW shares her favorite sayings and counseling interventions to help you live a more abundant life in her series entitled, “My Favorite Things.” Read on to learn more about Carolyn and to hear how she embraces all feelings—rage, jealousy, and the like—on the path toward better self-understanding and personal growth. 
One of “My Favorite Things” is this saying: “ALL my feelings are ok.”

Do you believe this? Is it ok to feel enraged? Jealous? Unimportant? Unloved? Think back to when you were a kid, and your group of friends was picking teams for kickball. Imagine you were picked last. Couldn’t that lead you to feel unimportant and unloved? YES!! Absolutely.

All your feelings are ok: that’s the point. It’s okay to feel unimportant or unloved, but it is important to express those feelings and take responsibility for them. It is how you handle your feelings that could cause you a problem. For example, if you are enraged and key someone’s car, it could cause you a problem. If you are jealous and steal something, it could cause you a problem. Do you see the pattern? ALL of your feelings are ok. It’s just how you handle your feelings that may cause you a problem.

Many people have a love/hate relationship with emotions and feelings. Some see them as a sign of “weakness,” or they feel that, at their most emotional, they are being “needy” and “manipulative.” To them, emotions feel dangerous or foreign. Others can feel overwhelmed by their emotions—like they are out of control. I see emotions as a path to vulnerability and connection.
As a counselor, I believe in the power of INTIMACY (into-me-you-see), which involves identifying and labeling your emotions as a way to self-regulate your nervous system but also as a way to connect with others. I have a rubber band ball in my office as an illustration that in our brain, our emotions can become all twisted up. If we want to better manage our emotions (navigating feelings of having too much emotion or too little), we have to be willing to pull off each rubber band and identify its feeling.

You are wired for connection with SAFE people. I often think that people who avoid emotionality--associating emotions with weakness—must fall into that camp because they haven’t had safe people in their life with whom they can CONNECT, and eventually, build trust. They have become self-reliant.

In my personal journey of vulnerability, I had to get over a hurdle: believing that if you really knew me, you wouldn’t like me. Eventually, through my own counseling, I learned to share vulnerably and to trust people outside my counselor’s office (including my spouse, my friends). It has been such a freeing place to be known (not just for what I do, but for who I am) and to be accepted in this place (not just for my good choices and my strengths, but also for my bad choices, fears, and weaknesses). It is in that place of true acceptance that I feel loved.

I hope that you are able to find a safe place where you can identify and share your feelings! A counselor’s office is a great place to start.

Take care,
Carolyn Dixon has been with ALCS since 2004 and counsels clients from our North Austin location. She is trained to counsel individuals, couples, and families with a range of issues including anxiety, loneliness, anger, grief and loss, parenting and family challenges, premarital and marital issues, and divorce recovery. Carolyn has a passion for strengthening marriages and is certified in Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), an intervention that is based on scientific study of adult love and bonding processes in couples. For more information about Carolyn's practice or to set up an appointment with Carolyn or another ALCS counselor, contact us today!
Further Resources:
ALL of My Feelings are Okay handout, created by The Great Commandment Network, used with permission.