You may ask…what exactly does it mean to “Serve Your Feelings”?
Welp…I’m no expert but here’s an abridged, personally curated version…It essentially means… Responding to an emotional trigger in a manner that only validates how you feel and what you think; not considering any other parties involved, potential consequences of your response, or room for acknowledgment of error.
This week, I found myself feeling unable to effectively do my job, for either of my jobs, feeling physically stressed, emotionally overwhelmed, angry, frustrated, and overall just in my feelings. I knew if I reported to work I would be unable to perform my job to respectable capacity if I wasn’t able or allowed to express how I felt, what it affected, or who should “fix it” and be held accountable. It wasn’t until I processed my feelings, that I was able to consider how my lack of presence may have affected others and facilitated the possibility for positive change on that particular day. I still feel like, for my emotional and physical safety, I made the right choice, but I can’t help but lament how I may have negatively affected some things too. Serving my feelings didn’t necessarily serve its purpose in this situation.
Okay now…full transparency…I am and have always been a “Serve my feelings” kinda girl.
If I feel it, I most likely say it, orrrr, I wear it on my face so clearly that I may as well say it. This goes for good and bad feelings, but mostly bad. If I’m happy about something it’s not always as obvious. LOL…there are times that on the inside I am beaming with full-on glee, and look like I’m having a regular ole’day.
But honeeeeey…If I don’t like something, feel emotionally accosted, see my family or friends doing something “stupid”, feel like someone is slacking off on what they should be doing in my opinion, or feel otherwise offended…IT IS KNOWN…intentionally or not. Selfishly, I tell myself that whatever is upsetting me needs to change, and whoever is doing it needs to change it. Completely ignoring that my interpretation of a slight or a trigger doesn’t validate that there actually is one. Also ignoring that my responses to that trigger may have eliminated the possibility for change to come about, because now I’ve offended who’s offended me. Unfortunately, there are more times than I’d like to remember that serving my feelings when it didn’t serve a positive purpose, did more harm than good. Long sentence short…Serving my feelings has not served me well.
Now…before you label me a self-centered monster…I must present a disclaimer. By default of my strong personality (I’m an Aries), the fact that I’m an older sister, and was often relied on to be the “responsible one” as a kid and now as an adult…I was kind of forced into a role of being the “spokesperson” for me and others. I’ve always been the friend to stick up for her friends, the staff to ask the boss for clarity when everyone else wanted it but didn’t want to ask, the family mediator, the sister to speak up to mom for my siblings when they were in trouble, and the significant other to call “BS” when some foolishness went down. In other words, I speak what I feel.
When you have a strong, fiery, and confrontational personality, often you’ll find that those around you don’t challenge you as much as they probably should, and it’s a handicap. I admittedly (uncomfortable transparency here) became comfortable and took pride in the fact that other’s around me heeded what I said, respected my input, even sought it out, and adjustments were made when I called things out. I told myself that I was doing the right thing, that what I said needed to be heard for the benefit of all involved. I chastised friends, family, co-workers, significant others, strangers,…you name it. And then life humbled me…REEEEEPEATEDLY.
After two abusive relationships (more on those another time), damaging a really essential friendship, growing more distant from some family members, all but demolishing my relationship with my mother, getting deeper into my faith, meeting some new friends not hesitant to call me on my ish, entering a relationship with a man who can gently but firmly call me on my ish, losing potential job and leadership opportunities due to perception of me, and some major self-reflection… I identified that the major changes that had to be made, were with me.
Accepting how full of myself I had been and come across as, how blinded I was by feeling like my feelings had to always be validated, hearing how my actions structured the perception of me to others, and hearing how my actions made others feel was TOUGH, to say the least. Self-reflection felt like self-infliction. All the change that I thought I was encouraging with my harsh words and reaction, was also changing how others felt about, felt toward and received me. I was now on the end of what I had unleashed so often, so freely… and it was brutal. Another awkward truth…the things I “called out” and change I tried to bring about was coming from a “good” place…but my delivery tinged with my feelings, ruined the messages so bad, that even if change came about, I didn’t realize at what cost. And I didn’t grow in the process.
Though I’ve grown, I’m still working on and still struggle with speaking my mind with intention not dressed as conviction, void of selfish emotion, and with growth of all parties involved, in mind. I’m more conscious of how I present my observations, suggestions, corrections, and reflections. I’m learning to self-assess why whatever the trigger is, “triggers” me in the first place and if it indicates change and growth needed in ME…not the recipient of my admonishments/suggestions (depending on who you ask *covers eyes*). I accept that my worldview isn’t universal and sometimes all the people in my world need is my ear, some reassurance, and maybe some suggestions instead of mandates.
I know that I am a work in progress, and progress is a process, but I also have to consistently remind myself that this applies to others as well. Self-reflection is the key to self-correction, self-direction, and self-acceptance. I will likely always “Serve my Feelings”, but can be more conscious of doing it in a way that assures that positive change can happen. I am less effective as a wife, friend, family member, educator, clinician, and change maker if I am not my true self, but I know that what I show is as important as what I know. If you find yourself being accused of any or all of the things in this post…do some reflection…ask yourself does your insight seem to hurt more than help? Encourage those that you may have upset to honestly tell you how your actions make them feel AND be open to the feedback. It may be a little uncomfortable but there is often discomfort in growth. Serving your feelings isn’t a bad thing…doing so and not considering others on the other hand…Well… let’s just say it’s probably not popular with the locals (your immediate circle). I don’t have all the answers…but I’m tryna shed a little light on my dark so we can all be a little better.