You ever get in bad mood and not know why?

(I know this sounds like a pharmaceutical ad, but bear with me… )

Like maybe you wake up and feel pissed off before you even get outta bed (“Did I have a bad dream or what??“) Or you’re hangin with a group of friends and feel totally numb and disengaged (“Where the hell did this come from?” “Why can’t I just enjoy myself?“)

This used to happen to me a lot, actually, especially in my early-mid 20s. Like on a Saturday, for instance, I’d be getting ready for a “fun” night out with friends. While I could always manage to put a smile on my face, inside I felt some degree of emptiness. Or felt nothing. Or didn’t know what I was feeling. I just knew it wasn’t what I “should” have been feeling in those moments.

It was frustrating and disorienting. If you’ve had experiences like this, you know what I mean.

But it was also an opportunity (as most uncomfortable/painful situation are!) to understand myself more fully. Through years of personal reading and reflection, and work with coaches and therapists, I came to a couple important realizations I wanna share tonight:

1) We rarely feel “off” for no reason. And if we’re feeling “off” and don’t know why, it’s likely because, to some degree, we’ve cut ourselves off from our feelings/our truth (which may or may not be related to the present situation).

2) Why would we do that? Well first of all, it’s not always something we do consciously. And second of all, because there’s about a million seemingly good reasons to cut ourselves off from our true feelings.


If I feel the pain of losing him,
maybe i’ll never stop crying,
or never get out of bed,
or never believe in love again.
so I’m not going to feel that right now.

If I feel hurt by what she said,
people might think I’m too dramatic,
or too emotional.
so I’m not going to feel that right now.

If I feel anger at my mom,
or resentment towards my baby,
maybe I’m defective. Or a bad person.
so I’m not going to feel any of that right now.

If I admit to feeling smothered and exhausted by my 9-5,
then I might have to quit,
and I might lose all sense of stability,
so I’m not going to feel that right now.

If I admit to feeling unfulfilled going to bars with friends,
then I’ll have nothing in common with those friends,
and I might have to spend Saturday night alone.
so I’m not going to feel that right now.

Seeing the theme here?

3) Avoiding or denying our true feelings (aka repression), is the way we (often automatically and unconsciously) manage stuff that seems too overwhelming at the time. Thank God for it, right? Sometimes it’s necessary to get through the day (especially if you’ve had some serious trauma).

4) However, it’s not a habit we want to get comfy with… cuz’ if we do, we quickly begin to lose ourselves. Literally we separate from ourselves, our truth, and start experiencing those kinds of displaced and disorienting feelings I mentioned earlier (why am I feeling this way? what am I even feeling? where is this coming from?)

5) Unacknowledged feelings also lead to a lack of energy and enthusiasm. Know why? Cuz’ feelings are a source of energy. When we’re in touch with them, we feel alive. When we’re out of touch, we feel exhausted and depressed.

Feeling our feelings might sound like a pretty basic concept. But the reality is, it’s not, for many people. We don’t learn emotional literacy in school. Lots of us don’t learn it from our families either. Oh, and our culture certainly doesn’t promote it.

So, for many of us, it’s not til after many years of unease with ourselves and/or lots of stumbling in relationships, that we realize its importance and begin to teach it to ourselves, or to seek out guidance from a coach or therapist.

If this is resonating with you, I’ve got a simple exercise for you (below). And as a heads up, I’ll also soon be opening up applications for my upcoming group program, when we’ll dive into this stuff much more deeply.

The TRUTH IS… [a written exercise]

Shakespeare knew it (“This above all; to thine own self be true“), my grandma knew it (“Lying to yourself will make you sick“) and now you know it.

Use this exercise when you’re feeling “off” but don’t know why.
Use this exercise to find your truth.

This exercise will help you back track through the maze of your emotions to find the starting point. It’ll help you find the root of your discomfort, so you can acknowledge it, face it, and perhaps do something about it. (Note: even if you don’t get to the point of doing anything about it, simply receiving your truth can cause an immediate shift and a significant level of healing).

Completing the exercise is straight forward. In a moment you’re feeling “off” (numb, disengaged, tense, pissed, etc.) take out a sheet of paper and write “the truth is… ” and then free write for as long as you’d like. If you find yourself getting stuck or drawing a blank, it can be helpful to write “the truth is…” again and again, to cut through superficial thoughts and feelings and elicit an honest message from your heart.

Pretty simple, right? I swear by this exercise and would absolutely love to know how it goes for you.