So often when we experience a difficult emotion we hear: just feel it.

I mean, I work as an Embodiment Coach, I myself, say it to my clients all the time! And I give myself the very same advice also, because yes, it is true:

Feeling it is healing it.

But, there is a trap that many people miss.

When people speak of feeling it, they mean a very skillful way of feeling. That skill is something that can’t be really learned, at least not through the mind. It is something that emerges in us as a result of our experience and growing maturity.

That skill has much to do with kindness and compassion.

Often when people start getting into the business of healing and opening up and realizing there are emotions and physical sensations inside of them that they were previously not aware of, they get excited about feeling it all!

Ah, now I know what I have to do (says the mind), I just feel it and it goes away! Let’s get to business!

If only it was that easy.

The problem here is that it too often becomes just another strategy for the mind to control the experience and to protect itself from the very feeling it thinks it is feeling.

Being simply aware of the physical sensations and the experience we are having is only the first step of the equation.

The second one is to allow ourselves to be touched by them. And that…. is something we cannot make happen. We can’t force it.

It happens by grace.

It happens by us having run around in circles often enough to start catching on that despite all our effort, the feelings we are struggling with, are still there. And that we are still struggling with them.

Resistance can be very subtle indeed. We may think we are doing it right, but if there is no shift in our experience, then we are still in resistance. (Which by the way there is nothing wrong with either. It’s ok to be in resistance, it just might not be so pleasant, that’s all.)

So what do we do then?

The entry point to go deeper is to be really honest with yourself.

Are you suffering or not? Are you at ease with yourself or not?

(And here, we need to make it even more clear that suffering also means ‘being numb’. If you are not feeling connected to your heart, you are suffering even if you wouldn’t call it that.)

And the second step is to acknowledge all that you have tried already to bring yourself out of suffering.

That includes all your strategies: your meditations, visualizations, your mindfulness, your trying to feel it, your trying to scream it out, your writing and talking about it, or whatever it is that you do to help you shift a difficult state.

When you can just sit with the fact that you have tried hard, you gave your all, brought all your tools online, and it still hurts, then right there, there is an opportunity, a little crack in your minds’ ideas about what should happen and how it should feel like.

That little crack is the dawning of humbleness, which comes from acknowledging our limitations. When we get to the point of understanding that we are indeed oftentimes helpless to our experience, our heart starts softening towards this continuous struggle that we have been in.

Compassion begins to arise as we start feeling the pain that comes from our endless resistance to our direct experience.

(And we all are to some degree in resistance to what is. This is just how the mind works. So no point making yourself wrong for it.)

One cannot trick the process.

If it has happened to you, then you know that it was so different than what you imagined it to be. It cracked you wide open. And you were able to truly feel. Not just think that you are feeling. Actual energy started moving and you felt different.

And as it opened you, something in you shifted, because you surrendered your ideas and with that your struggle.

Something in you softened.

And that’s the third part of feeling yourself on a deeper level: softening.

We cannot push the heart to open.

We can only soften our grip and then soften some more. And when you thought you did so enough, soften even deeper. That’s when you start seeing how much you have actually been holding on. And hopefully understanding, that this process is not done overnight.

It’s a gradual practice. It’s the cultivation of a skill, one that you have most likely not been taught by your family, nor by school or society. Nor are you being encouraged by the majority of people to do so now.

So let yourself off the hook. Celebrate yourself for even trying. And remember one thing:

If your inner work doesn’t bring a gentle smile towards yourself, you are pushing too hard.

So smile a little more at the part that wants to get it all right. It’s an innocent part, it simply doesn’t know any better. All you can do is be kind to it.

Kasia Patzelt works as an Embodiment Coach and is passionate about integrating our spiritual experiences into the here and now of daily life aka how to be truly heart intelligent. She is a writer on Medium and works one-on-one with people online or on the magic island of Ibiza, where she lives.

Image courtesy of Cory Dupree.