Listen to Your Life!

151466460_c7d69a997aI had an interesting conversation with one of my friends who recently enjoyed a week-long Spring Break.  When I asked about how she was doing, she described experiencing a sense of dread just before she went back to work. 

She said she fought through her emotions by telling herself that in this economy, she should be grateful to even have a job.  Furthermore, she told me that she was behind on grading her exams, but told herself that by putting them off to the last minute, she was able to quickly “jump back into the swing of things.”  

After she finished, I belted out, ”That’s bull!”   


“Yes!  That’s bull.”  You know—the stuff we try to avoid when we attend the Texas Livestock Show and Rodeo!

See, I have known my friend for nearly thirty years.  True to her early days as our High School Cheerleading Captain, she remains one of the most positive, fun-loving, and energetic educators I know!  She loves learning, teaching, and sharing with others—she loves her work!

“I just think your sense of dread was an unconscious message that you put off grading.”

“I don’t know.” 

“Think about it.  If you were all caught up and didn’t procrastinate, you would have been energized and happy to return to class—as you usually are.”

“Well, maybe you’re right.   Now that I think about it, I didn’t feel this way before Spring Break and my negative feelings began to leave once I started grading the exams.”

I could certainly relate to my friend.  After all, I recently woke up with a similar sense of dread.   But before attempting to bridle my feelings and force the negative ones to be subdued by the positive, I asked, “What is this feeling trying to say to me?” 

I had a number of things to do and realized that my sense of overwhelm was an indication that something on my agenda was misaligned.   I quickly listed my responsibilities.  Then, I shifted, focused on my chief priorities and sketched a plan of attack.  Like my friend, my disturbing emotions subsided as I began to work on the things that were most important.  In place of dread was a sense of peace—an internal signal that I was back on track.  The next day, I woke up feeling rested and excited about beginning a new day!

Take a moment to assess your feelings.  Do you feel confused, sad, anxious, or angry or do you feel energized, peaceful, and full of life?  Before you overlook, dismiss or even try to control your emotions ask yourself,  “What are my feelings trying to tell me today?”

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6 responses to “Listen to Your Life!

  1. Martha Sutton

    This is really interesting, Carolyn. I’ll come back to it again because I need to read it more than once.

  2. Very insightful post. I find myself mentally hiding out and avoiding the things I’m not in a place to deal with. Of course it’s always best to face those responsibilities head-on and your blog reminded me of that. Great job.

  3. drcarolynmiller

    Thanks, Martha!

    Sharon, I understand all too well. My typical M.O. is to dismiss negative emotions, but I finally realized that both negative and positive emotions have purposes–one of which is to illuminate and give insight to things we are going through that we may not be conscious of. Focusing on why we feel the way we do will help to bring awareness to things we typically overlook. Thanks for your comment!

  4. This is great. Ever since I read Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink, I’ve tried to listen to my feelings, using them as messages for what’s wrong and right in my life. Feelings are always valid, and when we allow ourselves to listen to them, they shine the light down the path we need to go. Great story!

  5. When I was coaching, I always found this a difficult distinction for people to make. The idea that we need to “feel” emotions, yet move past them (and in fact, for most of us, it’s only in the “feeling” that we CAN move past them), can be hard to grasp and even more difficult to put into practice. Great reminder.

  6. Kara

    Wow..and again. I read what you write and it speaks to me like you have written TO me!!!!

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