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How do I feel? I have learned that this is a phrase we usually never ask ourselves; as a habit we ask others how they are but we forget to check with our own emotions.
I came to the conclusion that if we did that often, we probably wouldn’t experience half of the issues that trouble our lives on a daily basis, and I tell you why; take work as an example, many people dread their jobs and they call in sick often, they literally hate waking up every morning. If you asked yourself "how do I feel?" You might probably get a reply like so:
I feel frustrated because I haven’t got enough time to even have breakfast before going to work; I feel completely dis-empowered by the fact that no matter how passionate and dedicated I am, my boss doesn’t trust me when it comes to making decisions; I feel vulnerable being in such aggressive and competitive office environment, and powerless whenever I hear people gossiping about other colleagues; every single Sunday evening I get a stomach ache thinking that I have to go to work the day after.
If we talked about food, our reply could sound something like this: I always feel bloated after having a croissant and a coffee, I wonder if this is normal or I could be allergic to wheat or dairy.
When it comes to relationships we would maybe reply: I feel angry that I don’t get my emotional needs met, I don't think I'm special to my partner anymore since he's too busy with work to pay me enough attention. I know that if I say anything he could get upset and I'm afraid he will leave me, so it's better to keep quiet.
Family might sound like this: I feel disrespected when I’m with my siblings; I feel my decisions and life are under constant scrutiny, like I can’t be trusted to make decisions on my own, because I’m still considered a child; I hate that I can’t be myself around them, and it’s hard to face non-stop criticism from the people that is supposed to love and support you no matter what.
Now after knowing all of the above, wouldn't it make sense to think that people who had never stopped to check how they felt, might as well be perfect candidates for a future breakdown such as unexpected illness, break-up, redundancy or the so called "middle-life crisis".
I know by experience that sometimes to consciously see what is really going on in our lives can be utterly terrifying, as a lot of us know that if we opened that lid all hell could unleash. So it seems easier to numb ourselves with alcohol, junk food, sex, social media, work, etc.
It takes a lot of courage to take that first step, since the truth could also bring unresolved guilt, shame, anger and emotions that you didn't even know you had; however, after having gone through this experience myself (truth to be told, not the easiest one) I guarantee that it is worth the try.
Experiencing that temporary emotional discomfort could be the key to your freedom and happiness, and possibly better than living in your familiar cage, a cage where you have gradually taught yourself to keep silenced, small and invisible.
So would you finally give yourself permission to bravely ask how you feel? would you be willing to listen to whatever answer comes out with kindness, compassion and no judgement? At the end of the day it might not be that bad, and who knows, it could even change your life.
What I can honestly tell you is that taking that first step to see the "my ugly truth" definitely transformed mine in miraculous ways.