I remember the moment of my awakening.

Maybe you’ve heard the story – 25th birthday, Godiva peanut butter cups, almond bubble bath, beeswax candles, tears, drugs – a night laced with many lessons, including this one.

I finally stopped telling myself how I should be feeling and let myself feel what I was actually feeling.

I was supposed to be feeling happy because I had everything I was supposed to have – a career in a field I loved, a big beautiful house, a kind partner, a golden retriever, a couple of degrees. The truth is, I was miserable. But misery is the wrong emotion for a woman who has everything she is supposed to have. Right?

Just because a great career, a lovely house, a kind partner, a loyal dog, and a stack of credentials is right for some people, doesn’t mean it was right for me.

I was deceiving myself; my attempts at self-love were coming through as self-abuse. I kept trying to jam myself into boxes of expectations. It was tight and hard to breathe in there. It hurt. To numb the pain my mind turned to depression, distraction, and addiction.

Something about that blessed night cracked me open to my true feelings, here’s what I learned.

Your feelings are your guide. They are always communicating something meaningful to you. Your work is to tune in and translate their meaning.

We are not computers operating on the same system. We are artists and our lives are our unique masterpieces. Could you imagine if every single masterpiece looked the same? Replication works for computing, but it has no business in art of your life.

We are a kaleidoscope of complex, intricate, unique, and changing designs. Our true feelings are our medium, not the feelings we’re supposed to have, the feelings we expect ourselves to have, or the numbed out fragments of feelings we try to not have.

Our true feelings.

The trick is to let yourself feel what you’re feeling and then bravely and honestly explore and discover what needs to be healed, created, released, accepted, forgiven, embraced, or expressed.

Your feelings are not wrong, no matter how out of bounds they are.

It’s okay to feel grief when you get married, fear when you become a parent, dread when you get the promotion or joy when someone dies. It’s okay to feel excitement when you get married, love when you become a parent, proud when you get the promotion or loss when someone dies.

It’s okay to be obsessively festive about a holiday or hate it; to feel guilt about an abortion or ambivalence; to feel devastated by your divorce or relieved; to feel elation or grief when your nest empties; to feel fired up about a social crisis or unaffected.

Doubting yourself, shaming your struggle, denying what’s real, numbing what’s right, and stuffing what’s ‘not normal’ causes all kinds of suffering – trauma, addiction, depression, anxiety, self-loathing, insecurity and self-sabotage.

Feel what you’re feeling – not what you’re supposed to feel, what the neighbour expects you to feel, what the industry tells you to feel – what you actually feel.

Explore the source of your emotions, because sometimes the origins are hidden in the shadows, and then stand in your truth, which is ultimately your integrity, which is the most predictable path into the life you love.