Take a Moment to Reflect When You Get "The Feels"

Three weeks ago I started a new summer job at my university working in an office that focuses on enriching each student experience through various involvement opportunities. In my short time here, I’ve had unexpected moments of being hit right in the feels.

“Pardon me, did you say ‘the feels’?”

Yes! The feels are experienced as moments where you feel a flood of emotion, through your mind and body, that impacts you in some meaningful way. This emotional flood can usually be categorized as being in the realm of sadness, joy, awe, or some tangent of those. For example, you might get the feels when you see an elderly couple holding hands as they walk down the street together, or perhaps when you hear about the passing of a friend’s beloved pet. Those kind of events just get you right in the feels. They might be small moments that only you feel, or they could be big events that are experienced by many but that have impacted you in a unique way.

When you’re feeling those feels, it’s probably because something has resonated with you in a meaningful way, and I think you need to take a moment to reflect on it. Reflecting on these moments might give you some insight into what your passions are, what your talents are, or where you want to take your next step towards. To reflect on the feels you have experienced and to help uncover their meaning, ask yourself a few questions.

What?
What was it that provoked the feels? What happened RIGHT before you were hit right in the feels? Was there a particular aspect of the event/person/sound/etc. that provoked it, or was it the experience as a whole? Is it the thing you are acting upon (doing), or are you being acted upon (receiving)?

How?
How did the feels get you? Did they get you in a sad way, or in a way that made you feel more alive than you ever have before? How are you experiencing the feels (i.e., how do you feel)? How did the feels manage to slip into your experience at this moment?

When?
Did a particular time of day play any part in what is happening? Are you feeling the way you do because it is before dawn breaks, or is it right at noon and the rain is falling and the skies are dark? Is this particular moment one that has come at an opportune or especially relevant time in your life?

Who?
Has a person evoked the feels in you? Or is it a particular aspect of who YOU are that is being impacted by what is happening? Could these feels be coming from the part of you that you’ve never had the chance to really engage with before? Who are you in the moment that these feels got to you?

Where?
Similar to the “when”, the where may point you to what is dictating these particular feels. Where are you as the feels hit you – are you sitting down? Standing up? Are you indoors or outdoors? Are your feet on the ground? Do you find yourself in a particular building/city/country/urban/rural/uninhabited place?

Why?
Oh yes, the why. Why are you experiencing the feels right now, in this place, in this way, as you are? Why did this instance strike a chord in you that felt different than all of the other chords that have been struck across your lifetime?  There have been many meaningful moments for you, but why is this one standing out to you? Is it what you are doing? Are you receiving some sort of news or information? Is this moment an unexpected opportunity that is terrifying but thrilling all at once? Why do you care about this moment and why are you trying to decipher it?

Sometimes these moments come up in mundane situations that do not speak to a greater purpose, but sometimes the feels get you in a way that seem to indicate you have uncovered something significant. It could be the direction you want to work in your career, or the place you want to move to, or the unplanned trip you want to take. The feels could even point you towards a new hobby.

Embrace planned happenstance, a term that refers to being prepared to be adaptable and flexible in an unpredictable world that might throw you a curve ball (that might be worth catching). Planned happenstance means doing all you can to prepare yourself for whatever your goal might be, but being ready to roll with the punches when those random events that are beyond your control inevitably occur.

Don’t just let the feels get away from you – if you stop to consider them for even a moment, they must mean something. They may indicate something as small as a practice you can engage in each day to bring you peace of mind, or they could be guiding you towards the best thing you can’t even imagine yet.

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