It's that dreaded 'F' word. . .no not the fun one, the one no one ever wants to talk about. . .feelings. I've had a lot of conversations with people lately about the not so fun feelings, anger, fear, sadness, resentment and the overwhelming theme is that we've become far to accustomed to not feeling. We've learned that it's easier to pop a few pills, have an adult beverage or make ourselves so busy that we don't have time to think than it is to actually sit with our emotions and allow ourselves to be uncomfortable for a bit. Anger is uncomfortable. Sadness is incredibly uncomfortable but how do we learn to cope with these types of things if we never allow ourselves to actually feel them. At some point these feelings will manifest themselves and often that comes in the form of depression or anxiety. Unfortunately we are a society of easy. We are scared of dealing with the hard which includes the not so great emotions and often having the difficult conversations with other people. We think it's easier to ignore what needs to be said or done and continue on hoping things will go away or solve themselves. I assure you, more often than not, things don't go away and they don't solve themselves. If you want to live a life of authenticity and find true joy, you need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. You need be ok with working through your emotions and you need to learn to have the conversations you don't want to have. We can't keep bottling up and trying to suppress the negative. Our society has a huge mental health problem and I truly believe this is part of it. We would rather not feel our own emotions which makes us completely unable to empathize with others. We'd rather pop pills and get drunk each night than actually face the things that scare us. Unfortunately so many people I know are so far past the point of being "real". . .real with themselves, real with others, real with their emotions, but I don't think we're all a lost cause. I know this because I've been there. In a previous life I spent a lot of time pretending everything was OK when it wasn't and finding ways to not have to feel things. It was only once I allowed myself to face the emotions and sit with the scary that I learned how truly amazing life can be. When you're 100% honest with yourself and others you find an inner peace that makes those uncomfortable times not quite so bad. There are so many ways we can learn to reconnect and learn to actually feel things and one of those ways is nature. (This post had to tie into hiking, obviously!) Seriously, if this strikes a cord but you don't know where to start, find a quiet spot outside and just sit. No distractions. No phone. No music. No other people. Sit and be with yourself. If you've never done this, you're going to feel incredibly unconformable because most of us are not comfortable facing ourselves. Start taking walks alone. I don't often hike alone, but we do often hike in silence. Don't be scared of the silence. Nature allows us to quiet the the noise which makes room to feel. I should add, if you are feeling depressed or you are struggling with drug or alcohol abuse there are plenty of professionals out there that can help guide you through those tough times. These aren't things that should be taken lightly and many of us may need more guidance than simply sitting outdoors. To find professional help you can start here: http://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline.