F is for Feelings

FThoughts are the shadows of our feelings–always darker, emptier, and simpler. ~Friedrich Nietzsch

. . . when we long for life without . . . difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and and diamonds are made under pressure.~Peter Marshall

I would not exchange the laughter of my heart for the fortunes of the multitudes; nor would I be content with converting my tears . . . into calm. It is my fervent hope that my whole life on this earth will ever be tears and laughter. ~Kahlil Gibran

I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable . . . but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing. ~Agatha Christie

Feelings. They are among the strongest parts of our being and they often come uninvited, without warning, and stay longer than we would allow even the best of a family member to stay in our house.

When I’m in therapy, the inevitable question comes up in response to a situation, “How did that make you feel?” or “How do you feel about that?” or some other such variation. Usually I’m able to be quite glib about it or fake my way through those early questions. If I know the therapist well enough, I’ll ask back “How do you think I feel?” This guarantees a few minutes of off-side topic, totally not what my therapist had in mind. 😉

unpleasantfeeling

There are really just three take-aways I want you to get from this post, if nothing else, and those are:

1. Feelings are our friends. Some people worry because they feel they are too emotional, too sensitive, or they “wear their heart on their sleeve.” Well I’m here to tell you that there is such a thing as a numb state. This is when you want to cry but you can’t, there’s a heaviness in your chest but you don’t know what’s causing it, and—if one isn’t careful—one might do almost anything to get out of that numb state and start feeling again. Feelings are our friends. They are our emotional barometer of what’s happening in the world, and we need them to survive.

2. Feelings aren’t facts. This kind of thinking goes like this. I feel like an idiot, therefore I must be an idiot. This is one time the “Feelings aren’t facts” rule of thumb would apply, or any other time we get stuck in situations that on the surface make sense but underneath look like sharks circling their dinner.

notupset3. Feelings don’t last forever. Even though it might not seem like it at the time, feelings definitely do have a shelf life. Just like good things don’t last forever, so it is with bad things. The world is in constant flux, and we are constantly growing and changing with it. Never fear. If you don’t like this feeling, there will soon be another one to take its place.

Peace out, strong warriors. xoxo

 

Smile and Hello Practice

someonenewA smile is a curve that sets everything straight. ~Phyllis Diller

Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened. ~Dr. Seuss

They might not need me; but they might. I’ll let my head be just in sight; a smile as small as mine might be precisely their necessity. ~Emily Dickinson

There are a ton of exercises and techniques I have yet to try in David Burns’s When Panic Attacks. I practically carry it with me wherever I go, and I definitely pull it out to work on cognitive distortions (This is All My Fault, I’m going To Do It All Wrong, I Can’t Get Anything Right, I’m so fat).

Smile and Hello Practice is one of the Interpersonal Techniques to counterbalance Shyness and Loneliness. You might not know this, or you may already know this about me, but I’m very shy. In order to make this a more palatable self-assignment, I thought I would do it at one of the funnest places I know, the Novi Public Librarysmile

The instructions go like this: “If you are shy, you can smile and say hello to 10 strangers per day. Use a 3×5 card to record how many people respond positively, neutrally, or negatively. You’ll often discover that people are much friendlier than you expected—unless you happen to live in Manhattan. I’ve tried this in Manhattan and everyone ignored me! Of course, even that can be helpful, because you quickly get over your fears of rejection.” (David Burns, When Panic Attacks )

This was pretty tough. When I was forced to keep my head up, say hello, and smile, it made me think of how much I look away and avoid human contact.  So, I only managed eight people. Every person except one smiled and said hello back. Plus–I didn’t count them among the eight–when I was at the self-checkout area with my books, there were two little boys with their Mommy. One turned right around and said to me “Hi!” Well, with that cheery face, what could I do except say hi back, and then his compadre said hi as well. So, if you count the two little guys there were ten.

What a feeling! We need connection and contact in this world and I connected in a little teensy way with 10 people.It’s pretty heady. Ever try it yourself? sayhello