What are feelings? Oh right, they are those annoying things that sometimes take over our bodies and make us act or think in completely irrational ways. They are also those things that make us get up in the morning and motivate us to do great things. If you are a female, they are things that you often eat. (Just kidding…but not really. Women are emotional eaters).
We probably confuse them with food because feelings come in all shapes, sizes and flavors.
Growing up in a household with immigrant parents, the views and values that were instilled in me were those of hard work and survival. Emotions were neither discussed nor acknowledged as they were seen to be things that got in the way of the fundamental principles of survival. When asked by my parents about how I was “feeling” they meant are you sick or healthy.
No one ever asked if I felt happy, sad, worried, confused, afraid, excited etc. To this day, when I tell my father about having strong feelings of sadness about something, his response to me is often, “Just stop feeling sad. There is no reason to feel this way.” Obviously that solves everything….NOT.
So when thinking about feelings and all of the different ones that people experience daily, the difficulty that arises is how do you determine when you are not allowing yourself to deal with feelings that are coming up in fear that they may be too much to handle versus letting yourself be so overcome with feelings that they take over your life and disable you from acting in a logical way.
Most people have really great insight into how they feel and why and some people may even know what they need to do to regulate those feelings so that they can keep themselves in a balanced and healthy state of mind. Unfortunately, knowing the right answers and actually acting on them are two very different things. Feelings are also extremely influential in helping ourselves justify things to validate the choices we make and in talking ourselves in or out of anything.
So when we have all of these feelings what are we supposed to do with them?! How do we deal with them?! So many feelings and so many feelings about having feelings and how that might make you feel.
TALK ABOUT THEM!!!
- Why? The worst thing you can do with feelings is bottle them up inside because at some point you can only hold in so many things before you explode and instead of dealing with mini discomfort when that comes along, you are now going to face a world of awfulness attempting to detangle the mess of feelings you have created.
- When?– When you talk about your feelings is entirely up to you based on what you want to do about them. If you want to just get them out and are not worried about consequences or affects on others, then talk about them as soon as they are there. If you are wanting to find resolution or having a productive discussion, you may want to sit with them and think about them first outside of the moment in which they are at their peak. You can then go on to talk about them when you feel you are able to articulate them in a way that can construct the best possible outcome for yourself or anyone else involved.
- What?– Share as much about your feelings as you want to share with whomever you choose to share with. Obviously Gage your audience and ensure that you are expressing feelings in a way that will really help you process and break them down rather than in a way that can create other feelings to deal with.
- Who?– Well if you talk about it with me that guarantees my job security, so that is typically preferable. Kidding again. But seriously, this is why therapy exists!! ***You do not need to have a severe mental illness to seek out a neutral, trained professional who can help you navigate your feelings and figure out what is in your best interest in terms of moving forward with those feelings.
If you have any questions about the how, feel free to email or call me for more information:
MEAN GIRLS…..do they really exist in the adult world?! The answer is ABSOLUTELY.
Something that comes up a lot in therapy is the concept of over analysis. Over analysis often comes from our internal anxiety and self doubt. We learn that knowledge is power and that the more we know the better off we will be. Just to be clear, analysis is NOT knowledge; it is theory NOT fact. Continue reading
I wanted to write this post and list my top 5 favorite apps out there on your smart phones or tablets that I recommend to my clients and feel are extremely helpful and beneficial when people are trying to work on themselves and also do some self reflection around their behaviors and emotions. Continue reading
Confidence….Is anyone REALLY confident? If someone is confident does that mean they are cocky or conceited or narcissistic? If someone isn’t confident does that mean they are insecure and self loathing?
I often hear people say that one of the most attractive qualities in another person is confidence. In the past, I believed confidence was something you have when you have something to actually be proud about or when you don’t have any doubts in yourself. Through the years, I was also taught to be modest and humble and thought maybe if I acted in a way that gave off the impression that I liked myself or something about me, that is would seem showy or conceited. I also believed that there were things about myself that needed a lot of improvement and how can you possibly be confident about something that you see as a problem?!
As a female, I strongly believe in the power of female intuition and trusting my instincts. Prior to becoming a social worker/therapist and prior to my transition into adulthood, I was very bad at reading people’s behaviors and seeing clear signs of issues in my relationships. Overtime with a lot of practice, both positive and negative, I started to learn about this notion of “gut feelings”.
In wanting to explain accurately what exactly I am referring to when I use the term gut feelings, I naturally went to my most credible sources, The American Psychological Association and Wikipedia. Wikipedia defines a gut feeling as, “An instinct or intuition; an immediate or basic feeling or reaction without a logical rationale.” So what I thought was just an expression or a lucky guess, in fact, was researched by Dr. Siri Carpenter who found that there is actual medical evidence linking the “brain in your gut” to exerting powerful influence over the one in your head. So with this research, it validates the feelings that I personally have every time my body reacts uncomfortably to a situation sparking this idea in my mind that something just is not right.
For those of us who are big over analyzers and self doubters, we become very skilled in the art of talking ourselves out of our initial instinctual reactions, and pathologizing different behaviors or situations to convince ourselves that what we feel is not an accurate measurement of judgement.
From a personal example. one of my first experiences was a few years ago during a long term relationship where I was able to notice that I had a clear immediate reaction to a situation and a feeling in my gut that something was not sitting well with me. The things that my boyfriend was telling me at the time in conjunction with how he was telling me and my personal observations of his body language and movements, I felt as though things did not align and I needed to address them. When I finally worked up the courage to stand up for myself and confront my boyfriend about the discrepancies that I was noticing, he became instantly irate storming out of the house stating that I was crazy and making up stories in my head. He also continued to tell me that the things I chose to focus on were so unimportant in the grand scheme of our relationship and that I dwell on issues that are completely trivial.
After my boyfriend left the house, I sat alone with my thoughts trying to replay situations in my mind and examine everything he or I said and did. As I recalled all of the different events in that interaction and just how upset he became over my accusations, I started to feel like I truly was being dramatic, or over reacting or making things up. I shortly thereafter called my boyfriend to apologize for my words and for making assumptions and hoped that he could forgive me. He continued to make me feel bad about the situation and relaying to me that he would need time to get over the terrible things that I had thought about him.
As the typical female in relationship desperation, I decided to just confirm that this in fact was my imagination and if so, despite causing turmoil in my relationship, I would still feel much better if I was wrong about the issue instead of being proven right about some pretty hurtful transgressions. I did a little online “research” (how did people every live without Google?!)
Low and behold, with my super, girl on a mission, FBI ways, I found exactly what I was looking for and in fact, the things that I had initially suspected about my boyfriend were unfortunately correct. At this point I was completely overwhelmed by all of the different things I was feeling. I was feeling so hurt and sick about what I had just confirmed, yet I simultaneously was feeling relieved and vindicated that I wasn’t a crazy, over reacting, fictional story teller. I wasn’t sure which one made me feel worse; the fact that my trust was broken or the fact that someone manipulated me by playing up on my insecurities and self doubt.
A trend that I hear from people in every form of therapy (individual, couples, family) is that they have problems communicating their feelings effectively. Often people tell me they said hurtful things to their partners, family or friends during an argument and now the other person is acting differently towards them.
Picture that your relationship with any person in your life is a car. Every argument or unpleasant experience that occurs puts a dent into the car. You can only cause so many dents before the car is no longer drive able or is dented so badly that it is then totaled. Whenever we hurt someone, there is no magic eraser to make them forget how bad it felt. Once you put words out there, you are completely unable to retract them.
Over the past few years, I have accumulated a few different popular logos that may sound silly, but in fact, are fantastic mottos to keep in mind when dealing with everyday life or difficult situations. In this post, I have decided to define and explain three of these mottos that I attempt to use in my own daily life, and will often recommend to clients as well.
- NO SHAME IN YOUR GAME– As crass and pretentious as this may come off, it is a great phrase to keep in mind. We can often become so worried about how we appear to others or what others think about us, that we will sometimes change our own thoughts and behaviors to accommodate people while compromising ourselves. Just because someone does not agree with our beliefs or actions, it does not mean they are incorrect. We may do things that we are not proud of, but the most important thing to remember, is if we make a choice, we own it, no matter what. If we cannot do so, then perhaps we should rethink our decisions.
- FAKE IT ‘TIL YOU MAKE IT– This does not imply that you should be dishonest or in-genuine about anything! Please be clear, that this expression is deeper than its literal meaning. What this means is often times, we envision how we want to present ourselves or how we want a specific situation to play out, however, we doubt our own strength and abilities and manifest our own worst case scenarios. Going into a situation that intimidates or frightens you, and attempting to “fake it ’til you make it” you act the way you would want to be seen, even if you don’t 100% feel that same inner confidence. By doing so, we show ourselves that we are much more prepared to handle the obstacles in our way and manifest an ending which is more along the lines of what we had hoped.
- AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT-I’m sure everyone has seen the “Sweet Georgia Brown” YouTube video when a southern woman sees a fire behind her in her building and states, “Ain’t nobody got time for that”. We all laugh at this because in the context of her situation, it was a little misused. In terms of our own daily lives, this phrase can help us immensely. As people, when something is on our minds, we tend to perseverate and overanalyze the situation until we have come up with all of these different “what if” scenarios. By doing so, we assume the worst and build a mountain out of a molehill. If we are able to be more mindful and catch ourselves starting this negative cycle, we can remind ourselves that we don’t have time for that. We cannot control other people, but we CAN control ourselves. And if something is upsetting us, until we can obtain a resolution, obsessing over it in our minds will only cause us more harm internally and possibly affect our judgement about how to properly manage the issue.