One of the lessons that life has given me seemingly unlimited opportunities to learn is that when I identify too strongly with a difficult feeling I can create a powerful experience of personal suffering.
Science has not yet fully sorted out whether depression and anxiety are biological or learned behaviors but that doesn’t really matter in terms of the course and the power of the experience.
Language has a great deal to do with prolonging my suffering. If I say “I am an anxious person” or “I am a depressive”, I run the risk of seeing these feeling states as who I am, an identity, a way I move through the world.
It is ironic that my work as a psychotherapist for 20 years did not cure me of this habit until my 5th decade. This servesto highlight the difficulty of interrupting a learned pattern of behavior.
What I explain to my clients is that life offers a smorgasbord of emotions and we DO NOT get to choose how they initially appear. What we DO get to choose is what we will do with the feeling.
When I am feeling overwhelmed by a project or not succeeding in a relationship I can suddenly find myself struck with feelings of inadequacy or a fear of failure. I cannot prevent these feelings and thoughts from showing up.I can decide what to do with them.
I can focus on them, look for examples from the past to reinforce them, and predictably become paralyzed with fear that leads to self loathing.
There is another choice!
I can acknowledge the feeling, have compassion for the parts of me that feels these difficult feelings and then nurture myself with words and actions that mirror what I would do for a friend experiencing something similar.
Self care, a concept that thankfully has become more and more widely accepted and understand should be a habit we practice on a daily basis.
Finding your particular brand of self care is part of the journey but for me it is spending time with friends, caring for my body, reading and listening to inspiring books and podcasts, and probably most importantly, have a daily practice that sets me up success each and day.
Take this message away with …. you are NOT what you feel.
If are looking for help to get a handle in your busy reach visit our website https://www.lifeskillsresourcegroup.com/ or 407.355.7378 to schedule an appointment.
Cindy Fabico, MA, NCC, RYT200 Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist MT2724 Licensed Mental Health Counselor MH8555 Founder & CoOwner Life Skills Resource Group