When it comes to negative thoughts, illnesses, defeating the “bad guy”, monsters or what have you, our culture is obsessed with fighting.
If you’re reading this, I bet that fighting your thoughts hasn’t worked for you.
When we consistently try to ignore, suppress or push away something, it only gets stronger. The same goes for our emotions. The more you fight with your feelings about your feelings, the more they seem to stick around. When I say feelings about feelings, I’m talking about how you feel about being angry, restless, lonely, sad, shameful, guilty, etc.
What is the meaning you assign to feeling those things?
What if there was another way that seemed somewhat counter intuitive?
Allowing yourself to feel them.
The most common response I hear to this is, what if I cry forever? what if I stay angry forever? What if I can’t stop?
Well, it already seems like if those emotions are with you right now anyway, so what have you got to lose?
Also, I have yet to meet someone who is willing to experience their emotions and yet remains in a permanent state of one emotional state that they don’t want to be in.
Emotions are meant to be felt. They are called e-motions. Movement.
We often build up how scary it is to experience them. This makes sense, and is from an early time in our lives. When we were little, and not aware of our bodies, our emotions were all consuming, they felt like they could destroy us. We learned for our safety to dissociate, shut them down, distract ourselves.
But those beliefs that emotions will destroy us aren’t true as adults. We won’t be destroyed, we have bodies that are containers. We have an awareness of the outlines of our bodies, where the emotions begin and end.
We are human, and this is a part of the deal.
So here it is. Allow yourself a place where you feel safe, and tune in.
If we haven’t done this in a long time, or ever, I recommend seeing a therapist so you have someone there to hold space for you.
The practice is giving yourself complete acceptance of what comes up. Compassion for the pain and hurt. And knowing that they are just thoughts, and you are not your thoughts. They are well crafted stories that we have carried with us, inferences we have made about ourselves from reactions of others, stories that sting.
Acknowledging our thoughts, letting them be there, inviting them in without engaging with whether they are true or not is a way to stop fighting. It’s a way to put down the weapons. We’re not going to always have thoughts we like, we can’t always control our thoughts.
I believe in your ability to be there for you.
actmindfully – free resources about this very idea. Russ Harris created Acceptance and commitment therapy which is all about allowing and accepting your thoughts, while not attaching to them or their meaning
This blog and website are not a substitute for therapy or therapeutic intervention. Please see a therapist or mental health practitioner for personalized therapy.