Tuesday, March 2, 2021
Helping our patients make sense of feelings
Feelings can be hard to describe or articulate in the “logical world” for some folks, so sometimes, to translate this into a “logical language”, I often describe feelings as “values and beliefs”.
Because often, feelings are a reflection of our values and beliefs. The stronger the feelings, the more core or deeper the values and beliefs. It’s often related to our personalities, life experiences, successes, traumas, and upbringing.
Here are some common examples that we often see in our consult rooms, and in ourselves too perhaps.
1. Feelings of frustration around incompetence may represent values and beliefs around excellence, effectiveness, and “things must be done properly or not at all”.
2. Feelings around injustice may represent values and beliefs around fairness, beauty, niceties, “life should be fair”, and “when someone does something wrong, there must be consequences”.
3. Feelings around poor self esteem or fear of failure may represent values and beliefs around shame, “I am not good enough”, “everyone will leave me in the end”, “I am significant only if I achieve”, “I am insignificant if I fail”, and so on.
Understanding feelings at the “root” level will help us to defuse from them, zoom out and observe them, “create space” for them, rather than just “buying into” it like solid facts.
Sometimes they are fake news or at least, not useful news at all.
So zoom out on the news that don’t matter, and zoom into the news that do.