Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Gems from Therapy: Feelings Edition

It’s a new year and I imagine a lot of you are considering therapy, perhaps for the first time ever. If so, good. I’ve been intentionally transparent about my own mental health experience and how, yes, even counselors need counselors too. I do that to normalize and demystify the process so you start to view it as any other form of self-care.

Not only is therapy great for giving you space to be and feel; it also teaches you a lot. In fact, every time I leave a counseling session I walk away with some valuable gems, a new way to look at things. That’s why throughout this new year I’ll offer periodic blog posts on gems I’ve learned from therapy. First up, is my counselor’s wise overview of feelings. For the sake of her privacy, I’ll call her Reba. Tell me if you’ve ever heard a more succinct way of understanding the complex world of human emotions.

Reba defines the primary emotions we experience in the following ways:

This is the emotional reaction when things aren’t as they should be.

This is the emotional reaction to feeling physically or emotionally unsafe.

This is the emotional reaction to loss.

This is the emotional reaction when things are as they should be.

According to Reba, each feeling has an action to resolve it. If we’re angry because things aren’t as they should be, we should fix it. We should find whatever is in our control to solve the problem. If we’re afraid because we feel unsafe, we should take steps to restore our sense of safety. (Note: It’s possible to feel afraid and still be safe). If we’re sad because of real (or perceived) loss, we should grieve it. Finally, if we’re happy because things are as they should be, we should embrace it and give thanks.

How does that overview help you? How does this perspective help you navigate your feelings? In light of what you feel right now, what will be your response? 

Stay tuned for future Gems from Therapy. I promise you’ll want to schedule with a therapist right away. ;)

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