How to "feel" your feelings. Read More
When I am feeling anxious, it shows up in my body via heart palpitations which is unnerving at my age. In addition to the physical manifestation, the matter that causes the anxiety will make every attempt to take over my mind!
Here's how I cope:
I accept my heart palpitations as stress related and allow the rather uncomfortable sensations to simply 'be' without trying to change it. Although it is easy to entertain the swirling thoughts in our heads, I do not permit it. It is too easy to get lost in there and that's a dark and scary place if left unattended. I live my life in presence. For me, there is no other way to peace. When my mind tries to seduce me away from the present moment toward suffering (anxiety), I auto-correct and bring myself right back to the NOW. This will usually involve consciously distracting myself by choosing an activity that I can immerse myself in.
The more I practice my coping strategies, the more confident I become, knowing I can handle whatever pops up next.
I believe that I can use my feelings as a barometer to see where I am at, what's bothering me and practical ways to make any necessary changes but refuse to be pulled into my own drama.
It sounds like you've worked very hard at understanding and managing your anxiety. Your mention of heart palpitations gave me pause for concern re: your health. It's always recommended to visit a physician to rule out any health issues which contribute to your anxiety.
Best of luck to you.
Good article. I did react a bit to the statement that "Feelings are not facts." The idea that feelings are not necessarily "valid" or "invalid" does not mean that they are not real. A fact, as I understand it, is something that exists. Thus, it must follow that since feelings certainly exist, they are facts. Yes, they are transitory, of our own making, and so on, but they are, indeed, facts. I worry that this message may actually contribute to the tendency of people to ignore or suppress their feelings. "They are not facts so I don't have to deal with them." I work with a lot of engineers and it is hard enough to get them to accept that sometimes their emotions get the best of them without giving them even more ammunition to ignore their own "stuff."
The intent was to communicate the labels which people ascribe to themselves based on negative feelings. For example, "I feel worthless, therefore I am worthless."
Many have extremely negative and self-loathing core beliefs. If feelings aren't tested against reality, they can become faulty self-fulfilling prophecies.
The statement was not meant to deny or suppress feelings. Sadly, many internalize the belief that feelings don't matter. You can lead a horse to water...
Thank you for sharing.
Yes, I fully agree and, I believe, understand. Still, while the statement, "I feel worthless....." may not be accurate and may be destructive does not mean that the feeling does not exist or that it is not real. Isn't there some risk in telling someone with such a feeling that "feelings are not facts." Isn't that a little bit like saying, "You shouldn't feel that way. I get to decide how you should or should not feel?"
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Linda Esposito, LCSW is a psychotherapist helping adults and teens overcome stress and anxiety.
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