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*Warning: adult language ahead!
I’m sitting on the carpet in the lounge, tears streaming down my face, while having just shamelessly inhaled an entire slab of chocolate.
Between pitiful sobs, I am also wondering if there is more chocolate.
If there isn’t, I’ll have a fucking feeling about that too.
My feelings are more often than not overwhelming, all-consuming, and I mostly label them “bad.”
I’ve read all the self-help books, listened to all the podcasts, and shared all the memes about our feelings, and yet, here I am, in a self-pitying state, yet again.
I shouldn’t feel like this because…*insert some random and hollow meaning that will make me feel better for all of 30 seconds, probably related to the pandemic.*
At this point, if I wrote a book about why I shouldn’t be feeling the way I’m feeling, I’d have an encyclopedia of excuses: The A-Z of How to Let your Feelings Ruin your Life. #1 New York Times Bestseller.
And suddenly I think, fuck feelings.
Almost instantaneously there is a sudden lift in my mood. The heaviness starts to dissipate, and I start wondering about their meaning.
This must have been triggered by one of the many podcasts I have listened to; it’s not a new concept, but it swirls in my mind as if my brain is throwing me a life raft or my brain is just hopped up on sugar.
There are only really two reasons to do anything in our lives:
1. It feels good.
2. It’s something we believe to be good or right.
Sometimes, these two reasons align beautifully—in perfect harmony—and the world makes sense. But, the majority of the time, these two reasons clash like a Karen and an innocent bystander.
There are often things we do that feel shitty but are good for us. Getting our asses off the couch so we can exercise, managing our time efficiently when we feel demotivated or anxious, setting and enforcing boundaries, eating something healthy when all we want to do is drown ourselves in chocolate.
Actions based on our feelings are easy. It’s something we feel, and then it’s something we do. We scratch an itch, and that instant relief is fucking fantastic, but long-term, it fucks us up. I’m pretty skilled in this area.
Action based on what’s good or right for us—and that is entirely subjective—is where we often mess up. It’s hard because we are not often clear on what that means to us, and we have to then fight our lower impulses of instant gratification and a false sense of control.
And here’s the clincher, when we do the things that we deem good for ourselves, the positive effects are long-lasting; that shit will build self-esteem and adds meaning to our lives. The kind of meaning that aligns with our core values—the soul-resonating kind.
So, we have to actively be differentiating between what feels good and what is good or right for us.
Does this mean we need to ignore our feelings? Fuck no; that leads to a slippery slope of emotional unavailability and you become an expert at burying and not processing.
Feelings need space to be felt; it’s the only way we actually release them, but we should always be questioning the meaning we are assigning to them.
Take the below as examples:
>> Feeling Meaning 1: I feel sad…because a relationship ended, and I am scared of dying alone with nine cats, writing Mills & Boons novels. (Sidenote: I am nothing without my self-defense mechanism of jokes.)
>> Feeling Meaning 2: I feel sad…because something I wanted to work out didn’t, and I am scared that I won’t feel that way again, but logically, I know that I will. I just need time to heal.
>> Feeling Meaning 3: I feel tired…I can work out anytime; I don’t need to do it today. It’s so comfy on the couch, and I deserve a break.
>> Feeling Meaning 4: I feel tired…but I know that after I run, I feel fucking great, I get the goddamn endorphins flowing, and I sleep better at night. Up and at ‘em—this is good for you.
Our feelings are often self-contained, temporary, and inaccurate.
When we try to control them, we aggravate them, often multiplying them until we are just a ball of emotion, cue tears, carpet sitting, and chocolate shoveling.
What we need to do is understand the meaning: why are we feeling the way we are and what meaning are we assigning?
And most importantly, does that meaning make fucking sense to us?
I was surprised when I delved into my meanings—how many of them were completely fucked up and needed some serious reworking.
Fuck feelings; control the assigned meanings.
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