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Posts Tagged ‘feeling painful emotions’

All day yesterday, I felt sad. I was able to recognize that this sadness had nothing to do with today. This is the lingering sadness from the flashback I recovered recently. I tried very hard to follow my therapist’s advice and allow myself to “sit with” the pain rather than try to stuff it down or fuel it.

I don’t like feeling sad. For most of my life, I ate whenever I felt sad. I have been making lots of progress on conquering an eating disorder (have lost 13 lbs!), so I have not been turning to food whenever I feel sad. If I don’t “stuff down” the sadness through food, then my next alternative is typically to fuel the sadness. I think about something in my day-to-day life that could be causing the sadness, and it is like pouring gasoline on a candle. I take a small sadness and turn it into a really big deal.

I just realized that my reaction is so typical of a trauma survivor. I go to one extreme or the other: I deny the pain, or I fuel it into a full-fledged depression.

This time, I am trying very hard to follow my therapist’s advice. He told me that I needed to learn how to “be” with painful emotions. I don’t have to stop them or fuel them. It is okay just to “sit with them” for a little while, and then they will pass.

My yoga instructor put it another way. She said that I am the fire hose, and the emotion is the water coursing through it. I don’t need to get “attached” to the emotion. Just let it flow out of me and back into the universe. I have been doing some visualizations and “seeing” the sadness flow out of me. I am not denying or encouraging it. I am just trying to “be with it.”

This is a new skill for me, so it will probably take some practice. So far, so good. I feel sad, but I also recognize that the sadness is an echo of the past and not about today. I can still have a good day, even when I am feeling blue.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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