The second strategy is: Know that your own feelings tell you everything you need to know.
Now, this is where the dreaded question for people in therapy comes in. The therapist sits there listening to you (and I know because I, too, am a client sometimes). You are trying to get it all out, and explain to the therapist all that has been going on for you in the hopes that he or she will completely and totally understand you and have a brilliant offering for you to get you out of your discomfort!
And, then, it seems, no matter how long or short of a time you have been talking, the therapist replies in that well-known tone of voice, “What are you feeling right now?” It may not be exactly that specific question, but don’t let that fool you. It may be disguised as, “How do you feel,” “How did you feel,” or (if you happen to get emotional) “What’s going on for you right now?”
This all may be amusing, but in all seriousness, there is no better way to get to the bottom of your “issues” than to identify and recognize your feelings. Sometimes it’s good to get the help of a therapist or counselor, especially if you are having trouble doing this at first. But, you certainly don’t need a therapist to do it. In fact, it is one of the best tools you can use in order to avoid seeing a therapist!
If you truly take the time and hone the skills to listen to your feelings, there is absolutely no problem that does not have a solution. That said, it does not mean that you will not feel pain. You will. However, if you allow yourself to actually feel whatever it is in the moment instead of distracting yourself with things to do, drinking, eating, having sex, gambling, fighting, etc., the feeling will subside and have less power over you. Because the feeling will have less power over you, it will be less likely to sneak up on you in the future. Therefore, you increase your chances of having more positive feelings in the future as well as more control over your decisions ( i.e. not drinking, fighting, etc.).
Here is my tip for feelings: Do not think about it. Our heads are good at playing games with us. However, our bodies do not lie. In the moment that you become aware of “something going on,” simply stop. Don’t do anything or say anything. Tune into your body. Where are you feeling it? Focus on the sensations. Don’t be afraid of them. Allow them to come and to pass. It takes practice, and this is part of mindfulness.
You may want to try different techniques to help support your practice of emotional (feelings) awareness. You can try writing or taking a separate time during the day to focus on body sensations, especially if it is not feasible in the moment to “stop.” Most of all, do not let your head get in the way. And, when it does get in the way, don’t be discouraged, just keep moving through it.
If you or you together with your partner would like more one-on-one support or couples counseling, and you are interested in working with Rachael Stracka, LCSW, please visit the Services menu for more information.