“Today is going to be a good day and here’s why: Because today at least you’re you and that’s enough.” – Dear Evan Hansen
Emotions. Everyone has emotions. Sometimes, they come out of nowhere. Emotions rise and fall. Some are more intense than others. Emotions aren’t good or bad, they are just our bodies natural response to events. We can’t control what we feel, but we can control how to handle it.
It is so common to beat ourselves up for what we are feeling. We belittle ourselves for feeling emotions that are usually generalized as “bad.” Feeling things like anxiety, pain, and frustration is a part of being human, not a sign that you’re doing something wrong. It is impossible to get through life avoiding difficult emotions. Avoiding the tough stuff makes those emotions even harder to deal with.
Today I had an appointment with my therapist, like I do every week. My therapist is wonderful, and I look forward to seeing her every week. She has been such a vital part in my recovery. Today when I went to my appointment, I was feeling a lot of emotions. I knew I was feeling something, but I didn’t really know what I was feeling. It was kind of like a “funk.” My therapist, bless her heart, tried so hard to figure out what I was feeling and what I needed. I got so stuck on the negative things I was feeling that I couldn’t process through them and figure out why I was feeling that way. Recovery is learning new, healthy ways to cope with emotions. For so long, I turned to food as a coping skill to ignore those things I didn’t want to deal with. Sometimes you can’t explain what you’re feeling or why you’re feeling it, and that’s okay. What is important is to accept that you feel what you feel. Don’t try to run from it, deny it, or change it. It takes a lot of courage to simply face difficult feelings and let yourself sit with them.
Don’t be too hard on yourself.
Instead of beating yourself up for feeling anxious, stressed, overwhelmed, or any strong emotion, look at it as your body is just reacting to life’s challenges. Don’t label emotions as “good” or “bad.” Everyone has hard days, and everyone gets overwhelmed with emotions from time to time. There is always tomorrow and another chance to try again.
While I was at Timberline Knolls, we were given many different worksheets from all the different groups, and I kept them in a giant binder. When I didn’t know how to feel what I was feeling today, I got out the binder for help. I found this worksheet on self-compassion. It lists four questions you can ask yourself:
1: Can I be more gentle or compassionate with myself and what I’m experiencing? If not, what’s getting in my way?
2: What am I afraid might happen if I stop beating myself up and start cutting myself some slack?
3: Am I more understanding of people I care about and what they’re going through than I am with myself? If yes, why do I think this is?
4: What are the costs and benefits of being so hard on myself?
When you start to feel that uncomfortable emotion – you know, the one you can feel in the pit of your stomach, remind yourself that you are doing the best you can.
It’s okay to not be okay.
Be kind to yourself today. You are a work in progress that is constantly learning and growing. Emotions are meant to be felt, but they do not define your character. Embrace them, learn from them, and most importantly, don’t be afraid to feel them.
You are so much more than whatever you may be feeling in this moment.