Wednesday, October 28, 2015
What We Feel
Today in group, the therapist was talking about how emotions come with physical feelings, and that the physical feeling is how you know what emotion you're feeling. So for instance, when you feel anxious, you might have a tight chest, heart beating hard, sick feeling in your stomach, etc. The therapist said that if you didn't feel the physical feeling, the emotion wouldn't exist... because, without the physical feeling of the emotion, all you would have is a neutral thought.
This piqued my interest, because I have often talked about the worst part of depression and anxiety being the physical feelings. The physical feelings that come with my emotions seem to be stronger than what most people experience... at least, according to the people I've talked to. I have compared them to having flu-like symptoms. My skin starts to feel like it's burning, I feel nauseous, dizzy, can't eat, and sometimes I even get a fever.
I asked, "So does that mean, if you had no nerves at all and couldn't feel any physical feelings, you wouldn't have emotions?" (I know, I ask weird questions!)
The therapist replied that it would be hard for a person with no nerves to know what emotions they were feeling.
That is a little mind-bending to me. It is like the "If a tree fell in the forest and there was nobody around to hear it" riddle. If a person was unable to physically feel the physical feelings that came with emotions, would his emotions still exist? Whoooooooaaaaaa.
We talked about letting yourself feel your feelings, without necessarily reacting to them. For instance, lets say usually when you get angry at someone you usually punch them in the face. If you're trying to work on not punching people, then the next time you get angry, you could instead just let yourself experience the angry emotion. You could even let yourself experience the urge to punch someone in the face. But you could learn not to actually react to it. You could think, "I feel an urge to punch this guy in the face," and then just stand there and think it without actually doing it. (This also ties in with the Wise Mind skill we've been learning. Wise Mind means not just thinking with pure logic, and not with pure emotion, but with a wise mixture of both. It is recommended that when you try to make a decision, you should be sure that you are in Wise Mind first... and this sometimes means waiting until the emotion you feel is less intense. So, in this case, you could say, "Okay. I am going to go outside and take a walk, and call a friend, and have a snack, and after I am feeling calmer, if I still want to punch this guy in the face, I will come back and punch him in the face."
So when I am feeling sad or anxious, a good thing to do is just think about the physical feeling, and let it be there without judging it as a good or bad feeling... and then letting it go away when it is ready. (It is really easy to talk about, but lets see if I can actually do it!)
In 1:1 therapy, meanwhile, we talked about a safety plan for if I start to feel extremely depressed. I have 8 steps I can take.
1. Grounding. (Not like being in trouble and being sent to your room grounding! Grounding, like, centering yourself.) I can do it by naming things I see, hear and smell (like in yesterday's blog post), thinking about a thought train, and checking the facts of the situation I am sad about.
2. Pet my dog or Roo or Odie or Black Cat.
3. Look at a picture of my mom.
4. Color in my calming down coloring book.
5. Watch a movie or TV show.
6. Call the crisis line.
7. Tell my aunt.
8. Call my therapist.
(The reason my aunt is so way down on the list is because I wouldn't want to make her get worried.)
So... tomorrow I have an actual subbing job... as a teacher, not an assistant! This will be a good chance for me to practice managing my anxiety!
I will let you know how it goes.
In the mean time, I have to start cleaning my room because our friends are coming over for dinner tomorrow!