If everything is alright, why am I not happy?
You are in excellent health. You’ve got a pretty good job. You love your companion and he/she loves you back. You have a couple of lovely friends to call any time.
But you feel miserable. You feel you are not happy.
You feel empty.
Self-criticism: As effective as it is enjoyable
Tina Gilbertson, author of Constructive Wallowing has worked with many clients who confuse ‘having’ feelings with ‘managing’ feelings. When telling her that they are allowing themselves to have their feelings, they are not noticing how their self-criticism poisoned the process.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Feeling an emotion is both easier and harder than managing an emotion. Easier because you don’t have to fight reality. Harder because it’s scary if you haven’t done it before, it often hurts, and you have to let go of self-criticism to do it.[/perfectpullquote]
The resistance to what it is, it’s what causes suffering. So that’s why the first step to having feelings is to watch your own resistance to feeling your emotions.
We all have negative self-talk.
But why do our brains focus on negative things?
Neil Pasricha, the author of The Happiness Equation, says “Because life was mostly short, brutal, and highly competitive over two hundred thousand years our species has existed on this planet. And our brains are trained for this short, brutal, and highly competitive world.”
The antidote: Self-compassion
Wouldn’t you be kind and gentle to someone who’s having a painful feeling?
As Tina Gilbertson says, “The most effective approach to painful feelings is one that enhances your compassion for yourself.”
Emotional pain is like physical pain since they are signals that something is wrong. But an emotional pain is not the problem; the problem is the situation we’re in pain about.
The objective is to get real about how you feel using The Truth Technique.
The t-r-u-t-h technique: Change your life from the inside out
T: Tell the truth about what upsets you
Stay the situation and keep it as simple as simple as possible.
Example: Someone has rejected you.
If your body feels tense, let it relax. Remember that nothing inside you can hurt you more than you’ve already been hurt.
R: Realize what you’re feeling
What do you feel right this minute? Don’t go back to yesterday’s feelings. Stay in this moment.
Example: I feel hurt by what he said, even if he didn’t mean it that way.
Take some breaths, breathing into your real feelings. Notice any tension in your body. You can let it go. You’re safe right now , emotionally.
U: Uncover self-criticism
We critisize ourselves to make ourselves better people, but the self-criticism just makes us feel bad. And then we critisize ourselves again for feeling bad! It’s a negative feedback loop! Uncover that self-criticism: look out for ‘should’ language.
Example: I should have gone round there and given her what-for.
T: Try to understand yourself
Why might a person feel this way?
Example: I’ve always been been taught to put other’s needs before mine.
H: Have the feeling.
Example: I feel angry that my friend is not considerate. It’s like I don’t even matter. I feel ignored and unloved.