Are you stuck with a feeling you don't like?
Often, people come into therapy to talk about feelings they have that they do not like. They might want to stop having the painful feeling, or to feel a different way. Emotions like anger, sadness, grief and fear can be powerful ones, there is no wonder we might want to avoid them. Maybe we buy into the media hype telling us we should always be happy, if so we might fear feeling anything else is abnormal.
The thing is, as clients describe what's happening in their lives it's often easy to understand why they feel as they do. For example, it's natural to feel grief when someone dies, or a relationship ends. It's very common to be angry when we think we are treated unfairly. Fear can be a very useful emotion when we're in danger, what scares each of us is different.
Emotions naturally come and go all the time. We're not always happy, through a normal day there will be a wide range of feelings that pass through us. When we notice what we feel, and check out what's happening that's prompted it, this can help a feeling release and evaporate.
That might sound easy, but actually it can be hard to do. Daring to look at powerful feelings can be tough, you might fear if you start crying you will never stop, or that anger might consume you. The most helpful balance is when feelings are allowed to be there, but they don't get acted out, and decisions are not made when we are in the intensity of them. Results are not often instant, but when you fully recognise what is happening inside it somehow changes the way you feel and react.
A good question to ask when in the throes of a strong emotion is "is this reasonable?" If it is, you might comfort yourself with the knowledge that like all things, it will pass. That may not take away the pain you feel right now, but it just might make it more bearable. Talking it through can be a helpful way to help it move on.
If you think the strong emotion is not reasonable given what's happening, for example if you are very upset by something and you don't know why, you might ask "what's keeping this feeling going?" You might be stuck in a loop of negative thinking. Another possibility is that you're being reminded of past events and that's making your feelings now more intense. There are many, many explanations, all that is certain is that yours will be unique.
When feelings become stuck and aren't moving on with time, that may be the time to seek some help in exploring them so that you can move on. Counselling can be a beneficial part of this process.
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