Disclaimer: In this article I discuss “feelings,” but am not alluding to any clinical terms of diagnosis. What I refer to are different from situations that have reached the clinical level and need proper medical care.
You define your own identify when you feel “bad” because you struggle to cope with “feeling” depressed, stressed or anxious. When meds or therapies don’t reduce symptoms such as feeling at-the-verge, emotional numbness, panic attack or overwhelming worry, you then think that you getting “worse.”
Then here comes a “disorder,” a label that you either adopt by reading about symptoms online or by receiving prescriptions.
The thing is, what happens when you accept the label? Doesn’t it validate the belief that you’re ill? Doesn’t it put set you to victim status and allow you to think, “It’s okay to stay like that because I’m sick”?
Does this kind of validation serve any good purposes? Does it satisfy what’s missing within you: those unmet needs, wants and desires? Does it resolve anything? Does it have any connection with your true feelings?
You want to do much more than get rid of the symptoms, don’t you? You want to stop coping with emotions and really connect to them, find out what you really want in life, and get it.
With meds that simply mask symptoms, one only feels a sense of distance from their feelings. In some cases, people show excessive behaviors, in which addictions place a fog veiling their hard emotions.
Here’s the secret: inside of you there’s knowledge and understanding of what is still missing in life, but you have learned to ignore it or deny it, so you feel bad for feeling bad.
But hey, all feelings are good! It sounds strange, doesn’t it?
They are all good because they serve as calls-to-action (CTAs) and as a messenger, to deliver a message to alert you:
“Hey something is not quite right. Do something to make a difference. Don’t ignore me. Are you listening?!”
With such a CTA, all the emotions are good if the cause of the feeling is coming from precise perceptions about yourself and others. Never ignore or deny the way you feel. If you don’t open or read messages, you know that you’ll likely miss out on something important.
It is the action of attempting to cope with the feelings without understanding the meaning of them, that causes more pain, frustration or overly indulgent behavior. How you react to the feelings, rather than responding to them, determines if you’ll feel more positively.
Feeling depressed stems from unmet needs or unresolved emotions, still present despite the coping mechanism or distractor—its ineffectiveness leads to frustration and then eventually heavier feelings. When the weight becomes unbearable, you “check out” and lose all the motivation, enthusiasm, interest and energy coming from your connection to the world. This is a CTA to implant hope and need to get started again.
Feeling anxious comes from insecurity, worrying, fearing something bad might happen. Ask yourself: “What could happen next?” Then: “What might really happen? If your “what if” happens, here’s the follow-up question: “So what?” Do you notice that the edgy feeling starts to wind down?
Feeling stressed usually happens when you get overwhelmed by having too much to handle. Do you have to do everything all at once? What’s the problem with taking little baby steps to move forward? Do you lose anything when you break things down to smaller and achievable chunks? Are you sure there are no other alternatives?
Learn how to listen to your emotions and what they are trying to tell you to do. Pain or tension is a message; feeling depressed, stressed or anxious is a response, and coping is the driving force. For example, abusing alcohol as a distracting mechanism, does not really address the response to the message. Instead, it drives you farther into the unresolved feelings which create more pain.
There good news is: there is a healthy way to respond to feelings and emotions!
Take a progressive process that allows you to start taking back control of what you do. First, identify the true feeling: i.e., give yourself permission to feel what you truly are experiencing. Second, understand the root cause—why you’re feeling the way you do. Finally, find a healthy way to respond to the feelings and meet the need, identifying the best alternative to reconnect yourself with positive feelings.
“It’s not running from our emotional reactions, or medicating them, that provides answers. It’s the awareness of obstacles that allows us to be present.” (“The Gift of Anxiety” by David Hayden)
Counterintuitively, symptoms can be your friends, if you let them. Need a helping held? We at Caring Nature are here for you.