my space tracker

Hope Forward: Surviving and Thriving through Emotional Pain: August 2010

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bad Moods Welcome Here

It's human. We complain about complaining.

We feel guilty about feeling guilty, resentful about feeling resentful, and hurt about being hurt.

We have reactions to our reactions. In my office, when people talk about how hurt they are, how much emotional pain they are in, or how much they are struggling, they sometimes express frustration over feeling how they feel. I often hear

"I shouldn't complain, look at what happened to the people in Haiti."
"I wish I weren't this angry! I should just get past it."
"I feel so stupid not being able to just get past this, or get myself out of this. I should know better."
"I'm too old to feel this way."
"I'm too young to feel this way."
"I'm too smart to feel this way."
"I hate feeling this way. It's taking over my life. I just don't know to shake it."

It is what it is, though. With a vigorous nod to how painful anger is, or betrayal or frustration or self doubt....Why is it that we think that telling ourselves we should not feel what we feel will help? We can have respect and empathy for the pain and circumstances of others, and still feel our own pain. It does not have to be a choice.

And we can count our blessings and keep a firm grasp on our gratitudes, and still feel our feelings. We can let them live and breath and flow and they will pass. Faster, I think, than when we fight them.

Yes, perspective helps with emotional pain
Yes, gratitude for what we "yes" have helps with emotional pain.
Yes, talking to good ears helps with emotional pain.
Even complaining helps. To the right ears. Our expressions don't have to always represent the whole picture. In my office, bad moods are welcome. Complaints are welcome. All words are welcome. I think that relief truly starts when we just let ourselves be where we are first.

And then we can go forward.

(and stay tuned for some thoughts on feeling entitled to feel how we feel...)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Top Fifty Social Work Blogs

Just a quick thanks to the folks at MSW for selecting HopeForward as one of the top fifty social work blogs. The list includes some great resources.

To see the blog list and read up on more things social work, personal growth, recovery and life, click the link above. And not just for social work types only!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Is Fat a Feeling?

There's a big debate over this one in my office. And in recovery rooms. And in the all the good books on eating disorders, food, weight, body and self.

Sometimes, fat is fat.

You just feel it. Bloated. Big. Uncomfortable in your own skin. Sometimes, the numbers on the scale can be the exactly the same, and one hour you feel fat, and the next, not.

Sometimes it's hormones, sometimes it's heat, humidity, too much salt. In the eyes of others, you look the same way you looked yesterday.

And sometimes feeling fat, awful as it feels, is better than feeling how you are really feeling.
Fat is often a code word for all other feelings. Especially anger, regret, frustration, fear, hurt, sadness.

If we are brave, we can unpack the fat. We can ask ourselves:
"What else is going on with me today? Besides that I feel fat."

"If I am angry, with whom?"

"If I am afraid, of what?"

"If I feel regret, for what?"

You get the idea. Of course, that's the easy part. And that's not easy. From there its about taking good care of yourself through all that hurt.
Sometimes, feeling fat is code for feeling too big in other areas. Too noticeable, too important to people who you may love, who may love you, but who might demand or expect a lot.
And sometimes, feeling fat seems better than feeling stupid. Or less than. Or wrong. Or flawed.

Maybe, unconsciously, we think that whatever character traits, defects, mistakes we've made are so bad, so unacceptable, unbearable, unforgivable, that feeling fat, as bad as it feels, is better than taking a look at ourselves, as gently as possible, making amends, and moving on.
Whatever it means, in any given moment, it does help to tend to the feeling. I think we fare so much better when we do.