We can't "Think" our way out of our "Feelings
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We can't "Think" our way out of our "Feelings

by
Linda Breathnach

Hi, my name is Linda Breathnach and I am an IACP accredited Counsellor Psychotherapist, Supervisor and lecturer and I am the founder of Therapyandtraining.ie

I work with individuals, couples and groups in both corporate and therapeutic spaces and a big part of this work involves helping clients to slow
down and start focusing on their emotions, whether they are positive or negative,
comfortable or uncomfortable.

Often in today’s fast-paced world, the emphasis is on achieving happiness and because of this, we can sometimes be tempted to try to talk ourselves out of other more uncomfortable feelings such as anger, sadness, frustration, hurt, guilt, shame etc.

We can attempt to rationalise and tell ourselves that our feelings don’t make sense or that we can “just not think about them” or to “look on the bright side”. However, when we do this, there is a risk that we are just burying or suppressing our feelings.

In Counselling and Psychotherapy, there is a well-known phrase; “Depression is Suppression and the only way to prevent it is Expression (of feelings, appropriately!)”.

Clinical Depression can be more complex and sometimes requires medical intervention but feelings such as those mentioned in the above list are normal human emotions and the best way to help them to pass is to sit with them, despite how uncomfortable that might be, and spend some time understanding them rather than changing them or solving them.

Ironically, the Fear of sitting with those difficult scary emotions is usually worse than the actual emotions themselves! Relief is an emotion that clients often feel once they’ve sat with and expressed some difficult feelings in a session.
This is where the phrase “a problem shared is a problem halved” comes from. If we keep those difficult feelings bottled up and going round and round inside, there is nobody to challenge them and they start to influence irrational thoughts which in turn make us feel worse and again leads to more anxious scary thoughts. What I am trying to say in a nutshell is, “it’s good to talk”, this doesn’t have to be with a professional but it does need to be somebody who is emotionally supportive.

We all have supportive friends and family members that can be divided into two categories, The Practical Supporters and The Emotional Supporters.
The Practical Supporters are great for making enquiries, helping you to fill out forms and solving problems, they are the doers. The Emotional Supporters will sit with you in your pain and listen as you work your own way through your painful feelings. Each type of person has their purpose. The latter type is the ideal person to support you when you are feeling low.

It is also helpful to remember that Feelings aren’t permanent. They come and they go, they shift and they evolve, minute to minute, hour to hour. Be gentle with them and they will pass.

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