By a raise of hands, who likes feeling sad?
No one? Big surprise.
Allowing myself to feel sad isn’t something that comes naturally to me. When my brother-in-law passed away 5 1/2 years ago (who, by the way, was incredibly important in my life) I shut down, emotionally. I didn’t allow myself to feel the painful emotions, what I would refer to as the “negative” or “bad” emotions. It took a few years for me to be able to start crying out of sadness rather than just frustration or feeling overwhelmed. So, nowadays, it still sometimes need to take a moment to be able to identify an emotion as sadness.
Yesterday evening I wasn’t feeling too well. I originally just used the vague term of feeling “depressed” which can mean so many different things. After slowing down for a moment I thought about it and realized I was incredibly sad. Tears came to my eyes quickly and it felt crushing. I’ve been so miserable lately, having a hard time enjoying pleasant activities. Yesterday I tried so many things: I helped my aunt with Christmas cookies, I drew/sketched, I used the TIP skill with temperature. I still felt miserable. It was incredibly sad to me that I still felt so miserable after trying so many skills. I was thinking, “It shouldn’t be so hard to be happy, especially when I’m using so many skills!”
Once I identified the emotion and that I was struggling with skill use, I called my therapist for coaching. We turned to Rethinking and Acceptance skills. After I got off the phone, I got into a comfortable, open-postured position (I chose to sit in a hot bath so I could relax). With my eyes open, I did a breathing/thinking exercise.
- “Things are hard right now AND I can stand it … so … relax”
- “I can get through the moment with acceptance … so … relax”
- “It’s hard AND I can do this … so … relax”
- “I don’t deserve to suffer … so … relax”
I breathed in before the so and out on the relax. After repeating these phrases a few times I felt substantially better and was able to go to bed calm.
The way we think is so important and I was so grateful for the coaching.