I have a feeling’s flip chart on my desk that someone gave me as a gift. It has fun feelings, like “rockin” and “giddy,” as well as some that are a bit more unique, like “antisocial” and “managerial.” I was sitting down to write this blog, and realized that I had “hunky dory” as the feeling of the day. But I don’t feel hunky dory. I feel frustrated. That’s right – Vicki, who loves life and likes to be happy, the therapist who focuses on how other people feel, I feel frustrated. But I left it on my flip chart. Not because I will lie to the clients that I see later, if they asked me I would tell them how I felt. It is because I do not want to feel frustrated anymore, I want to feel hunky dory, and I am in charge of my feelings.
People do not generally love that statement. People do not want to be in charge of their own feelings, it is why we uses phrases like “you make me so mad.” Except, interestingly, we also do not want others to be in control of us and when you give someone that power, you are, in fact, losing control. And you are choosing to give that power away.
This is not to say that you are not affected or impacted by others, you certainly are. But personal responsibility is about accepting responsibility for your own feelings, and in that way, you are taking control of your own life and not allowing others to control you in a way that you do not like. What does this have to do with what I started with?
I decided that I do not want to feel frustrated anymore. I have spent some serious time wallowing (remember last week we talked about wallowing and then moving?), and I have worked hard with other people to help them get moving and get out of the wallow. But I have not taken the time for myself. Many of us in the helping professions do a GREAT job of helping others, we know all of the right things to say, and can motivate and encourage other’s like no one could ever expect. I said others. Most helpers have a difficult time helping themselves, for a variety of reasons. In times like now, all of the helping professionals are being traumatized the way that you are: we are all still experiencing trauma from being separated from the people and places that we love, we are experiencing trauma of trying to accept the fear of getting sick and not “really knowing” what that will mean, and we are experiencing the same kind of trauma from the vast array of other issues that are happening and being displayed on television and social media.
There have been studies that have shown that if you smile for 15-20 minutes, even if it is fake, you will start to feel better and the smile will become real. I use the flip chart to focus on how I want to feel, and now it is my job to work on that. And, so, I write about it. I focus on how I want to feel, and notice the things that help me to feel that way. I tell my story to you, because that is a safe and appropriate space to share it. I took control, I am ready to stop wallowing.
I hope that if you are identifying with this blog, that you will take a moment and try to take control of your feelings. If you are being treated poorly by others, do not allow them to also control your feelings when you are not with them. If you are experiencing the trauma of the Pandemic, try to focus on the things that you can appreciate. This is NOT contradictory to accepting feelings. Remember: wallow, and then move. If we are honest, I think that most of us have taken time to wallow, and not it’s time to move.