Feelings can change
Dealing with unwanted, persistent thoughts and feelings can be tough.They’re often merciless and unwanted thoughts and feelings that are exhausting. Feelings are fleeting moments in time, they come and go. The relentless and persistent part is trying to take the focus off feeling sad, not good enough or feeling paralysed because you put too much pressure on yourself. The thoughts are repeated over and over and over, consequently making you feel bad and isolated.
In my newsletter, I wrote about suicide and feelings and that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary feeling. I’ve written about suicide and feelings so much, because I want every person in this world to know they belong on this planet and that they matter.
The statistics are shockingly horrifying, like this worldwide statistic – young people between the ages of 15 and 24 are at high risk of suicide, because of the hormones kicking in, trying to fit into a group, separating out from their parents, trying to be independent, trying to please others, to be perfect, and then add school on top of that. It’s really a tough time. Now back to the statistics. The statistic is 800,000 young people in this age group die by suicide every year, and that statistic is growing.
My own uncle died by suicide. We all thought he was amazing, funny, hard working, loving, caring, interesting – I could go on and on. I know from personal experience the impact of someone dying that way. And what seemed to be without warning, his death impacted 1000s of people. He’ll never know how much he was loved, and how much he’s missed.
I’m passionate about people talking about their feelings, because I know that the more we talk about them, the more we step back and see them for what they are, and how they constantly change.
What are feelings?
I’m glad you asked. Feelings are an interpretation of your emotional response to an event or situation. When you feel safe, you feel great. When you have a bad experience, it elicits a bad feeling. So you want to stay away from that situation. That’s the exact opposite of what you need to do.
I encourage you to sit in that feeling. Yes, that feeling that uncomfortable feeling. Feel where it is in your body? What does it feel like? How intense is it? How long does it stay? What’s it like now?
What is circular thinking?
Good question! You’ve got this automatic thing that happens with your thoughts. I call it circular thinking. I don’t know if I stole that from someone. Apologies if I did.
Circular thinking is the thinking about things relentlessly. Sometimes, we amplify them into being impossible to deal with or insurmountable. I want you to know that thoughts are just that – they’re thoughts, and thoughts change from moment to moment. And with every new thing you learn, your thoughts are ever changing, trying to make sense of this world we live in.
Activity: A new tool in your toolbox
Here’s a new tool to put in your toolbox, in order to see your thoughts just as thoughts because thoughts change all the time.
Bring yourself into the present moment. What are you thinking now? Think about whatever your thought is for a few minutes. Now grab a pen and paper and free flow your thoughts. Write them down as they come. Sometimes you argue with yourself, trying to understand your situation. Now have a look at what you’ve written. It’s probably the circular conversations that you often have with yourself.
See how it goes round and round and round? Probably talking about the rules and what should follow, or the punishment you’ll suffer if you don’t follow the rules. Are they helpful?
Now do it again. Think about things and then write about them. This time concentrate on which are helpful thoughts, or if they’re true.
Now, for the third time, write them down, but this time be a seven year old kid. Pretend you’re seven years old with a million questions, be curious, and have fun, really get into the mind of a cheeky seven year old kid.
After the whole activity
Look at the second time you did it, notice how you argued with yourself. It’s a natural way of being. You may have noticed how strong your thoughts have become, the content may have become the focus and becomes stronger and stronger.
The third time you were standing on the outside seeing the situation from curiosity and not judgment. Your ideas might have been more free flowin.
The more you practice, stepping outside your thoughts. And notice they’re just thoughts that will flow in and out of your mind every minute of every day. Accept that they’re thoughts and you can change them at any time. Just notice them and thank them for being there.
You have choices
This is an exercise by Steve Hays, PhD. It might seem a bit silly and ridiculous, but try it anyway. And see what difference it makes. Have fun with this one. And do it with a sense of self compassion.
Activity: Being silly can be fun
Grab a small piece of paper, write down a critical thought that you’ve been carrying around in your head. Something like I’m dumb or stupid, I’m not good enough. When you finish writing it, read it out loud and hold it like a precious ancient artefact. Hold it with kid gloves, metaphorically that is, like you see in the movies. Now fold it gently and carry it with you at all times. Keep it in your wallet, purse or anything you have on your person all the time.
Over the next few days, gently tap it and thank it for being with you on your journey. Acknowledge it for being a part of your life. This will help you to understand that your mind isn’t a dictator. It (your mind) doesn’t tell you that you have to make a rigid decision. You don’t have to think of things as black or white. Think of your mind is an advisor. It looks at your thoughts, weighs things up and helps you live your best life.
What are you going to do about your tough thoughts?
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Email me firstname.lastname@example.org .au