Dear Pete & Kate,
Negative feelings and negative self-talk are not two of a kind. One big difference is that a negative feeling isn’t bad to have, but negative self-talk is. Negative self-talk is directed at who you are as a person. Whereas, negative feelings are a signal that something undesired is happening to you.
There are four common negative feelings that are okay to have, such as sad, mad, afraid and helpless. These feelings are good indicators of difficult life experiences which you are accurately receiving. All four common negative feelings add positive value by keeping people tuned into how the ups and downs of life roll.
There is a right time (in your life/experience) to feel all four of the basic negative feelings either one at a time, two together or all four in a sequence. Pay attention to when these four feelings show up within you.
I want you to learn how to tolerate each one of the common negative feelings. You can train yourself to handle feeling one or more of them simultaneously without being flooded.
First, name the feeling you are having. (I am sad, mad, afraid or feeling helpless)
Second, notice the flow of the feeling. Think of the flow as being in the form of a trickling stream, a swift river or a vast & rolling ocean.
Third, let your feelings flow without them over-flowing.
You can have patience with the negative feelings which stream in because they don’t take over. If the feelings are running in like a river – you may need to stop what you are doing and have a personal Time Out. Time Out for adults is much better than the kid version. If the feeling is over-flowing or like falling into an ocean and you think you can’t swim out of it alone – ask for help returning to shore. Call a friend, family member or professional as soon as you can.
All four common negative feelings can be functional and necessary for daily/weekly life. However, they all have dysfunctional possibilities such as when sad develops into depressed, mad develops into aggressive, afraid develops into anxiety and when helpless begins to feel powerless. These stronger versions of the common four can cause a constant and overwhelming flow which is hard to withstand making you feel sea sick in an emotion ocean.
Feel your feelings, let them flow, they will flow out with time and others will flow in.
Dawna Daigneault, Ed.S., L.P.C.
Better By Monday is a blog about one thing you can do, try or practice over the weekend to feel a little bit better by Monday. It’s the bite-sized but professional “smart talk” that I want my kids to know because I believe it will make their lives better.