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You are not how you feel

Updated: Jul 31, 2022

Sometimes we think that we become what we feel. In other words, we define ourselves as being sad or angry or devastated.

Our emotions are separate to who we are, they are temporary feelings that can last a few hours, a day or a number of days.

If we let ourselves believe that we are a sad person, we will struggle to separate the emotions from who we are.

For example, you may feel very sad that your dog died. This feeling may stay with you for days then come and go over time. The sad feelings can take hold if you reminisce about memories of your dog, or think of how they suffered, or feel lost without them, with a sense of emptiness until you adjust to their absence. These emotions wash over you like waves of grief.

This can be true for relationship breakdowns, where you can be very sad, heartbroken and devastated the relationship ended. You may feel at a loss, have a sense of emptiness until you adjust to their absence. Once again, these emotions wash over you like waves of grief but then there will be stillness, as though the seas have calmed after a massive storm. It’s important to be self-aware of these temporary waves of grief followed by the calmness.

Sometimes, we can let these feelings and emotions consume us until they become a defining characteristic of who we are. “I am sad we broke up; I will never be happy again; I can’t live without them”

To separate the emotions from who we are helps us to see that emotions are transient that come and go. They are a defined state of how we may be feeling at a given time, but they are not who we are. When we are sad, we should say to ourselves “I am feeling sad right now” rather than “I am sad” or “I am feeling devastated right now” rather than “I am devastated”.

It’s important at the end of the day to reflect on the emotions we have had throughout the day and understand that those are the feelings we felt at a point in time. You can journal about them, why you felt that way, how long you felt like that, anything that may have triggered the emotion, what helped you cope with that emotion until it passed. Look at your life holistically and think of all the things you are grateful for such as having a loving family, beautiful kids, a roof over your head, being healthy, having an income to put food on the table etc to ensure that you see the good things in life too.

To only focus on the sad emotions can become habitual where you expect to be sad on a daily basis, spiralling into depression where you can become a sad person. You have literally trained your mind to expect to be sad as it’s normal state, whereby it then takes great effort to retrain your brain to be positive to see the good around you and the opportunities that present themselves.

The power of the mind is immense. How many times have you felt sad but had to hide it because you were either trying to be strong in front of the kids, going into a meeting so forced yourself not to think about the sadness at this time or dealing with clients even though life at home had been turned upside down and you were screaming inside with a smile on your face.

So, you see, you can have power over your emotions. To allow yourself a specific time in the day to grieve, but switch it off when needed to put on a brave face.

With this self-awareness of your emotions and capability to manage them when they take hold, enables you to feel in control to decide when you have suffered enough and it is time to let go and move on.

Emotions are temporary, some are sad, some are happy, like an emotional rollercoaster riding with courage and allowing them to rise and fall. Letting yourself go with the flow of emotions helps you reach your destination rather than resisting your emotions and trying to deny they exist. Putting yourself on autopilot and not allowing yourself to grieve, pushing the feelings deep down inside you like toxic waste buried in landfill which eventually leaks out over time as it hasn’t been processed properly in the beginning.

It’s okay to let yourself grieve, to feel the emotions as they wash over you. Think of them as healing as you allow yourself to feel the pain, feel the loss, cry, shout or scream to expel the grief from your body. When you do, you can feel relief, feel emotionally spent, but a sense of calm. Overtime the waves of grief lessen and come and go with less frequency. This is when you know you are healing.

Remember, you will experience varying emotions every day of your life, so let them wash over you like an emotional cleansing ridding you of toxins and replenishing you with calm.

Author – Cheryl Duffy, Divorce Coach, Mediator and Author

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