How Trying to Feel Better is Actually Making You Feel Worse

“I shouldn’t feel this way,”  I silently told myself.  

“I should really be more grateful. Look at all the stuff I have to be grateful for!
What’s wrong with me? Ok… ok… ok… what do I need to do to feel more grateful?”

THIS is the conversation loop that swirls through my head when I’m feeling a way I think I shouldn’t be feeling.

At first blush of a painful, inconvenient feeling should we not be stammering to:
a walk,
a call with a friend,
an uplifting podcast or Youtube video?

I certainly thought so.
But maybe aggressively trying to feel better is actually making us feel worse?!

Perhaps easily and quickly feeling our best lies on the other side of allowing ourselves to feel really bad without trying to immediately fix it.

When you’re crying do you want someone to say “please don’t cry”?!
No!  What we want is to feel understood, accepted, and cared for… messy feelings included.  

Yet, so often we reject our own upset feelings relating to them as inconvenient or childish. Children, however, are often wiser than adults and instinctively know how to go from feeling bad to good with great ease. 

I thought I was doing a good job of not trying to fix or eliminate my painful feelings.
When I didn’t feel good I would actively say, “Be patient with yourself,” and “Be kinder to yourself.”

But, I’ve learned that when I ask myself to be patient when I am feeling frustrated it IS me trying to fix myself! Can you see this? It is me trying to fix myself by trying to be patient instead of acknowledging the feelings of frustration.
When we forget to begin the healing process with first acknowledging and embracing our uncomfortable feelings we actually perpetuate them.   

Imagine a newborn baby.  Let’s say this baby is crying and you want very much to console it.  You probably wouldn’t pick that baby up, shake it, and say, “stop crying right now!” because you instinctively know that would further upset the child and perpetuate the crying.  

You would gingerly pick up the baby, gently pat its back, and perhaps say, “It’s ok… I know you are upset and that’s alright. I’m here now and you’re safe with me.”  As you do, the baby will slowly stop crying and calm down. Why? Because it feels comforted and understood.

You and I are like this baby.  And when we are upset the quickest, healthiest way to feel better is to begin with acknowledging that we feel bad.  AND that it is OK to feel bad in this moment.  

3 Steps for When You’re Feeling Upset that Might Actually Help You Feel Better

I would like to lovingly suggest the following dialogue and steps to practice:

1. When you are upset, begin by telling yourself:
“Yes, I am upset right now.
Yes, I am very upset right now.
And I am so angry.”
And you just let yourself BE in it for awhile.

2. Then say, “This is where I am right now.”
And when you do… don’t say, “And I should be more patient.”

3. Just say:
“Here I am,
Here I am,
HERE. I. AM.”

Why do we say “Here I am?”
Because “I AM” is the whole of you.
Here, in the presence of God, in the presence of The Universe, here I am.

So by saying “Here I Am” you are surrendering yourself to the experience of just being exactly where you are and the gradual process of feeling better. But it is a process.

When the baby is crying do you think he is asking himself to try to be patient?!  No, absolutely not. He or she is going to cry until they feel like they are done. And with time and comforting, the baby gets so tired of crying he will just naturally stop…. without YOU MAKING HIM.

So when you are thinking, “Oh, I am not being patient or nice to myself,” you are in direct conflict because there is a kind of internal judgement that says, “I am not patient and I should be more patient.”  

But SHOULD you?

Maybe at the moment that’s just where you are.
So you SHOULDN’T.
Because you’re not patient.

So if you’re not patient you don’t need to say “I should be patient.”
Because at that moment you’re NOT patient.
So just leave it. When you let yourself just cry it’ll be over in five minutes because the emotion naturally passes.

So let time pass… just absorb what you are experiencing.
Don’t reject it by trying to feel anything other than what you are feeling.
And you too will come into the recognition that it is OK to be in that moment and everything is going to be more than OK.

I felt so sad when I wrote this post about feeling like I “have to have it all together.”  I couldn’t help but start to cry. And cry and cry. It has been difficult facing the awareness that I believed I was alone in life and could only rely on myself.

I just sat there.
At the computer.
Tears running down my cheeks and slowly reciting…

Here I am.
Here I am.
HERE. I. AM.

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