Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Feelings sometimes feel like facts
But where does the phrase "Feelings aren't facts" come in? To me this means that some of my thoughts are really fabricated projections and aren't based on reality. It is easy for me to relapse into the old way of thinking that involves blame, judgment, obsession, and even dislike. My thoughts can either be ones that are distorted, based on unfounded assumptions and negative projections or they can be ones that bring me pleasure, comfort, peace, and acceptance.
The feelings that I have had which were counter-productive to recovery were those in which I blame myself for what I perceive as a slight by another: "If only I had said something different, the person would like me." And usually if I stay in that frame of mind long enough, I get around to twisting those thoughts of blaming into having angry thoughts about others: "I don't deserve to be treated this way. This person is a royal pain."
I have to smile at these little internal rants that so quickly can take over if I am not careful. And these can occur whether I actually know the person or not. It may be a perceived snub from someone on line. Or it may be someone I know who was busy and didn't say Hello. These thoughts happen instantaneously based on the old fears of abandonment, rejection, and criticism that happened in the past, mostly in my family of origin. It is the child within raging against all kinds of perceived slights.
So when these unhealthy and negative thoughts come up, I take time to sit with them and look at them from an adult perspective. Are these thoughts really true or are they some dregs from the past that can poison my present?
What I have learned in Al-Anon is to speak my true thoughts to myself. I see if they are real, based on the facts in front of me. If they are just something that I have invented based on the old painful stuff from the past, then I need to look hard at whether I want to believe that these emotions fit the current situation.
I don't want to live in emotional drama in which my thoughts are based on hating others or myself. I believe that I have a choice about what thoughts to accept as true and which ones are fueled by my past experiences that go all the way back to childhood. I am glad to realize that not every thought that comes into my head today is valid. Not everyone is out to get me or be a jerk. In fact, I think the opposite of that by thinking that most people are truly good and well-intentioned. If I take the time to think clearly without reacting, I get along with my fellows better, am more mature in my outlook, and see other points of view that I might not have even considered.
Thoughts are the shadows of our feelings - always darker, emptier and simpler. ~F. Nietzsche