Your feelings are not your failings

Matthew Hendricks
10 / 14 / 18

If you've been in cognitive behavioral therapy, you've read this before.

If not, keep reading.

The most remarkable thing I've learned over the last 6 months is how automatic our thinking styles become.  It's kind of a weird topic to think about – I mean, you're the one thinking, so naturally, you should be in control of those thoughts, right?  Therefore, you should also be able to control your emotions and handle your reactions – right?

So why can't you?

By the end of this paragraph, I want you to forgive yourself

As beautiful as we all want to be, we all have a dirty secret. And it was rotting before you had a clue it was growing.

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Photo by Elijah O'Donnell / Unsplash

You see, we're all made from the same primary elements eventually formed by the relationships with our parents. And even though the details of those relationships ebb and flow throughout our lives, the truth for us all is we have the same emotional needs following birth. So our shared experience is why the relationship of the parent and the role to the child is so sacred.

There's a bond between the skin and the core that takes the breath through the root and soul of every ancestor.  So while the relationship between each person is different, the heart of every connection between each parent and child is the same.

It's a perfect paradox.

Because how we differ all depends on the factors that surround us. Not a nature vs. nurture debate.  It's the crossroad center between the argument.  It's the practical implications of the discussion we're all living.

Regardless of our unique experiences, we all have a second truth in common - the troubles that worry us are the result of irrational thoughts triggered by events that happened before we were capable of rationalizing them. It's the way that you are wired multiplied by the means you were raised divided about the amount of regret you were made to feel about the events.  Alternatively, how frequently you've had to live with the frustration of re-encountering the triggers

It's unfortunate. Also, it was necessary. It's a circumstance of our ancestor's brain.

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Photo by Paolo Nicolello / Unsplash

From my youth, and well into my adulthood, I spent so much of my time criticizing myself with remnants of voices that left me years ago. I never knew how much time I spent continuing to let those feelings control me in situations that were utterly abstracted to their origins.

You see this falsehood. It's everyone's secret.

“Someone told me I wouldn't like opening. It's why I avoided opening.”

So, you never tried opening. But someone made you feel something.  And it wasn't your idea. You felt empty. But It wasn’t your thought.  And it was never your fault.  It's just how you developed.

Here's where we usually start:

  1. I thought something bad/sad/weird/scary
  2. I don't know what made me think of this, but it must be this vague feeling I have
  3. If I don't think about it, maybe the uncomfortable feeling will go away

I hate to be the one to tell you this, but you've got that backward.  All of your feelings are caused by the way you think. So the way you think causes you to feel the way you feel

Justify your beliefs - it's time to live your feelings

In a very literal sense, you can override your tendency to let your emotions control your life - you can rethink the way events cause you to react. You can learn to manage these events and convey your honest thoughts and feelings because -

“connections from the emotional systems to the cognitive systems are stronger than connections from the cognitive systems to the emotional systems.”

To say that differently, your feelings to your thoughts are stronger than your thoughts toward your beliefs.

In short, you can rewire your brain.  So the process becomes:

1. I thought something bad/sad/weird/scary
2. I can acknowledge the thought caused a specific feeling
3. I can now prevent myself from the negative thinking that caused that feeling in the future

That's the thing.  You don't even have to do anything with the thought or the feeling presently.  Just noting you had that thought to begin with sometimes is enough to either acknowledge how irrational it was – or dig deeper into why you were thinking that thought to begin with.  The ability to power your feelings is in your hands.

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Photo by Dollar Gill / Unsplash

If it wasn't for the tools I was given over the last year with Cognitive Behavior Therapy, then I wouldn't be able to correct my thinking habits.  This form of therapy gave me the insight and knowledge needed to fix myself all along.  Ketamine just gave me the path to motivate myself to do it.  

I used Ketamine to help get me there, but I started this journey long before with traditional talk therapy.

Still, without a positive experience, I sincerely doubt Ketamine would have the same effect.  Which is why you should focus on your cognitive brain first and foremost.

If you can catch your fantasies, you can pick your feelings.

In a very literal way, thoughts generate feelings.

Therapy, Exercise, Mediation, Mindfulness, Gratitude - all basic practices to help improve you Neuroplasticity. Like any skill, strength does not come without preparation.  Before long, those new practices become as automatic as the old habits.  But this time, you're a rational adult who can control the event.  

So empower yourself by training yourself.  Acknowledge what you're feeling. What were you thinking?

You're in control. 🤙

Tell me something you're afraid to say…

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