Don’t Feed the Feelings

So, maybe I’m just like a walking Hallmark card generator (thank you, advertising degree), but as previously established last week in this ever-growing “LIFE, man” series (title pending), being an adult is super hard sometimes. And when the going gets tough, the tough/me make up a ton of motivational sayings to help them survive.

Don’t feed the feelings.

….and it’s really, really difficult not to try. Annoyance, anger, sadness, pity, self-loathing, jealousy, whatever–these are all feelings that easily flame from a tiny spark to a huge fire if entertained longer than necessary. And I for one feed these feelings until they’re torturous, terrible beasts.

Overthinking a tiny misstep at work until I’m certain I’m getting fired.

Hating myself for not getting over a guy from like 100 years ago (Spoiler, I’m Benjamin Button).

A slight annoyance at a friend turning into a huge deal.

Well, I usually feed these thoughts and feelings. But then I listened to a podcast one day that changed my perspective forever. Insert dramatic yet heartwarming music.

(Have you listened to NPR’s “Invisibilia” podcast? If not, you really ought to check it out.) I was listening to an episode called “The Secret Life of Thoughts,” which explained that according to one theory in psychology, the Cognitive Behavior Theory, thoughts…really don’t have meaning and should NOT be taken nearly as seriously as we do.

I mean think about it, how DO we know that our feelings are even true or logically sound? CBT says to challenge the feeling–don’t trust it. Test to see if it’s real. Because most of the time, feelings–and especially those terrible negative ones that always seem to pop back up in your mind when life gets a little off balanced– aren’t indicative of anything; They’re just emotional reflexes. Why spend so much energy trying to find meaning in chaos?

When people are in distress, their perspective is often inaccurate and their thoughts may be unrealistic. Cognitive behavior therapy helps people identify their distressing thoughts and evaluate how realistic the thoughts are. Then they learn to change their distorted thinking. When they think more realistically, they feel better. The emphasis is also consistently on solving problems and initiating behavioral change.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy defined 

I’m trying to not feed my negative, chaotic feelings. And you know what? Life has been a lot more peaceful and way less dramatic. Which reminds me of another phrase I’m coining…drama is dumb. (Just kidding, could you see that on a t-shirt? SO anticlimatic.)

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