Since I’ve been recovering from depression, I still have a difficult time, however, dealing with feelings of worthlessness.
Unfortunately, no matter how much I recover, I don’t think I will ever be completely free of negative thoughts or feelings.
This thought, in and of itself, is depression to me…
Something that helps me to make peace with this fact is to think of my negative feelings as a thunderstorm.
Feelings are like the weather; they come and they go and you can’t control them. The weather can change from day to day, hour to hour. And if you live in Ohio, you know exactly what I am talking about. If you plan a cookout or camp out, be prepared to schedule a rain date…ahem…sound familiar?
Guess what? You cannot control the weather. Duh. And guess what else? You cannot control your feelings either.
As much as we like to think that we control how we feel, we are just reacting to the “changing of seasons”, if you will.
Thoughts come and go in and out of our heads every second of every day.
You are more than your thoughts.
In the moment of intense feelings, what you experience seems like the truth. Your feelings, however, are not always the truth. Your feelings are real, I must make this distinction before moving on. Feelings are very real. How you feel is a reality that nothing and no one can change. But just because it is real, doesn’t mean it is the truth.
Your feelings are valid; they exist in reality. Yet, just because you have certain feelings doesn’t make them right (or wrong for that matter).
A symptom of depression is blaming one’s self for everything bad that happens. But just because you feel like you caused that ______ bad thing to happen, doesn’t mean it’s truly your fault. It is just an example of an unruly feeling.
And just like one adjusts to the weather, you can adjust to your feelings. You can adapt; you can come inside, turn on the heater, or put on a sweater. You don’t have to live outside in the cold and rain. If you have to be outside for whatever reason, you can at least carry an umbrella or wear a slicker.
I have a posted noted on my bathroom mirror that reads, “Thoughts do NOT dictate actions”.
On a personal note, that quote has helped me tremendously. Just because I feel a certain way and have certain thoughts doesn’t mean I have to believe in what I feel. If I am feeling discouraged and unworthy of life, I recognize those feelings and acknowledge that they are real. However, I know what I am feeling, however real, still is not true. Just because I really feel unworthy doesn’t mean I have to act as if I am unworthy of my life.
I know that I am a child of God and worthy and deserving of all things good. And with that belief in mind, I should act on that truth instead.
The same can be said for my ED thoughts. If I feel good, I don’t feel like I have to lose weight. However, the times when I am really down on myself, I feel like I need to start dieting again. When I am unhappy about something else, or I don’t physically feel good, I conclude that my problems would be solved if I starve myself.
Those tormenting thoughts about weight that never leave me alone, however real, are still just feelings. I don’t have to obey their demands. Instead of starving myself, I know that I am a temple of the Holy Spirit and I should treat myself with love and compassion.
I think other people might feel like this sometimes too.
We’ve been told that losing weight will make us happy. And most of us believe this lie to be true. When we are down, unhappy, or don’t feel good, we think we have to lose weight in order to get our peace back. And when we are happy, we can eat again.
You don’t have to earn the right to eat. And you don’t have to “make up” for the things to you do eat.
We’ve been told that we are unworthy of living life unless we comply with what society tells us we must do. No matter what you do, where you are, or what you are like, you deserve life.
Being aware of your feelings is a key to knowing how to treat yourself.
If you are not sure how to respond to your feelings, err on the side of self-compassion.
Have a nourishing weekend!