Once of the first things I work on with my clients in therapy is their ability to identify feelings. Feelings are essential to our thoughts and actions and by identifying them, you can take the first step in controlling your anger, depression, anxiety, heck, your life! It sounds simple, and to the untrained eye may look like “not doing anything”, but the crafts, activities, and games I use with my clients are just part of a range of micro skills designed to increase awareness, empathy, understanding, and insight.
The feelings we start with are usually pretty broad: lots of “Angry”, “Mad”, and “Sad.” I try to introduce new vocabulary words, such as “Uncomfortable”, “Overwhelmed”, and “Disgusted.” This works…sometimes, until we all have a rough day and the only word we can use to describe it is “Bad.”
As a result of my training and practice, I feel I have become pretty familiar with my own feelings. I feel “anticipation” while waiting for a fancy invitation to come in the mail, “jealous” when my friends receives an award that I wanted, “resentful” if my professor adds an extra assignment at the last minute, and “intrigued” after I learn about new events happening in my community. I think most of my feelings are pretty similar to other people my age: “optimistic” on a sunny day, “attraction” towards Husband, “aggravated” when my car was towed, and “disappointed” when I did not get the project grade that I was hoping for.
From my past experiences, I think I can identify my feelings now. Like the feeling of “horror” when my house was broken into or the feeling of being “insecure” that caused me to buy a million makeup products or the feeling of being “eager” to go on vacation. I know these feelings. I understand when they come. I classify them. I know what my behaviors will be based on these feelings. I know how to change them.
Until I don’t anymore.
You see, lately, I’ve been having new feelings. Feelings that I haven’t had before. Feelings that I don’t know what to do with. Feelings of freedom, like I have the education to do anything in the world. Feelings of creativity, where I want to write a book or open a restaurant. Feelings of contentment, when I want to freeze space and time so that I can always be as happy in my marriage as I am now. Feelings of dread that I am getting older and my life may become boring. Feelings of restlessness to be done with school. Feelings of longing for a baby that I didn’t even know I wanted.
I haven’t decided what to do with some of these feelings, but I’ll keep you posted.
I guess identifying them is the first step.