It’s Friday evening and I hear my inner critic saying, “You should go to the gym. Don’t be so lazy.” I counter with, “But I have other work to do at home tonight. I’ll go to the gym tomorrow.” The critic quiets down as I settle in and start typing up the minutes from a recent church meeting. Every now and again, he gets his two cents in: “You really should have gone to the gym” — “You’re getting really loose in the middle. Some abdominal work would help.” — “At least do something physical today!” I momentarily wonder whether it’s my critic I’m hearing or my body telling me it wants to move around. But, I decide it’s just my critic. My body actually feels sore from the workouts of the previous two days. *sigh* Sometimes it’s all I can do to just ignore that nagging voice.
It occurs to me that I often hear myself saying, “I feel fat”. Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the American Counseling Association conference in San Francisco where I attended ten workshops. In one of them, I was reminded of the non-feeling words that clients (myself included) often use as feelings words, “I feel fine.” or “I’m good.” or “I feel okay.” or “I feel fat.” Fine, good, okay, fat…these aren’t emotions. As a counselor, I aim to increase my clients’ emotion vocabulary to include more descriptive words: frustrated, annoyed, disappointed, hurt, guilty, disgusted, ashamed, embarrassed, frightened, exhausted. I even provide my clients with a list of feeling words to choose from. So, I’m wondering now what I’m really feeling when I hear myself saying, “I feel fat”. Could it be that I really feel…unstimulated? uninspired? guilty? ashamed?
I would bet, just from my work with others, that some of my readers use words like “fine”, “good”, “okay”, or “fat” when they really mean something deeper, more nuanced. If we can get in touch with the real emotion behind the vague label, we are more likely to be able to do something about it such as: use healthy distraction (writing, creating something, gardening, calling a friend); identify the thoughts that are running through our head when we feel that way; do some deep breathing while repeating a positive statement such as “I am doing the best I can”; practice “radical acceptance” of the emotion, telling ourselves that the emotion is not good or bad, it just IS.
What are you feeling tonight? What are some ways you can cope with those feelings?
Peace, health, and descriptive feelings!