I started this post in July of 2014. At the time it was called “Feelings follow thoughts,” because it had been a topic of much discussion with my therapist and I had briefly touched on it a little in a previous post.
There’s a saying (which the internet attributes to Henry Ford, so let’s go with that), that says “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.”
I used to think this meant that if you think you can’t you won’t try, thus confirming your “can’t” status. While that may very well be the case, I now think there is a deeper, more useful meaning to this quote. **I have to laugh at my knack for the dramatic… this is literally where I stopped two years ago, without making any notes about what my grand epiphany might have been, but thankfully I have some new insights to finish this up.**
When I was still in the beginning stages of my healing journey, my therapist was trying to convince me that the negative feelings I had about myself weren’t necessarily true, and they only felt like they were true, because I believed they were true. Let’s all say hello to my old friend Circular Reasoning.
I hated this idea for several reasons. 1. It meant my negative feelings were my own fault, because they came from my own negative thoughts. 2. I liked to believe that my feelings were my moral guide, as in: if it feels wrong to do something, it probably is. 3. I really didn’t like the idea that I couldn’t trust my feelings, because they were supposedly so easy to change (read: manipulate).
But in retrospect (present day 2016 at this point), having changed my thoughts and feelings a lot, starting to believe that I CAN, I recognize that negative thoughts protected my sensitive heart at a time when my heart wouldn’t have been strong enough to bounce back from being disappointed or broken. My brain processed and rationalized EVERYTHING, never allowing any of it to sink all the way into my heart, where I would have to actually *feel* it. Brain would just explain away the cruelty of the world. Brain would build up a wall of words for me to hide behind.
Unfortunately this plan wasn’t entirely bulletproof (obviously), because brain also grew up with the core belief that I was the problem. I was not good enough. I was not worthy of receiving the care and love I needed. I believed it was my fault when people abandoned me. I believed all the *I cants* and set myself up for all kinds of failure. So, some of that rationalizing ended up hurting my heart more than protecting it (which is why I had a therapist explaining brain science to me all these years later).
I see it more now. I still rationalize… a lot. I still go round and round with my therapist sometimes. I still try to find a way to avoid feeling the actual pain. I recognize now that this is an attempt to control my emotions, but some things just need to be felt, before you can really move forward and knowing THAT is half the battle.