In the course of Cognitive Coaching, I will often ask my Client,
“How does that make you feel?”
Frequently, I hear the response:
“I feel like I am not good enough.”
Do you see how they did not answer my question? “I feel like I’m not good enough” is a Thought, not a Feeling. A more appropriate response would be, “I feel sad.”
A feeling is an emotional state. Unless we are being ultra-mindful, we are often not in touch with our feelings. In other words, we might know that something doesn’t “feel” right, but we can’t quite put our finger on it. The good news is, with practice, we can learn to identify our feelings more efficiently and achieve better self awareness.
Sometimes, feeling our feelings, does not feel good.
So why should we do it? If we are not able to feel and process our feelings, we will avoid and resist them which could lead to bad habits. We often call these bad habits, “buffering” behaviors. These buffering behaviors provide immediate relief to an uncomfortable feeling. Unfortunately, these innocent acts cause reward centers to form in our brain. Overtime, a certain emotion can trigger your brain to have an urge to partake in a buffering behavior.
This is because our primitive brain wants relief and NOW! After all, our primitive brain only cares about survival; it does not care about the size of your Little Black Dress.
Here is an example: Do you ever feel stressed after a long day in the office and just want a glass of wine?
This is because in the past, your primitive brain has found temporary relief with a nice glass of pinot. So you drink a glass, or 2 or 3, and for the moment all is well in the world. The next morning, maybe you are disappointed that you drank more than you planned. Negative self talk often begins which then creates more stress…you are off to work in a subpar mood. Your drive home is even worse because now you want more wine, and you feel absolutely out of control.
We gain relief from buffering behaviors because these acts allow our brain to release a large hit of dopamine. Here are some examples: sugar, enriched carbohydrates, shopping, porn, and alcohol. Any behavior that creates a temporary feel good feeling could be classified as a buffer.
In order to dissociate our uncomfortable emotions with our behavior of choice, we must retrain our brain. In order to retrain our brain, we have to be willing to feel any uncomfortable feeling. This work can seem overwhelming, however, there are strategies to tackle any buffering behavior.
Here is a little a little more uplifting news. Most of us have certain feelings that we tend to feel most frequently. In fact, we have about 3 that are fairly common. If we can identify which feelings that we try to buffer, we are ready to enter the next phase of “feeling our feelings.” We all could use some work on being able to sit with our feelings instead of buffering them. What do we have to lose? The worst thing that could happen is that we feel bad- and this we can handle!!!
I specialize in helping others to identify their feelings, discover how they react to their feelings, and to guide them into processing even the most uncomfortable ones. If you want to learn more about the CBC (cognitive behavioral coaching) process, I would love to offer you a free consult to see if you could benefit from this work.
I want to share what one of my clients emailed me prior to the Christmas holiday.
“I realized something today- when I used to come home from work, with the decision fatigue all set in, my default was always binge eating- and it seemed like too much effort to make another decision. But now somehow just coming home has become my default. When I was driving home today the thought of binge eating to “celebrate” not having to work for 5 days and going home for Christmas came up, but now it seemed like too much effort to make the decision to binge. Like it seemed easier just not to do it. Which is what I prayed and prayed and prayed to happen so many times over the past 10 years- and now somehow it has just happened. Just like that.
That is seriously the best thing that has ever happened to me.
Thank you for that.”