Growing up, I remember seeing therapy or psychiatry or whatever it was, portrayed as someone lying on a couch next to a therapist and the therapist asks, “and how does that make you feel?” every time. Every scene. I feel like I remember it being teased, mocked, and imitated in a lot of settings.
But here today, in the present, I realized asking someone “how does that make you feel?” right after something happens or something is shared, is actually a legitimate question.
I think the reason it gets mocked and laughed at and not taken seriously is because we don’t give enough credit to what it means to be able to identify how we’re feeling.
Well, how are you feeling right now? Can you identify a few words that represent where you’re at?
Did you think, “I’m good. I’m okay. I’m surviving today.”?
Let’s try this. Think of it as a micro-meditation. Try to stop, take a breath, and look inside… how are you actually feeling right now?
Do you feel like your answer to the above question better represents how you’re feeling right after having access to the feeling words? Do the feeling words you chose feel specific enough to know how to move forward?
Sure, we don’t always need to know how we are at every step we take. But, say, in therapy, right at the end of a session I share something that makes me so angry that I start clenching my fists, have racing thoughts in my head, and my heart is pounding. Here are two scenarios:
The therapist doesn’t ask how what I shared makes me feel, or what sharing brought up for me. They do say “I hear you” or maybe try to quickly problem solve. Then the session ends. I leave, still fairly clenched, maybe distracted from my anger but it’s still stewing. I get home, stub my toe, and then blow up at my partner for something small.
The therapist asks how I am feeling after sharing or what thoughts came up for me, and I have the opportunity to NAME the fact that I am angry. Also, by being prompted to check in with myself, I noticed I was feeling scared, as well. We still run out of time, but the therapist is able to redirect me and suggest breathing a few times before my next activity (or whatever!) I am now more aware of where I am at and how I am feeling.
If I want to show up for myself and my loved ones, I want to make sure I am able to know how I am. Maybe not at every step, but after about two years of checking in with myself at least in the mornings, I have grown to notice and be more aware (and accepting) of how I am feeling in a more specific, less stressful than “good/bad/sad/mad” kind of way.
I am able to more easily come up with how to move on next. Am I overly anxious this morning? Okay. Have I made sure to eat? Was there a bill I didn’t pay? No? Let’s stretch or do some breathing, and make a note to do a brain dump ASAP (and do it.)
(Brain dumps aren’t the “end all be all” solution. In fact, they’re more of a tool. I will discuss brain dumps in another post.)
Maybe you’re not in therapy right now, and you’re simply chatting with a friend. You share something and notice that your stomach turns a little, or tears well up behind your eyes, or your throat gets sticky…
We can’t expect the people around us to ask how we’re feeling in a random moment, especially not when “good/bad/sad/mad/I’m fine” have been normalized as answers. Even if someone does ask–giving a more specific answer like frustrated and overwhelmed instead of “fine, I’ll get over it” — gives the person asking, the chance to determine whether or not to pry further, say “I hear you,” or ask how they can help support. Similarly, it might give them the comfortability to share how they’re feeling, too.
One more scenario, for the road!
Let’s say you’re sitting at your computer or on your phone and reading a post, tweet, you name it. And then that thing you just read *really* gives you all the feels. You enjoy that moment. That felt really great. Maybe you want to save it to share with friends or on your socials.
A few options come next…
Yeah. How are you feeling right now? Or the moment when you realize you just experienced a really nice warm fuzzy feeling/validation/affirmation, whatever it may be. Ask yourself, “How am I feeling?” How would you name some of the feelings you’re experiencing right now? In other words, how does seeing that make you feel?
Because we are giving ourselves and our bodies the chance to rewire a little bit. Remind ourselves that this is what this feels like, and that in other situations when we don’t know how we want to feel, we can remember this feeling.
Hopefully, reading this and downloading the Munny Mood Meter will be something you can implement to give yourself an opportunity to have an easy-to-grab list of feeling words.
Each time we even think of all of the words out there and start bringing more awareness to where we are at the present moment, we are creating new pathways in our brain. Remember, it takes time to create new and healthy habits like checking in with ourselves. Be sure to give yourself grace. You’re awesome.
Do you plan to implement some more feeling words into your life? Share in the comments below or tag me in a post. I would love to see the ideas you all come up with!