I’ve found that people tend to begin therapy with the intention of feeling less; less pain, sadness, anxiety or fear. Once I start talking with folks though, it becomes clear they actually want to feel more; more joy, connection and fulfillment. It is totally normal to want to feel less uncomfortable, but when it comes down to it, we spend less time in uncomfortable emotions when we focus our energy on activating pleasant experiences.
The opposite is not true.
If a person is successful in their goal to feel less, they’ll likely wind up feeling flat, empty and numb. In fact, it is not uncommon for folks taking anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medications to report feeling flat because their medication blocks, or alters, the neurotransmitters related to sadness, stress and pain, but does nothing to increase their experiences of happiness, confidence, connection or calm, which is often what they were hoping for.
Emotions serve a purpose and when we practice treating them as feedback about the quality of our physical, emotional, relational and environmental system , we can make a conscious choice about how to proceed. Response will vary person to person, and is situation specific, but generally, emotions remind us to slow down, be a little gentler with ourselves, speed up and engage our body through movement, set a stronger boundary, turn in for insight, reach out to connect or do something that nurtures our creativity. When we set our intention to feel more, not less, we make meaningful progress.
So let’s talk about it, what do you want to feel more of?