We tend to not be the best at identifying our true feelings. When asked about our feelings, most people will usually say they feel: bad, sad, mad, good, or fine. But underneath “good, bad, sad, mad, or fine” are many words that better describe how we feel. Taking the time to slow down and identify what we are really experiencing can help us feel better and can improve our communication and relationships with others.

Once you identify what you’re really feeling, it might give you insight into how to ask for what you really need. For example. I feel mad. But what I’m really feeling is vulnerable, unworthy, or unsafe.  What I need because I feel worthy is for you to say “it’s not your fault and I love you” so I can feel better.

If I stopped at mad, I might not be able to find out how to really address the negative things I’m feeling. When you’re going through something difficult, it’s hard to think positively. If you’re already feeling depressed or anxious, it’s even harder! You might have a hard time noticing anything good about the situation, or about your life.

Unfortunately, that puts you on track for a downward spiral. Thinking positively not only feels better than thinking negatively, but it also helps you find ways to improve your situation! Of course, it’s easier said than done. Here are some quick steps you can take to start reframing those negative thoughts:

  1. Identify what’s going on. What’s making you feel bad right now? Maybe it’s a situation, or a negative thought you keep struggling with.
  2. Reframe. Even though the situation is hard, is there something you have learned from it or some other silver lining? If you could go back and change the original thought, what’s a healthier thing you can say to yourself? For instance, if you’ve just lost a loved one after they have been extremely sick, does it feel healthier to think about their death as an end to their pain?
  3. Practice gratitude. Are there other things going on in your life that you are thankful for? This doesn’t have to be related to the situation you’re focusing on. For instance, you can be thankful for your good health, having a stable home to live in, or a recent promotion at work.
  4. Once you’ve found some positives, remind yourself! How can you reinforce your reframed thoughts and remind yourself of what you are thankful for? Make a list of ways. For example, put them onto post-it notes and stick them in places around your house as visual reminders.

Of course, counseling is a place to work out those struggles you are facing, but we love to hear about the positives you are experiencing too! At your next session here at Mended Hearts, start your time with telling your counselor three good things that have happened since they last talked to you!