For the second time in ten days, I felt immense joy and strength and peace today.
This is not to say that for the other 8 days I felt like crap. Some of them I did. Some of them I felt just dandy. But I’m talking immense joy and strength and peace here.
You want to know the second thing I thought, right after I thought “I feel so immensely OK right now.”?
The next thing I thought was, “Oh shit! What if this feeling goes away?!”
And here lies the problem.
This fear that these feelings will go away are just as harmful as the fear that the bad feelings are here to stay.
Something I think I’ve written about before, but maybe I’ve just thought it in my head, is summed up beautifully in the following quote:
“Feelings abate on their own given enough warm attention.” – Boundaries by Anne Katherine.
Feelings are fleeting. They are not permanent states of being. That’s one of the reasons aiming for happiness is so profoundly misguided. There is no permanent happiness. There is also no permanent sadness. (I’d like to take this moment to throw a disclaimer in here that I do not equate sadness or even “permanent sadness” with depression. Depression is a mental illness and is much more than just a feeling.).
Just like bad feelings will eventually dissipate, as long as you don’t compound them by trying to ignore them, so will good feelings.
I think the greatest lesson people can learn is to embrace this ever-changing nature.
Feel sad when you are mad. Feel it fully. Feel it powerfully.
Feel happy when you are happy, embrace it, suck happiness dry, enjoy every. last. drop.
I realize this is easier said than done. I realize I say this after years of therapy, and 9 months of especially good therapy. But think about it.
Next time you’re sad, give it a shot. Breathe into the sadness. Let yourself cry, out loud, in an ugly way. Next time you’re happy, enjoy it, breathe it in, smile wide, face it head on.