How to Feel Bad and Like it
by my good friend Nisandeh Neta.
A trusted therapist I know said to me a few days ago:
“I think that many people who are suffering feel considerably worse simply because they’re suffering.”
“Well, we fear feeling badly. We feel out of control when we’re depressed or anxious. We then struggle internally. How can we ‘fix” this? How can we make this go away? When we can’t, on top of feeling depressed or anxious, we feel like losers.”
It got me thinking: how could you embrace feeling badly instead of running from it?
1. Have a Dark Day. Instead of trying to “lift yourself up by your bootstraps” (which seems impossible anyway, doesn’t it?), create a day based on how badly you are feeling. Do it up right. Eat dark food, drink dark teas. Play the saddest movie ever known and cry unabashedly. When people ask you how you’re doing, say “Not good.” Feel the freedom in being honest with the space you’re in.
2. Make your Goal List Easy. In this day and age, we’re often overwhelmed by the things that need done in one day. And then we have long-term goals looming overhead. Why not make it a list that a child could do? Include: “Talk to as few people as possible today.” “Wash and dry my favorite blanket then hide under it.” “Watch an episode of an old TV show.”
3. Dig a Little Deeper. Most of us think that the problems we’re suffering are based on what’s happening now. Allow yourself the freedom to look into your past, as if you’re strolling down a very familiar lane. No need to painfully revisit it; simply stop and look at your past like an old movie. Make a few quiet observations. Include good times too.
4. Play in the Dark. Think of the Addams Family. They had fun with their dark side. What can you wear today that showcases your misery? What depressing songs can you sing? Could you draw a sketch of that sad you, overamplified and cartoonish? What we resist persists. Today, embrace it, draw from it!