…nt at the sound of my gasps and sobs echoing back at me from the phone line. “Ashley,” he started, “Do you know that feelings aren’t facts?” For a moment, I was more curious than ashamed. I asked what he meant. “Feelings are powerful,” he said. “Feelings give us information, and they can move us to action, but no matter how powerful they are, they’re not facts. You can feel like the worst person in the world. You can feel like taking care of everybody else is…
Ashley C. Ford
Your therapist was precisely right. Feelings give us essential information, but they aren’t facts.
Feelings often result in the process of “automatic thinking” that goes something like this: I spilled my milk. -> I always drop my milk. -> I can never do anything right. -> I fail at everything. -> I’m of no use to anyone. -> I might as well kill myself.
If one practices this pattern of thinking — as so many people do — a person can go through the process so quickly, they just skip from l spilled my milk to thinking of suicide, leaping all the middle steps.
While I’ve exaggerated a bit to make the point, this is why even the smallest of events can trigger feelings of despair.
When I hear my patients say words like always, never, everything, and anyone, that is where I raise an eyebrow and respond, Always? Never? Everything? Anyone? Words such as these are absolutes and thus are never true.
We never always or never do anything!
As humans, we have the capacity both to feel and to have rational thought. We can modify our feelings by using our feeling-thoughts into alignment with the realities of our life.
A therapist can help a person recognize this pattern, but it is an analysis we can continue on our own during the hours we’re not on our therapist’s couch.