Sometimes when people ask me what I do (admittedly, never a quick and easy answer) I want to say, “I translate people to themselves.” I help translate the feelings, behaviors and reactions that seemingly make no sense to them, helping them make the connections to where they’ve been, what they’ve experienced and sometimes even who they were told that they are.
For example: they feel anxious and easily overwhelmed because they were faced with handling adult situations as a child. The consequence now is that any seemingly overwhelming situation puts them back in that helpless child place. Or they feel depressed because they are listening to negative messages that no longer apply (if they ever did.) Or nothing seems right because it’s time… time to let go of an old hurt, times to grieve a lingering loss, time to get out of the toxic relationship, time to start the next chapter.
I’ve learned in my own life that my feelings are important messengers. If I catch myself suddenly running short on patience that’s a clear sign to me that something needs attention.
The only problem is that many of us live in a culture geared to helping us ignore our feelings. We can stay so busy that we seem to outrun them. We have lots of ways to distract ourselves from them… food, alcohol, drugs (prescription and recreational) worry (faux worry can be the useless distraction from real planning), television, pop culture… even religion can be a distraction. The problem is that these feelings don’t go away if we ignore them. They’re not like the snowbank that eventually melts, no matter how long it takes. They’re more like the pile of laundry that just starts to stink.
My family teases me that all I do all day is sit around asking, “How does that make you feel?” But really, how does it make you feel? Or more to the point, what are you feeling these days? Pay attention. Pay attention to what’s in the flow and pay attention to what’s out of whack. Listen to them. If you’ve a mind to do so, write a dialogue with that feeling and ask it what it means and where it comes from.
We have a great internal GPS system. All we have to do is pay attention.