Readers, please join me in welcoming Doug Craig and the first installment of his new column – “Free Therapy” – to anewscafe.com.
Deep down, many of us often wish we felt “happy” all the time, or at least more often than we do. Who enjoys feeling badly? Most of us long to be at peace and content.
At some level we know this is unrealistic and yet we strive for it. And when we fail, as we invariably do, we not only feel badly; we feel badly about feeling badly.
Some of us wonder if something is wrong with us. We feel uneasy or ill at ease or “dis-eased.” We amplify our negative state with additional negative thinking. Our stressed or distressed state will sometimes trigger others and if they take it personally, they may react with irritation or annoyance, adding to our distress.
Or, on occasion, if we are feeling stressed, anxious or down, we are more likely to react with frustration, anger or hostility. We might snap at others or perceive animosity or antagonism where it is inadvertent or unintended.
The underlying problem with all of this is our unwillingness to be uncomfortable. The minute we decide it is not okay to not feel okay, we will likely feel worse. Conversely, when we accept our emotions without judging them; when we relax with them; when we pay attention, listen and try to understand how we are feeling, we are more likely to feel better. Ironically, when we accept or feel okay about not accepting ourselves, or not feeling well, we are more likely to move toward feeling more content or at ease. When the judging stops, the relaxation begins.
Deep down, we all long to be accepted, not rejected; understood, not judged; forgiven, not blamed; and embraced, not condemned. We want that from others but we need it from ourselves.
The key is self-awareness. Can we accept the fact that we find it hard to accept or “be okay” with ourselves? Can we suspend judging, criticizing or blaming ourselves over the fact we relentlessly judge, criticize and blame ourselves? When we accept self-blame, we have compassion for our lack of compassion for ourselves.
All of this involves seeing how we see. When the internal observer sees the internal judge, the critic is exposed, not judged or criticized. And for a moment, the negative drumming stops. There is silence. There is peace.
Let the final word be peace. Something in you wants to say, “Yes, but…” Something in us wants to object and get back to work at self-blame. And as that happens, let the final word be peace. Each of us can feel like a mess inside. That is, after all, the human condition. Only enlightened beings don’t struggle with this stuff. And who knows?
Maybe they do, too.
No matter. Today and every day, every hour, every minute affords us these opportunities to observe our inner life without judgment.
We prefer to feel good, or feel better or happy, content, satisfied, fulfilled, joyous even. And we get there through our willingness to feel badly; our willingness to feel. When we are completely willing to have whatever arises for us at this moment, in this place, we can breathe around it. Accept this moment and all it brings.
Stop resisting. Relax and let it be. When you are willing to feel badly, you will feel better.
When you are unwilling to feel what you feel, it tends to get worse.
Doug Craig graduated from college in Ohio with a journalism degree and got married during the Carter administration. He graduated from graduate school with a doctorate in Psychology, got divorced, moved to Redding, re-married and started his private practice during the Reagan administration. He had his kids during the first Bush administration. And has done nothing noteworthy since besides write a little poetry, survive a motorcycle crash, buy and sell an electric car, raise his kids, manage to stay married and maintain his practice for almost 25 years. He believes in magic and is a Sacramento Kings fan.