For most of my life I’ve defined myself by my feelings. If I feel sad, I am sad. If I feel frustrated, I am frustrated. If I feel apathetic, I am apathetic. If I feel lonely, I am alone.
My mother used to tell me: This Too Shall Pass. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized she’s right about all things passing. But far from being comforting, this has led to an identity crisis. If I am defined by my emotions and my feelings are always changing, then Who Am I?!
I am all that has happened and will happen to and through me, and what I choose to make of my circumstances in each moment.
Who I am is up to me. Who you are is up to you. We not only get to decide, but we get to decide in each moment.
That’s kind of a lot of work, deciding who you are each moment. This is where (good) habits come into play. I want my life to be centered in gratitude, so I have a Gratitude Practice in the hopes that I will train myself to come back to gratitude more readily more frequently. I want to remember that my feelings don’t define who I am, so I have a new Mantra: I Am Not My Feelings.
When I remember that I Am Not My Feelings, then I remember that my feelings are just Waves — they come, they go, and I can ride them out knowing they will pass.
If they are going to pass anyway, perhaps I can help them along their way? Encourage them to move along a bit faster? Maybe by not indulging them, coddling them close to my chest, ruminating on them endlessly — wallowing, you might call it. Maybe by envisioning what I will be like shortly, once these current feelings have passed. Maybe by taking some actions sooner, that I would take once the feelings have passed.
Easier said than done, but practice makes habit.