Please remember: Feelings Change.
Emotional pain can be as painful as physical pain.
At 2:45 a.m. this morning I woke my husband to help me place more Lidocaine patches on my hands. I have an extensive list of inflammatory diseases, nerve and spine issues, and another disorder treatable with weekly infusion therapy but prevents me from using the newer medications for inflammation. So, pain. Over the first few hours I had drifted off a couple of times to be awakened when pains shot up my arms and legs and set my hands on fire. Since midnight I hadn’t been able to find a position that wasn’t excruciating (and, oh yes, I take a boatload of what I can take for pain). I’d iced my feet, elbows, and hands, but numbness wasn’t enough to do it. Thus I’d pulled out my box of Lidocaine patches and applied them to my feet and hands. I covered all but my little fingers and outer edges of my hands, but taped up like that my hands were clubs. My spouse, as he has many times, helped me with the patches and only mildly chastised me for not waking him earlier.
I couldn’t imagine turning over much less walking. Was pain going to be the same for the rest of my life? My heart and brain were flooded with fear and dread. Would I never again sleep through the night? Could my relatives depend on me when they needed help? Were all the good parts over?
For what possible reason could I be sharing this intimate distress with you?
Because just maybe—one day when one person out there in the great cyber world has a really low time, a hopeless moment–that person might remember this crazy woman covered in white patches and ignorantly planning her future based on the pain of the moment. Maybe that one person can will be able to remind himself or herself that the Emotional Guidance System is a born liar.
The Emotional Guidance System instructs you to ratchet up your anxiety because you’re going to need all that emotion to save you from the tiger. Because you will always feel just as horrible as you do at this low moment.
Which is not a fact. What is a fact is that we will not always feel as bad or hopeless as we do in that low time.
Feelings change. In the ‘now’ I am not asking myself the questions filling my head at three this morning. I do not have the same level of pain. The Flatlanders are rocking out “Pay the Alligator” and a couple of dog babes are dozing across my feet.
I dragged you through this misery to make the point that you cannot allow the Emotional Guidance System to make your decisions. The Emotional Guidance System is hopelessly tied up in the moment. The Emotional Guidance Systems instructs you to respond as if the message ‘I will always feel this way’ was true. This leads to:
Making demands on others that only drives them away.
Exaggerating the effect the current situation will have long-term on our lives.
Undervaluing our own capacities to change the situation.
Compulsive habits–over-eating, drinking, avoiding follow through on important matters.
Blaming others—rehashing the list of those who’ve mistreated us and particularly the list of crimes of the closest person. Could be the target is our special person, could be the old reliable—blaming personal misery on the idiots in the other political party.
Blaming ourselves—rehashing our ‘list of crimes.’
Telling ourselves we are hopeless and not in control of our future.
Forcing contact with the person from who’d we’d most like to have reassurance—with demands that drive the person backwards.
And plenty of others. Feelings change. Wait them out.