and Managing Painful Emotions.
If you are a “sensitive soul,” depending upon your resources and circumstances, you may be faced with the dilemma of building, and then closing yourself in a walled, perfumed garden so that all the suffering, tragedy and injustice in the world cannot get to you. Or, on the other hand, operate as a “bleeding heart,” and possibly become depressed, immobilized, bitter and resentful, or otherwise find it difficult to function and enjoying life.
The problem is, dear one, that if I were a magic man, and were to offer you a magic pill that would 100% eliminate your painful feelings, you might feel that taking it would be irresponsible; you might feel guilty if you were totally unconcerned about all the suffering in the world. And in my opinion, that attitude has a lot of validity. You might feel that, as a parent, having zero anxiety over what your child is up to at 10 pm on a school night would be, bad parenting, a “total “dereliction of duty.”
Also, please understand that not everyone finds themselves struggling with your dilemma, and that’s OK too.
So, what do do?
Fortunately, that dilemma is a false one. You do have another option, as David Burns refers to it in “Feeling Great;” “dialing it back.” In other words, rather than thinking about it in terms of eliminating your painful feelings (either being flooded by 100% sensitivity, or completely insensitive to it), you can play around with dialing it back to a more realistic and less disruptive level. Rather than choosing to be totally “cured” of your painful emotions (as if that were even possible), you can choose to dial it back to, say 10% or 15% or 20%, or whatever. Dial it back to whatever level you feel you could comfortably live with to be a responsible human, while at the same time not allowing it prevent you from functioning, from enjoying life, from pursuing your heart’s desires, from having a few laughs, from maintaining meaningful relationships with family, friends and loved ones; from having hobbies and interests that are deeply meaningful and satisfying, etc.
Also, keep in mind, that if you are inclined to for “social justice” and other social causes, working it from a dialed-back position, will enable you to attack the problem from a much more rational, constructive and practical orientation that a full-blown emotionally-driven response might. Such “overly-passionate” attacks are often exhausting and self-defeating in the long run.
Now, keep in mind that this is CBT, not REBT. REBT has less tassels and embroidery, and gets right to the heart of things sooner. But if that doesn’t resonate for you, this model that Dr. Burns has given us can be a powerful tool for managing (not eliminating) your emotions. Thank you, Dr. Burns.
Khon Kaen, Thailand
Thu 23 Jun 2022, 11:39 am
Originally posted 2022-06-23 11:40:39.