Identifying feelings

Wednesday morning. As part of the work I'm doing in my Lighter Way class, I've been spending time thinking about feelings. I have a real problem identifying negative feelings, mostly because I usually do something very quickly to mask or numb them, so that's what I'm focused on right now - identifying what I'm feeling. I'm finding it exceedingly difficult to separate anger from frustration or stress from frustration and I'm starting to understand that frustration is a secondary emotion while anger and stress are primary emotions (they lead to frustration). This might seem fairly simplistic to all of you, but it's really quite the revelation for me.

In essence, then, if I'm feeling frustrated then I know that's not the emotion that's causing me grief, it's just the reaction I've had to the real emotion at the heart of things. Taking things a step further, depression is a tertiary emotion that follows when you don't solve what's frustrating you - you give up in frustration with yourself and then get depressed because you've given up and can't see a way out. My teacher suggests that frustration is a sign that you need to get creative in solving for the primary feeling, and that makes a lot of sense. If you keep doing what you're doing in an attempt to get different results, frustration will definitely follow!

What I'm finding, as I try to listen to my feelings, is that there's a TON of stress inside. It's not that I take on too much, but rather it goes back to my procrastination problems. If I would just sit down and start on things, they wouldn't all pile up on top of one another and I wouldn't end up depressed so frequently. (Yes, I really do think it's the stress that leads to frustration and then - after I don't do different to address what's stressing me out - depression.)

So then we've got the procrastination to figure out. I've read books, I know all of the techniques, but I just don't seem to have success in employing any of them. Wait, I have to say that I've made very good progress in several areas as far as getting more things done and not putting off. For instance, I've been very good with my Junior League action items lately, I'm keeping up with my email correspondence for the most part, and (most of) my work action items have been completed comfortably before their deadlines. I'm using delegation effectively at work and that makes me feel really good because I'm not only getting things done (not being a road block), but I'm also helping others learn new skills or take chances they might not have done otherwise. All good.

Then I start delving into what isn't working. (It's OK to do that because I've already given myself the pat on the back for what's working.) Funny thing, that, because what really isn't working for me is when I'm faced with creating a written work product. This is true for my mid year reviews at work (yes, they're still not done!), my court report for Voices, and the questions I'm supposed to be formulating for the upcoming Elected Officials Breakfast for Junior League. Really, truly, sitting down to write when I have a deadline and expectations and rules and just seriously kicks my anxiety into high gear.

Why should I be anxious? Because it could be wrong. Because I don't know what to say. Because I don't like rules and expectations. Because I don't know how it will all end and I'm afraid I won't be able to do it.

No, that can't be right. I'm 38 years old and there aren't a lot of things that I'm sure of but I do know that I can write. Yes, but these aren't just rubbish writing...these are hugely important things that will affect other peoples' lives or careers. It's not just me that will suffer if I get it wrong and that just goes back to my generalized feeling of anxiety at all times.

This feelings thing is hard work!

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