Emotions generate a lot of energy! Therapist and author Tina Gilbertson, LPC, in her book Constructive Wallowing: How to Beat Bad Feelings By Letting Yourself Have Them, says “You can let feelings ‘go’ by feeling them fully. Once they’re felt, they can leave” (2014, p.129). Gilbertson presents the T-R-U-T-H technique, which helps readers allow and accept our feelings and actually feel them.
These aren’t sequential steps. Rather, she notes, they happen at the same time. As such, she suggests thinking of these “steps” as parts of a process.
When doing this exercise Gilbertson suggests having a comfortable place to sit or lie down, a box of tissues, and one or several pillows.
T: Tell yourself the situation.
Gilbertson suggests sticking to the facts without judging them.
R: Realize what you’re feeling.
Focus on what you’re feeling right now, in this moment. Whatever you’re feeling is perfectly OK. As Gilbertson says, “There’s no need to make sure your emotions are ‘correct’ given the situation” (2014, p.121).
U: Uncover self-criticism.
“We criticize ourselves to make ourselves better people,” writes Gilbertson. But this criticism only makes us feel worse. “And then we criticize ourselves again for feeling bad! It’s a negative feedback loop” (2014, p.122). Self-criticism sabotages our healing, and it encourages us to hide the truth from ourselves. Self-criticism also leads to anxiety and depression and is an ineffective motivator.
T: Try to understand yourself.
According to Gilbertson, “Instead of evaluating your feelings as good or bad, or yourself as good or bad for having the feelings you do, put your brain to work on understanding yourself” (2014, p.121).
Consider why you might be feeling the way you’re feeling. She shares this example:
“I’ve been hurt in just that way before. He poked a tender spot in me … No wonder I feel hurt” (2014, p. 123).
H: Have the feeling.
Sit with your feelings. Cry. Punch those pillows. Talk to yourself using kind words.
“As you experience your true feelings, let them matter to you as if you were your own dear friend” (2014, p. 124).
You might not feel better immediately after doing this technique. Or you might, but then a few hours or days later, you might feel worse. This is natural, according to Gilbertson. She likens it to kicking up dust. “Things don’t settle back down right away.” And, as Gilbertson says throughout the book, remember that whatever feelings you’re feeling, “it’s OK” (p.124).
If you are wondering more about this process or would like to consider counseling at The Refuge Center, give us a call at 615-591-5262. We are happy to talk to you.