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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Letterman

Thoughts From This Therapist: All Feelings Are Valid

The works in this series will always be the opinion of the writer (me, Rebecca). Therapy and healing is not a one-size-fits-all box, so keep that in mind when reading. Everything in this series will come from my experiences both as a therapist and patient. I hope it gives you insight into different perspectives, and gives me a place to share thoughts on topics I feel are important. Enjoy!

Feelings are feelings; they just are what they are. Yeah, sometimes they are based in irrationality, but they are still valid. All feelings are valid, no matter how big or small they are.

Each feeling has a purpose, and we get to explore that purpose and listen to what the feeling is telling us. Even if it is based in irrationality there is still a message to be heard from that feeling. What is that message? Well, to find out we have to talk it through. Explore the feeling to allow it to tell us the message. I know this may sound silly, and for some exploring feelings is really hard, yet that is what we must do in order to understand the message.

As humans we all have feelings, just some of us feel them to a larger degree than others. This is not good or bad, it just is. When we feel the feelings, though, it is in our best interest to take the time to listen to what the feeling wants us to know. Sometimes the feeling is trying to tell us we are in danger. Other times the feeling is letting us know that we have an old wound we have not yet taken the time to close. And there are feelings that are there to help us figure out who we are.

Paying attention to the messages our feelings bring allows us the space for growth and healing. When we ignore our feelings we are telling them they are not important and therefore telling ourselves that we are also not important, which is just not true! Sometimes we are conditioned to ignore our feelings based upon things that we heard growing up. Then we have to fight a little harder to be able to listen to the feeling and let it have space.

It is important, however, to determine if the feelings are based in irrationality or not. If they are then it is up to us to explore why that is so that we can help fight them with rational thoughts, before being able to see their message. If not, then we get right to work with what the feeling is trying to tell us.

An example of a feeling based in irrationality would be feeling annoyed or frustrated with ourselves because we are angry about something, and thinking people aren’t supposed to be angry because anger is bad. That is completely irrational because anger itself is not bad; the actions taken in anger are what can make things bad. Anger is just like all the other feelings we have, and it is just trying to let us know that we need to explore why we are feeling angry.

Let’s pretend for a minute that you are angry because someone is 30 minutes late to a planned activity. You confirmed the time multiple times and they said they are on their way but are still late and you just feel angry. Well, first of all this is normal, and second, it’s still valid because it’s a feeling.

What is that anger saying though? Are you disappointed that they are late? Does it trigger feeling unimportant because of past experiences? Does it trigger trust issues, again because of past experiences? Or are you concerned about them and their safety, but you don’t know how to feel concern without the anger?

All of these are possible reasons for the anger, and there are many more. But asking yourself these questions can help you explore where that anger is coming from and recognize that it is valid, whether rationally- or irrationally-based. Being able to explore in the moment will help you feel validated and also react in a positive way.

Now let’s say the person gets there in five more minutes and you’ve had time to process your (valid) feelings of anger. They jump out and are profusely apologizing because they hit a traffic accident that caused them to be late. They recognize that you have some feelings about them being late too, and are validating your feelings.

Please note all feelings, whether it’s sadness, happiness, anxiety, joy, terror, anger, elation, contentment, frustration, anger or any other feeling, has a root somewhere in you making it valid. When we ignore our feelings and invalidate them we only cause ourselves more stress. So I say let yourself feel those feelings and remember they are valid!

Are there other topics you would like me to cover? Any thoughts on this topic? We would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or find us on social media (@therapeutichealingjourney on Instagram or @llctherapeutic on Twitter).

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