If you’ve read some of my other blogs you will have gathered that my approach to dealing with unpleasant feelings is to embrace them, accept them, accept yourself for having them and have faith that they will flow and change. Generally just let them be! The important thing is not to block their flow by non-acceptance, resisting or suppressing the feelings or by holding on to them with unhelpful thought processes.
For example when you’re dealing with a feeling of loss you could block the flow with non-acceptance: ‘It’s wrong for me to feel like this’; resistance ‘I shouldn’t have to be feeling this - I want my old life back’; suppression: ‘feeling like this doesn’t get me anywhere so I’m just going to ignore it and get on with things’; holding on: ‘How is my life ever going to be good again’ ‘life was so much better before’ etc.
Basically I suggest that by being present and compassionately accepting with a feeling, it will flow and change and soon you will feel better.
However the picture isn’t always as simple as that. Sometimes a feeling can be hooked and exaggerated by what I am choosing to term as 'emotional interference'. What I mean by this, is when there are factors influencing your present feelings that have nothing to do with the here and now of the present situation. This could be a belief system that no longer serves you or perhaps the fact that the present feeling feeds into left over feelings from past experiences which were suppressed and never got to flow to their conclusion.
For example, sometimes if a friend lets me down, along with feeling understandably disappointed I may also experience emotional interference from my childhood feelings of not fitting in or belonging. As I’ve already worked with a counsellor and during my counselling training on these issues, I can easily recognise them as not belonging to the present situation. I accept myself for being disappointed and then I accept my younger self for feeling the way I did back then, and my feelings soon flow.
The first stage in dealing with emotional interference is to recognise it for what it is. Usually you can get a sense that the strength or quality of your present feeling doesn’t quite fit the present situation. Emotional interference may also be indicated if certain feelings regularly repeat themselves and you seem to get stuck with them often. If you have learnt how to be present and accepting in the here and now with most of your feelings, but something just won’t move then it’s probably time to look deeper.
As emotional interference is often stubborn and difficult to deal with it can be good to enlist some help with it. There are a large range of self-help techniques for challenging such issues but sharing with another person gives you an added boost of acceptance and understanding in the areas you are struggling with.
In the present moment though you can recognise that the feelings you are experiencing have an aspect of emotional interference; you can accept that emotional interference is a part of being human; you can compassionately accept yourself for the feelings that are appropriate to the here and now and for the extra elements; and you can put the extra elements to one side and resolve to deal with them at a more appropriate time. Follow through on your promise to yourself though, because if you keep putting it off, next time you need to put your exaggerated feelings to one side you might not be able to let yourself. You need to be able to trust that you’ll deal with them later!
Dealing with ME/CFS brings us plenty of emotional challenges as it is, if we can recognise and deal with emotional interference it will be a lot easier to overcome those challenges!