This letter is for anyone who has ever suffered from shame. I have been told that the main difference between shame and guilt is that guilt is feeling bad over something you may have done, while shame is the feeling that you, yourself are bad. Can anyone relate to feeling that you are bad?
Sometimes, I talk to my feelings in a letter. Other times, I talk to my friends about how I feel. It all depends. I am wondering what you do about your feelings. How do you tolerate them? Do you talk or work out, do you drink a glass of wine or take a bath? Funny movies or sad ones? Isn’t it interesting how life requires us to tolerate how we feel? Maybe some of you do the Wim Hoff cold plunge to feel better, while others may decide on a sauna or a steam room. Cryotherapy anyone?
I like to do both. Hot yoga and a cold bath. Can you relate to being in opposition?
Today, I want to have a dialogue with an abstract feeling to see if I can make sense of how I feel. And why. And maybe some of you who are reading this will be able to relate. Perhaps you can do an exercise (with me) that requires you to experiment with something called “Distress Tolerance.” Can you get a piece of paper or use the computer to write down feelings that make you uncomfortable? And then in another column, write down what you do when you have those feelings. For example. Here is your sentence: “I get mad when Lucy uses me like a sounding board.” Now it is time to respond. Write how you cope with your feelings about Lucy. It could be: “I go on Amazon and buy something.” Is that you? Or “I tell Lucy I am angry,” or “I go work out at the gym or take a walk.” Or “I call Janet and tell her how annoyed I am feeling.”
Once upon a time, before we were born, there was bliss and union. But once we are born, there is suddenly a sharp divide between us and the outside world. Who we are is one of the deepest questions that we will ever be asked to answer.
Who are we and why are we here? What is the meaning of life? Have you ever asked yourself the meaning of your life? I know that I have.
We Often Push Feelings Away
Sometimes, feelings seem overwhelming and almost too big. I try to push them away and numb them. And I’m wondering if that has ever happened to you. Have you ever felt empty and alone? And have you ever tried to fill that emptiness with outside things like TV, gossip, alcohol, drugs, gambling, or shopping?
Sometimes, the emptiness becomes too much. Other times, I crave to be empty, so I can fill myself up with positive things like good friends, movies, books, and romance. It all depends, doesn’t it?
Are you tired of self-help books? I know that I am tired of self-help books, but also know that I like them.
I am ambivalent and wondering if you are too. I am trying to sort out how I feel and who I am.
Aren’t we all living contradictions? Sometimes when I write or talk, my contradictions become tolerable. My feelings often become like painting, with shadows and highlights, and lightness and darkness of colors. And then I feel like my life has a beautiful arc – with highs and lows.
Sometimes, after a good conversation with someone, I realize that my tolerance for distress has gone way up, like the ascending notes on a piano. And then I smile because I have learned to tolerate myself.
I hope you know what I mean.