F.A.C.E. Your Feelings: How to Cope with Mixed Emotions


Mixed_Feelings_
Shop this illustration in the print shop!

 

On the last day of the year, I've found myself reflecting on the past twelve months and, in particular, the ebb and flow my relationships. While reflecting, I realized I was trying to fit my relationships (and people!) into neat little boxes, labeled "GOOD" or "BAD," and it just wasn't working out. Because, as I'm sure you know, relationships are complex. They don't always fit clearly into boxes. They can't always be labeled clearly.

My feelings about most people, even those I love dearly, are mixed. For someone like me, who really likes to identify and label things in order to better analyze and understand them, this can be tricky. So, I decided to do what I always do when confronted with trickiness: write about it! I sat down this morning to write about the idea of mixed feelings and realized, ultimately, that it doesn't have to be a negative thing. Sure, it would be great if we could identify every person in our lives as "good" or "bad" so that we'd know who to surround ourselves with, but life -- and people! -- don't work like that. 

Like it or not, mixed feelings are a part of relationships, so we might as well learn to deal with them the best we can! I came up with a little method I like to call F.A.C.E. that can help you (and me!) cope with the complicated mess of mixed feelings. This is especially useful for people you love and interact with often (as those are the people we often have the most complex relationships with!), but I bet it can work pretty well for new relationships as well as a way to figure out how you really feel about a person you're just getting to know! 

 

FIGURE OUT THE FEELINGS

First and foremost, you have to figure out what you're feeling! This may sound obvious, but when you spend a lot of time with someone or have known them for a long time, sometimes we don't even pay attention to how we feel about them. Figuring out precisely what you feel is essential for coping with the mixed emotions. There are many different ways to feel about others, but here's a list of some emotions you might consider while figuring out your feelings (note: lots of these words aren't technically considered emotions in the psychological sense, but I find these words helpful when trying to figure out feelings):

  • Admiration
  • Affection
  • Amusement
  • Anger
  • Awe
  • Bitterness
  • Bliss
  • Boredom
  • Calm
  • Comfort
  • Contentment
  • Desire
  • Disgust
  • Distain
  • Distrust
  • Envy
  • Excitement
  • Fear
  • Frustration
  • Gratitude
  • Happiness
  • Hate
  • Hope
  • Hurt
  • Interest
  • Irritation
  • Jealousy
  • Joy
  • Kindness
  • Love
  • Lust
  • Peace
  • Pity
  • Pride
  • Rage
  • Relaxed
  • Resentment
  • Sadness
  • Safe
  • Secure
  • Serenity
  • Shame
  • Surprise
  • Tenderness
  • Trust
  • Unsafe
  • Wonder

 

ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR EMOTIONS

Next, it's important to pay attention to what's happening when you're actually interacting with that person. It's one thing to sit down alone and consider how a person makes you feel, but it's quite another to tune into it in the moment. Here are three questions to consider when contemplating mixed emotions: 

  1. How do I feel when I think about spending time with them? 
  2. How do I feel while I'm spending time with them? 
  3. How do I feel after I've just spend time with them?

There is likely more than one answer to these questions depending on the day and circumstances, but paying attention to these three questions frequently will give you a better sense of how this person makes you feel overall and can clue you into nuances about the relationship that you might not have otherwise realized. 

 

CONSIDER YOUR OPTIONS

After you've given consideration to how you feel about the person generally and how you feel in specific situations, before, after, and during interactions with this person, now it's time to go a little further and consider the big question: So what? You've now got a pretty good idea of what you feel about this person, but now you have to consider what this means. Understanding the mixed feelings you have usually will lead to one of three conclusions: 

  1. This person is no good for me and I should spend less time with them. 
  2. This person is good for me and I should spend more time with them. 
  3. This person is both good and bad for me and I should be mindful of the time spent with them. 

Those are pretty much the options you have when dealing with a relationship, which leads us to the last step...

 

EMBRACE CHANGE OR ACCEPTANCE

Recognizing your options (see 1-3 above) doesn't mean that you're actually going to take action, which is where this next step comes in. You have two choices: embrace change (if necessary) or accept things as they are, for better or worse. Sometimes, after going through these steps, you might come to the conclusion that someone is no good for you but you still might want to spend lots of time with them. That's up to you, but if you choose that path, you must accept the consequences of it. On the flip side, if you find that change (spending more or less time with someone) is necessary, it's up to you to embrace -- and perhaps initiate -- that change. Whatever the situation, it generally comes down to one of two options: change or accept. 

 

Most of us probably run through the F.A.C.E. method in our subconscious without even realizing it, but taking the time to really deal with mixed emotions and actively choose an outcome is empowering, even if we don't always choose the thing that's best for us. There's something powerful about making a choice -- even the wrong one -- rather than just floating along and waiting for something to happen. Yes, there are two people in every relationship, but the only one you can control is yourself, so you might as well take charge of your feelings and actively make some choices, especially as we're heading into a new year! 

 

PPGTL-Footer Love-Self-Footer Find-Self-Footer


 

 


8 Things to Get Rid of Before the New Year

 

Positively Present Letting Go

 

In last week's post, I wrote about 5 ways to prepare for 2019, and this week I wanted to dive a bit deeper into the "clear out your clutter" point because, while you certainly don't need the start of a new year to declutter and simplify your life, sometimes the change of a date on the calendar can be all the inspiration you need to make positive changes. Plus, there's something immensely satisfying about kicking off a new year with a (somewhat) clean slate! 

There are obviously tons of decluttering posts online, but here are some of the things I think you should seriously consider ditching before 2019. Decluttering might sound like a luxury task -- something you do whenever you have the time -- but getting rid of what you don't need can free up not only physical space, but also mental and emotional space as well, allowing you to fill it with things, people, and experiences that bring you joy. So, tempting as it might be to say, "Who has time to declutter during the busiest time of the year!," keep in mind that taking the time to do it now will help you in more ways than you might realize in the year to come. 

 

ONE-SIDED RELATIONSHIPS

Are there any relationships in your life where you're doing all the work? Are you always the one reaching out, suggesting plans, texting first? People and relationships are complex so sometimes there's a reason for you initiating (perhaps a friend is super anxious or shy, for example), but, more often than not, if there's a noticeable imbalance, you might be better off with out the weight of that relationship on your shoulders as you head into the new year. You might not be able (or want) to end it completely, but you can at least pull back and expend your energy on more balanced interactions.  

 

CLOTHING YOU NEVER WEAR

This is an obvious decluttering go-to, but it's popular for a reason. With the rise of fast fashion, many of us have tons of clothes we never wear just hanging in our closets. Not only does this take up lots of space, but there are so many people who would love to wear the items that no longer interest you! Host a clothing swap with friends if you have the same styles and similar sizes, or, better yet, donate what you don't need or like to those in need. Just thinking of the joy you'll bring to someone else can be the motivation you need to finally clear out that lingering clutter! 

 

ANY "JUST IN CASE" ITEMS

And, speaking of lingering clutter... get rid of all of the items (clothing, kitchen gadgets, accessories, etc.) that you've been hanging onto "just in case." I used to hang on to so many things because I thought that I might need them one day, but, after overcoming this mindset and becoming super good at getting rid of things, I've only encountered maybe one or two times where I've thought, "I wish I had kept that!" I know it's hard to imagine, but once you get rid of the "just in case" items you've been keeping, you won't miss them -- and, by giving them away or donating them, you'll be sharing them with someone else who actually will put them to use.

 

LINGERING TO-DO TASKS

You know that thing on your to-do list that you keep writing down but never doing? Now's the time to either do it or get it off the list. Either accept that you're not going to do it -- after all, if you haven't done it yet, it's not looking great -- or do it right now. If it's appointment you've been putting off, schedule it. If it's a call you've been meaning to make, pick up the phone. If it's something that can't be done it one sitting, at least take the first step to get the ball rolling and break it down into smaller, actionable tasks that you will actually do. 

 

SUBSCRIPTIONS YOU DON'T USE

Subscription services -- and boxes -- are all the rage now, but are you actually getting a bang for your buck? Look through anything you're subscribed to -- magazines, TV or music accounts, monthly boxes, etc. -- and make sure you're actually using and enjoying them. These monthly things are easy to forget about (or think, "I should cancel that," and not actually take the time to do it), but if you're not using them, get rid of them before the new year begins. (And, with that extra money, consider supporting creatives you enjoy via sites like Patreon!)

 

BOOKS YOU WON'T READ

If you're a book lover, you probably have a few tomes on your shelf that you want to read, but know you actually won't read. Often these are books we've picked up because we thought we should read them -- the classics, those highly recommended by others, etc. -- but if you've had it on your shelf for awhile and haven't read it, consider donating it to your local library. That way, if you do decide you want to read it some day, you can check it out! This year I've personally gotten into the library big time and it's such an amazing way to get tons of books -- for free! Consider taking advantage of the library in the year to come and you won't have extra books on the shelf come next December!

 

EXPIRED FOOD + MEDICATIONS

We often notice expired food and medications when we go to eat/use them, which is precisely the most inconvenient time to be finding out that they're not good! Go through your fridge and cabinets at the end of the year and get rid of anything that's expired, taking note of anything you might need to pick up to have on hand for the year to come. If you come across food that's still good but that you know you won't eat, see if you can donate it to a local charity so that someone else can enjoy it rather than just throwing it in the trash. When it comes to medications, check online to see the best and safest way to dispose of them.

 

NEGATIVE SOCIAL ACCOUNTS

Do you follow any social media accounts that make you feel unhappy, angry, worthless, or negative? Now is the time to unfollow them! I wrote about this in Inspired Unfollowing: A Week of Conscious Content Choice, and it's still as relevant as ever. You are not required to follow any accounts that bring you down and, now, with Mute options on most platforms, you can silence them even if you don't feel right unfollowing (like, for example, a family member). Most of us spend a ton of time on social media, which is why it's so important to go into the new year with a positive and productive collection of accounts in your feed. Obviously not every account needs to make you feel pure joy, but if you have some in your feed that are causing you serious mental anguish, get rid of them! 

 

 

These are just a few of the many areas of your life that might need some decluttering before the new year begins. Everyone's decluttering needs are different so if some of these don't apply to you, try to think about the areas of your life where you feel frustrated most often. Frustration and stress can be a result of having too much of what you don't need -- and that includes not only things but people, activities, expectations, etc. If you're not quite sure what you need to get rid of for the new year, pay attention to where and when you feel the most stressed and ask yourself, "What could I remove from this situation to make it easier?" (And, remember, sometimes that thing you need to remove is your own mindset or expectations!)

 

 

PPGTL-Footer Love-Self-Footer Find-Self-Footer


 

 


Two Little Words That Make A Big Difference


Right_Now

 

As someone who spends a lot of time writing (and thinking about) words, it's not unusual for me to stumble upon new revelations about them, but recently I had a realization about two words that make a really big impact: right now

I frequently find myself making sweeping statements -- things like "I'm so stressed!" or "I'm obsessed with [insert current obsession]!" or "I can't live without [thing I didn't even know about a year ago]!" or "I'm so upset with [irritant-of-the-moment] -- and, while those are partially due to my flair for making dramatic proclamations, I don't think I'm the only one who makes broad statements like these. 

The thing is, sentences like the ones above (and, to be honest, most sentences) are only true right now. Sure, they might be true in the future, but that's not a given. And, yes, they might have been true in the past, but so was the statement "I can only drink from a bottle," and (hopefully...) that's no longer true. The only time we can be absolutely certain of is right now. The only statements that are 100% true are the ones that occurring in this moment, which is something most of us frequently forget. 

I spend a lot of time trying to stay present, but the truth is: the only thing we ever are is present, like it or not, and using these two magical little words -- "right now" -- can transform how we perceive the present. It might seem minor, but I actually feel differently when I say, "I'm so stressed," instead of, "I'm so stressed right now."

Tacking those two words on the end of a sentence might seem silly, but semantics matter. Adding the "right now" to most sentences can have one (or more!) of the following impacts...

 

  • Adding "right now" can reassure you that a bad situation you're in isn't forever
  • Adding "right now" can prompt you to appreciate a good situation you're enjoying
  • Adding "right now" can bring you back to the moment (countering anxious thoughts!)
  • Adding "right now" can inspire you to begin again or do things differently
  • Adding "right now" can remind you that just because it's not now doesn't mean it's never
  • Adding "right now" can inspire you to focus on the task that's right in front of you
  • Adding "right now" can make huge projects or tasks seem less daunting
  • Adding "right now" can boost your enjoyment of a moment that won't last forever
  • Adding "right now" can allow you to mentally step back from pointless worrying
  • Adding "right now" can give your full attention when engaging with others
  • Adding "right now" can help you relax when you're feeling very overwhelmed
  • Adding "right now" can invigorate self-compassion and cut down on guilt 
  • Adding "right now" can maintain self-control and more easily overcome cravings
  • Adding "right now" can mitigate feelings of physical pain by easing mental suffering

 

To be fair, most of these things are benefits of simply being fully present in the moment, but knowing we should be present and actually being present are two very different things. For some reason, adding "right now" seems to work really well for me when it comes to triggering me to be in the moment. Here are just a few ways I've used it this week (and how it's helped). These examples are all kind of frivolous, but it worked for much more intense thoughts as well! 

 

What I Initially Thought   How I Felt When I Added
"Right Now"
How I Felt
"I'm spending way too much time on Instagram." Annoyed that I'm wasting my time on social media; frustrated that I can't stop scrolling; distressed that I can't find a way to make a living from my art that others seem to love "I'm spending way too much time on Instagram right now."

 

Still annoyed, but hopeful I won't always spend so much time on it; inspired to stop scrolling because I realized I can change; stopped identifying my current action as a guaranteed future state

 

"I'm so happy to be here in my room with a new book, cozy on a rainy day!"

 

Comfortable and relaxed, but distracted by the to-do list I wasn't tackling; worried I should be out with friends on a Saturday night instead

 

"I'm so happy to be here right now in my room with a new book, cozy on a rainy day!"

 

Grateful for the alone time I so desperately craved after socializing all day; engrossed in my book and assured that I'd tackle to-do's tomorrow; reminded that I often long to be in bed with a book when I'm out and about 

 

"I'm so overwhelmed by all of the things I have to get done this week!" 

Overwhelmed (obviously); stressed and anxious about the lengthy to-do list that seems to be never-ending; tempted to lie down and do none of it

"I'm so overwhelmed right now by all of the things I have to get done this week!" 

 

Still a bit frazzled by the to-do list, but reminded that I'll soon have the tasks done (it's always more stressful to think of them than do them!); grateful for projects that bring in money and for the personal to-do's that, while annoying at the time, will bring my future self (and others!) joy

 

 

"I can't stop eating these delicious but terrible-for-me snacks!"

Frustrated with my lack of self-control; angry with myself for buying the snacks in the first place; envisioned myself unable to ever stop eating said snacks, stuck in and endless snack-and-shame spiral "I can't stop eating these delicious but terrible-for-me snacks right now!"

 

Reminded that guilt is a waste of time and I should either enjoy the snacks or put them away (which I did!); felt lucky to have snacks (affording groceries isn't a given for me!); made aware that my future self could be someone who doesn't eat such unhealthy snacks (unlikely, but possible!)

 

 

Hopefully these little examples inspire you to give "right now" a try and see if those two little words motivate you to return to the present the way they have for me! It might seem small, but staying present is hard and you never know what little thing will help make it easier for you. It's cliche to say, but there's truth in the idea that every second is a chance to turn your life around. Your whole existence is just a bunch of choices you make, and you can change at any moment. It's not often easy to do, but the first step is paying attention to what you're doing now, how it's making you feeling, and deciding if it's what you want to be doing in the future. Your "right now" is always up to you! 

 

PPGTL-Footer Love-Self-Footer Find-Self-Footer