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Spam Filter for Your Brain Episode 8

Crying in train stations

I want to talk today about the benefits of feeling your feelings. Quite often when you hear the phrase "feeling your feelings", it sounds like hippie stuff that is all very well and good when you have the time for a bit of deep thought work, introspection. And I wanted to tell you a little story that happened to me yesterday about the practical uses of feeling your feelings and how, when we get our heads into this space of entwining our emotional well-being into our everyday life, the benefits of it.

So yesterday I had an appointment with the optician. And my eyesight has changed a lot since my first bout of COVID. And now I've had COVID four times. My vision has changed considerably, and I'm struggling with balance and spatial awareness. And I'm very aware that I needed to get this looked into. So I made an appointment with the optician I've been with for 20 years, near my old workplace. So it's my old journey into work. It's a journey I've done hundreds, if not thousands, of times. And because of what my body's up to now, I don't leave the house very much. I spend a lot of time at home and rarely go into town. So it leaves me with tremendous fatigue and a set of all my symptoms when I get exhausted.

So I went into town to go to the optician, and I arrived at the train station next to the City of London, a hectic rush hour. I'm already tired of walking with a mobility aide in a busy environment with lots of people and where people tend to barge into you you live in a larger body, people do that anyway. They think you can get through the same amount of space that they can and don't have that awareness of other people around them. I'm the only person wearing a mask because of my health and for the sake of the people. And I find myself in this hubbub, like a film scene of many exquisite people, all in their office attire, and I feel a little bit out of breath and exhausted and big and taking up a lot of room.

And everyone's dashing around me, and I suddenly realise I don't know where the optician is anymore.

And I don't mean I don't know where it is anymore like I need to figure out how to get there. I am cannot determine where I am. I know I'm meant to be going to this appointment, and my brain has just deleted that information. It's somewhere I have been so many times and it was really distressing.

It was distressing to know that I knew that I was on two streets, in theory, away from somewhere. I didn't even know which direction to face. I got myself really confused, and the more I saw that I should know this, the more my brain started to spiral on other instances, I've recently had the information I should know about people I love, their names that have gone out of my head when I'm staring at them. And it isn't the tip of your tongue "I should know that", it's vital information. I lose my cognition and the ability to form words. And it's a very distressing thing. And what I could have chosen to do in this situation, and many previous mes would have chosen to do, is to get panicky and think about all the dire consequences of "the fear of losing my mind" or losing my way, quite literally, of not having the information and the cognitive function to keep me safe, in what suddenly felt like a very unsafe environment. And I could have just spiralled of from there and done a whole load of very unhelpful things. I probably former me, would have exhausted myself more, like determining that I was going to walk in any direction and I was going to damn well, I find it, but I don't have the ability to do that anymore. Or maybe I would have decided that I couldn't do it and it wasn't safe and gone home. Or maybe I would have this.... It's hard to imagine myself in a new, you know, a situation I've never faced before. But what I realised was going on for me was that I was frightened, and I checked in with myself. What I needed was to acknowledge quite how sad this all is. And I'm out there trying to get on with my life in this new body and the new narrative it gives me. And actually, for a moment, I needed to stop and acknowledge that this was hard. This is not an easy scenario to navigate. And so, in the middle of all this commotion, I just stood and cried for probably 90 seconds. And in allowing myself the feelings that I was feeling at that moment, it came, and it passed.

And when it passed, I was able to go... I could look at a map. There was something in my head that felt like I wasn't able to look at a map because I was failing, and I should be able to retrieve this information or trying to retrieve it from my brain in brute force, like looking at a map was cheating or failing, admitting failure.

And once I allowed the feeling of sadness of describing this to be hard, what I was able also to access was I probably needed some compassion in this circumstance. And I was able to, with my soggy little face, look at a map and go, "Oh yeah, it's over there. I do know that." And so off I padded with the little shuffle that I do, and I was able to get to the appointment, and I don't know whether I would have been able to do that had I not allowed myself to acknowledge that this was hard.

And sometimes, we can think of feeling our emotions as an abstract concept that isn't necessarily relatable to everyday life. But when we resist the feelings coming up for us, our brains think there is an emergency because something is going on. It's trying to alert us to it, and we're not listening. And if we're not listening, it must be our real emergency. So it makes the emotion a lot louder, a lot bigger, and keeps repeating over and over on a loop until we listen. And what I could do by just acknowledging that these were the feelings that I had in that particular moment was I was able to allow them into my body, allow them into my brain, and by not resisting them, they passed.

It's like some people running, you know, rushing past me on their lunch break. They just passed so quickly, and I was able to find a solution.

I hope that this little anecdote is not the story of that. I've been doing this podcast, but I hope it gives you some practical ideas for applying these tools to your everyday life and why they're so important.

Because it gives us added resilience to deal with the outside world, and, I don't want your self-care tips to be something that is reserved for, you know, when you are out there meditating, dressing an orange, sat on a mountain, like in isolation. I want you to have self-care tools for situations where you are panicking in a train station in the middle of London; this is what I hope these podcasts have been giving you.

I hope it's been useful for this week. If you have 2 minutes to spare and would like to leave me a review on iTunes, that would be super useful because that means that more people will be able to be pointed towards the website. itunes will acknowledge that it's a thing that's useful to people, and it will start showing it to more people.

So if you find this useful, pass it on someone you know who might find it useful.

And thank you for listening to this week. I really appreciate the time you share with me and hope to speak to you soon.


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