While it often goes overlooked, there is a difference between our feelings and the thousands of thoughts that float through our heads each day. Learning to differentiate between the two can provide much-needed relief and allow us to lead happier lives.
Our thoughts are not always true to fact, nor are they always reflective of our wants and desires. Thoughts are simply a flowing of ideas, opinions, or beliefs (or something else even less significant). Because of this, it’s not uncommon for us to barely notice or pay attention to the numerous thoughts we have throughout the day.
"Black and white" thinking is also known in the mental health world as "all-or-nothing" or "polarized" thinking, a type of cognitive distortion. These types of thoughts often trigger feelings of overwhelm or worry. They can even contribute to mental health issues such as anxiety, panic attacks, and depression. When we see the world through this lens, it can lead to us viewing ourselves and others in low regard, decrease self-esteem, and promote feelings of hopelessness or resentment. By learning to notice these thoughts and challenge their truthfulness, we can greatly improve our moods and outlook.
Setting boundaries allows us to develop and maintain healthy relationships while simultaneously caring for ourselves. They can take many forms. Boundaries can be set around our time, emotional energy, physical energy, finances, sexual or physical interactions, personal information, or possessions. They may include: saying “no” to someone close to you rather than overcommitting your time, saying “yes” to time with friends on the weekend separate from your significant other, or setting time for your parents to call you each week rather than expecting you to answer immediately.
We all experience emotions, but we don’t experience all emotions in the same way. It isn’t news that we’re each built differently, but it can still be a surprise to realize just what that can mean. Even in situations when we react with the same emotion, our own experience can be vastly different than someone else’s. For people who are more sensitive to anger, happiness, grief, anxiety, or all of the above, it can often feel isolating and as though your reactions are wrong or misunderstood.
When we’re feeling drained, sometimes the best thing that we can do for ourselves is to get a good night of sleep. As tempting as it can be to stay up late binging the latest Netflix show, turning in early can do wonders for both our bodies and emotions. A hard time can feel more manageable when we’ve let ourselves reset. Sometimes, though, we end up laying awake for hours, tossing and turning throughout the night and into an exhausted and defeated morning. After a full night in bed, it can feel incredibly frustrating to begin the day feeling unrested.
You may be trying to prioritize self-care, yet feel stuck and like it’s not working. The good news is: you are not alone. Difficulty sleeping happens to many of us at some point, and there are some effective techniques which can help you improve your sleep and feel ready for the day ahead.
By learning how to label our emotions, we can learn how to take better care of ourselves—the simple act of naming our feelings has actually been shown to help us to feel more in control of them. This can be hard, though. Sometimes emotions feel too overwhelming to handle, and when this happens, we might try coping through unhelpful and unhealthy techniques like screaming at our partner or shutting down. This can lead to us feeling even worse. To move through these difficult moments, it's helpful to try to understand what it is that we’re actually feeling.
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Torie Cueto, LMFT
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist #106471
5230 Carroll Canyon Road, Suite 314
San Diego, CA 92121
Emergency Mental Health Resources
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
The San Diego Access and Crisis Line