Using Language to Claim Our Feelings, Rather Than Our Misfortunes

The phrases we use have a powerful impact on our thoughts and subsequently, our ownership of emotions. While it may not be easy to process difficult feelings or simply stop feeling down, we must acknowledge the way we are feeling before we can move forward.

Without even realizing it, we may be in the habit of using phrases that revoke ownership of our feelings and transfer that power into someone or something else. 

This becomes problematic when the one who holds the key to our heart is no longer around, such as with death, divorce or another loss.

Furthermore, language where we identify ourselves by our misfortunes can be detrimental to our emotional well-being. Rather than labeling ourselves by our tribulations (i.e. “my cancer”) shifting our words in a way that gives us control of our emotional state is something that takes practice and reinforcement.

There’s an important distinction between describing circumstances that happen to us, rather than those which identify us.

Forming our self-definition based solely on a negative experience diminishes the good in our lives and the positive attributes we have to offer the world. It puts limits on what we have permission to feel, and who we have permission to become.

By making a concerted effort to reverse the way we think and speak to ourselves, we can have a profound inward impact. This eventually extends outward on the future generations who are learning by our example. Journaling is a useful practice which lets us see our thoughts composed into sentences, providing key insight into our inner monologue. Reading past journal entries can help identify times when we unwittingly gave away power and stifled our ability to grow and thrive.

Take this simple phrase as an example, “You make me feel happy (or angry, nervous, frustrated etc.).” On the surface, this seems like a perfectly harmless way to express emotion. However, the wording implies that happiness is produced by the other person and given to us, rather than something we create from within.

Rather than owning our feelings, we are giving away the power over how we feel by our choice of phrasing. By stating that someone or something is “making” us feel a certain way, we pass along the rights to our feelings and any opportunity to change them.

A better way to think and talk about our emotions is to reword the phrase into something like, “I feel happy when I’m around you.” In this example, the other person isn’t directly responsible for making you happy. You are acknowledging the effect they have on you and describing how you feel. The happiness is your own and generated from within.

How can we resolve negative emotions and find peace if we believe our feelings are coming from an outside source alone? 

Choosing to acknowledge that your emotions are uniquely yours gives you the key to own your happiness. The power to change how we feel resides within each of us and does not need to be approved by anyone or anything else. It’s a gift we create rather than receive. The way we think begins with the words that we use—whether they are spoken out loud, written in a journal or quietly contemplated in our mind.

Actively pushing aside negative emotions is not the same thing as recognizing them and choosing to let them go. Suppression can serve as a temporary cover to make things appear better when they really aren’t.

Buried emotions are very different from resolved emotions. 

Burying our feelings breeds a deep-seeded uneasiness that can hinder our ability to fully embrace and enjoy life. By bringing emotions to the surface and owning them, we gain the control necessary to reach a sense of true contentment.

Whether you are burying negativity, or letting it define you, be mindful of the wording of your inner voice. Instead of describing yourself as a “widow,” “divorcee” or “ex-employee” be more descriptive in how you talk about (and view) yourself. You may have lost a husband, a marriage or a job, but you are still a complex person with a varied history and multitude of personal qualities.

The issue of displaced or suppressed feelings is not uncommon for those who experienced a difficult childhood. As a child, the responsibility of our care and wellness is placed on our parents. Once we become adults, it is our job to reclaim ownership of our past and how this continues to affect us and play out in our lives. Determining what we will do with the feelings left over from childhood can be difficult and confusing.

Perhaps you often feel disappointed or angry by interactions and memories of a parent. By not claiming ownership of how you feel today, it becomes impossible to resolve those feelings on your own. If the person is no longer in your life or not willing to acknowledge their contribution to your distress, you are without any means of healing.

Rather than asking the other person to grant you permission to feel differently or waiting for them to change, allow yourself the opportunity to take control of how you feel. That privilege is yours alone and the time to claim it is now. 

Employment is another example of how we can become wrapped up in our circumstances and let our lifestyle define who we are. If you believe that a job or income level you used to have made you feel important, you will be lost when the time comes to retire or if the job ends. That sense of importance shouldn’t go away just because you no longer have the position. A feeling of purpose and significance is something that was cultivated from within. Although our environment can influence our mood, we must empower ourselves in knowing that our reaction is ours alone.

In order to change the way that we process emotion, we need to change the narrative around how we speak about it. 

Words are powerful. Harness the power of language and self-talk to put yourself back in the driver’s seat and steer the course of your journey wherever you need to go. Don’t limit yourself to a negative headspace because you don’t believe you have the power to move forward.

Recognize that the power to take control of our emotions comes from our inner selves. Emotions are part of us, come from us and are ours to keep or let go of. Emotions are our responsibility to deal with, accept or change. A feeling or circumstance should never take over our self-definition. We are complex creatures, each with our own winding history and unique inherent qualities. Never reduce yourself down to a narrow and limited classification. It is possible to find light at the end of the tunnel. The power to do so comes from within and can never be taken from us.

From Grieving to Healing is a safe haven of support for moving beyond loss and grief.

Our mission is to walk with you, hand in hand, through the necessary action steps to actually “recover” from your grieving experience. We offer grief coaching and support services for individuals, groups, and organizations from all walks of life. We specialize in helping grievers and their families, and we strive to consult with, educate, and support the community at large including companies, organizations, schools, and religious institutions. Even though you’ve endured painful changes in the circumstances of your life, we extend our hand of support to you, and invite you to embark on your journey of healing.

Questions or want to learn more?

Email us at info@fromgrievingtohealing.com or call us at (310) 954-1996.

You can also schedule your FREE Discovery Call. We look forward to connecting with you and supporting your healing journey!

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