How one little word gives you permission to feel your feelings
From an article by Brickel and Associates
There's an important concept about how to feel emotions again safely – especially after trauma.
When you use the word “but” between two statements, it negates everything you say before it, while “and” allows you to be saying (and holding) both. “And” is a powerful word. As a concept for healing, it’s life-changing. Once you start to employ this concept in your life, the possibilities are pretty incredible. When so many are feeling numb and overwhelmed, “and” is more relevant and necessary than ever.
Compare these two statements and imagine being the recipient. Ask yourself: Which one feels more loving? More expansive? More comforting?
I love you but…
I love you and…
The first phrase probably makes you brace for very scary news – especially if you have a history of trauma. The second one probably feels much less worrisome. It may even feel comforting and reassuring. You’re far more likely to be open to receive the rest of the statement. There is a gigantic difference between those two statements because of one simple three-letter word.
Notice how these statements feel to you:
I love you and I need some alone time.
I’m sad and relieved.
I don’t want to talk about this anymore right now and I love you.
I’d love to join you and I need us both to wear masks.
I’m grateful you cooked for me and I don’t like mushrooms.
“And” allows you to hold both feelings instead of just one:
Happy and sad
Excited and scared
Disappointment and acceptance
Calm and anxious
“And” makes space for you to hold both truths at once. How to feel several emotions safely and simultaneously isn’t automatic: it’s something we need to learn. “And” gives us room to hold and notice all of our emotions.
Most of the time, we experience many thoughts and feelings at once. For trauma survivors especially, mixed emotions and messages can be hard to deal with. For example, it can be hard to understand that someone can need time alone and still love you. Because it allows emotions that may otherwise overwhelm us, “and” is tremendously important in healing from trauma.
Instead of believing you “should” feel a certain way, you can accept that you can feel angry, upset, or hurt and still be healing. It’s possible to hold negative feelings and still be healing at the same time. It can make feelings less scary. It means you can be uncomfortable and accept a compliment. You can express your feelings and still be loved. It means you can feel like running away and instead choose to sit with your uncomfortable feelings.
“And” allows you to be a trauma survivor who has survived. It allows you to be healthy and successful today. It allows you to have a past and live fully in the present. It allows you to own the title of trauma survivor, and perhaps even be proud of it.
Where in your life can you replace “but” with “and”?
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From an article by Brickel and Associates, 14/07/2021