At No Fallen Heroes we are dedicated to the reduction and elimination of veteran suicide. Depression is on the major risk factors for suicide which makes it a focus of our attention. In life we have feelings. Some of mild and others are strong. We can feel happy or sad, energetic or depressed and moody. Pride is a nice feeling to have but guilt and shame can be damaging. Having feelings is not bad but how we deal with our feelings is important.
How We Deal with Our Feelings
We are all human, which means we have feelings, sometimes very strong ones. Rejecting, trying to avoid, or living in fear of our feelings often makes them worse rather than better. One thing about feelings is that they commonly get better and go away with time. Very often the key to dealing with feelings is not to try to eliminate them but to learn to live with them.
Life’s Rainbow of Emotions
A full life is generally full of emotions. Some feel great, some are more neutral and some feel bad. Our biological makeup causes us to experience a rainbow of feelings. These sort of biological traits have typically evolved and survived for good reasons. We generally try to do things that result in us feeling pleasant emotions and help us avoid feeling the unpleasant ones. Unfortunately, there are times in life where circumstances keep leading us back to bad feelings.
Everyone Needs a Slave on Their Chariot Whispering in Their Ear
In the Roman Empire a general who conquered an enemy, gained territory, and brought glory to Rome got a big parade and celebration called a Triumph. This had to be awarded by the Senate and was a huge deal. The general came through the streets of Rome and crowds cheered and called out his name. History tells us that by tradition there was always a slave who held a laurel crown over the general’s head and whispered in the ear of the general the words Memento Mori which mean remember you are mortal. We may all need this during good times when it seems that nothing can go wrong and make us feel bad. Likewise we need to hear the same thing when we are down, afraid, or needlessly preoccupied. Such is life and we are all mortal.
Happiness Is Not a Natural and Permanent State of Being
A brand of therapy called acceptance and commitment therapy teaches that the natural state of humans is not perpetual happiness. This means that when you feel down and worried that there is nothing wrong with you. The problem with trying to fight less than desirable emotions is now that you not only have that emotion but you also feel guilty, shameful, or inadequate because you do not feel perfect.
Deal with the Situation and Not the Feeling
Trying to avoid, cover up, or disguise a bad feeling generally does not work out well. What works it to analyze why you feel afraid, sad, or apprehensive and then deal with that. Because it can take some time to change or deal with situations that lead to negative feelings, a person needs to get used to those feeling and use them as a reminder to keep working on a solution while, as the same time, leading a full and useful life.
Trust Your Gut or Trust Your Intelligence and Reason?
Sometimes we find ourselves experiencing strong emotions that were triggered by dramatic events. There is a saying that it is best to “trust your gut” in regard to what you do next. This is the point at which a person needs to remember that strong feelings are followed by less strong feelings and that these feelings are often not a good guide to actions. These are the times when a person needs to think about what they would do or say about a given situation if they did not feel the way they currently do. Ideally one would talk to a friend or family member and get their take on things. Then the best idea is to follow the course of action that one would take if strong feelings were not part of the issue.
The point of all this is that feelings are not bad, only actions driven by feelings when those actions are excessive, inappropriate, or dangerous.