How to Handle Positive Feelings When You are not Used to Them.

Believe it or not, good feelings can sometimes be uncomfortable, especially if you are not used to them.  There is an adage that addresses this concept – Be Careful what You Wish for, You May Get It. Many a lotto winner has blown their winnings.

Positive feelings such as excited, happy, intense, safe, close, successful, contented, warm, love, confident, touched, ecstasy (the natural feeling not the drug induced one) and others are normal feelings.  Most people are familiar with these positive feelings because they experienced them in childhood.  They experience them as natural so they enjoy them.   Sometimes though, when positive feelings are extremely intense, even people who enjoy good feelings may have difficulty handling them.

I remember when I had my first child.  He was a tiny infant sleeping in his bassinet.  I tiptoed into his room and peeked at him.  As I looked down at him a strong wave of love welled up in me.  I was startled and frightened by the intensity of it.

People who had troubled childhoods often have difficulty handling positive feelings because they have little or no experience with them.  Or, when they did have good feelings, family members, neighbours, teachers or other kids ruined them by mocking or trashing them. While people long for positive feelings and like it when they get them, they may still have a hard time enjoying them, especially over extended periods of time.

Scenario:

Jane started photography as a hobby.  She took a few courses and found out she enjoyed it.  She was surprised when she was encouraged to enter her work in contests by her instructors, classmates and friends.  She was unsure of herself and could not bring herself to enter in any contest.  But her best friend entered her work in a contest and to Jane’s surprise and delight she won. She obviously had an ‘eye’ for it.  Very quickly she became so successful that she was easily able to earn a living at what had been just a hobby and for fun.  She was excited and happy, yet also uncomfortable.  It was too easy.  It was too good to be true. She felt like she was in a bubble and that any day the bubble was going to pop.  She felt like an impostor, fearful of being found out.  She could not enjoy her success.

As she honed her craft, she learned why her work was so good.  It took a while but gradually Jane was able to accept that she had a talent that was not going to go away.  She learned to trust herself and believe in her abilities. She gained in confidence.  She relaxed and grew comfortable with the new feelings.

When things are going well yet you are unable to feel comfortable, breathe through the positive feelings.  Rather than deflecting or blocking the good feelings, stay with them for as long as you can and continue to breathe through them.  (A side effect of breathing deeply for a time is light-headedness. Don’t be concerned about it.  It’s from the excess oxygen you’re taking in) Over time the good feelings will become familiar, comfortable and enjoyable.

Relax and enjoy!

Dr. Bea

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