This is just a reply to a post on a Facebook men’s group. It is rather off-the-cuff, but I hope some might find it useful.
The original poster said: ” I have just been dumped, I am depressed…”
One of my biggest problems in life, especially as a young man was that I wasn’t particularly good at identifying my feelings. I felt, but I could not label or verbalize them. Doing so is a skill. Women discuss feelings all the time, thus, though simple practice, tend to become skillful and identifying and verbalizing them. Men have less of a tendency to do so, in no small part due to our respective socialization. I claim that doing so provides clarity, which allows us to have a direct impact on the quality of our lives and relationships as a whole. When you’re clear on what you feel, you become clearer on what you think. Emotional awareness is a life-enhancing power.
Feelings don’t just arise, they are a by-product of your thoughts. If this woman were a psychopathic killer that had been ripping you off for year and torturing you, I bet that you would not feel “depressed” when she left, you’d likely feel relieved.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
Why did I choose the word “depressed?”
Is this even accurate? Might I instead feel rejected?
Might I feel shame, embarrassment, humiliation?
Am I responding to the event, or am I anticipating some negative social response. (Such as judgement, which often brings shame, humiliation, etc.)
Could this merely be insecurity? (A sense of insecurity only arises when one feels one has no control.)
Might I be feeling sorrow? Loss? Of what?
Could it be fear? Or loneliness?
Am I reacting to someone leaving me, or to someone who was merely putting gas into my own emotional tank?
What specific emotional need did this person fulfil for me? Can I do that for myself?
If not, is there another that can?
Am I accepting some form of belief that another’s choice means something about me?
Is it about her leaving, or what I think her leaving means to me?
Do I actually feel this, or do I believe that I’m supposed to? (I once acted jealous without actually feeling jealous, because that’s what I thought the correct response was supposed to be.)
You may be experiencing several things. Don’t just vaguely look at a generally pile-shaped thing. See that it is made up of individual jelly-beans, sort them out, then ask yourself “How did this get here?” And more importantly: do I want to eat any more of these?
The point of my questions are to get you to sort though your stuff, and identify it. By identifying certain feelings, they’ll point to things that you might not have noticed that you were thinking, and thus, gives you the opportunity to adjust your thoughts to something more useful.
It took me a while to match up my experiences with a verbal description, but once I did, I learned that there is a “structure” to emotions. When one can identify an emotion, say, anger. One recognizes that this is a by-product of rules being violated. We can look at our “inner rules” and decide whether they match up to a precise and mature vision of reality. By learning that resentment is actually a form of quiet anger, we can trace it back to anger, then the rules in our mind, etc…
I strongly encourage people to visit this site often, repeatedly over a long periods, of reading, mulling, forgetting, then returning afresh. It has been a very useful tool for me, I hope it is for you. Disclaimer? None, it’s just a very helpful site done by one man.