Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.
Often, my clients come to me with huge bags full of feelings, and huge burdens of guilt because they believe that how they feel must be the truth.
I’ve never said it yet, but sometimes I think, “Just give me the facts, Ma’am.”
Feelings change, sometimes moment by moment. You can’t base your attitudes and behaviors on your feelings. They’re not reliable. You have to consider the facts–what is true? Not how do you feel, but what is the truth.
(In my search for Joe Friday saying “Just the facts, Ma’am.” I discovered that he never actually said those words in any program. They were created by someone who was doing a parody of him on a different show.)
This is the most difficult hurdle for a lot of people, because they have lived for years trying to please everyone around them; or, worse, they assume that they are not heard, not respected, and that no one likes, loves, or appreciates them because that’s how they feel.
When I ask these folks to give me some facts about their relationships, it always takes them by surprise. They invariably try to respond with, “Well, I just feel like. . . . . .”
No. Don’t tell me how you feel. Tell me the facts. Example: Has your spouse been faithful and supportive for the 30+ years you’ve been married? Yes? Then you can’t judge him by how you feel when he doesn’t bring you flowers. He’s not a flower kind of guy. He’s an acts of service kind of guy, who shows you that he loves you every single day that he goes to work, fixes a dripping faucet, or folds the laundry because you’re busy with one of the kids. I agree that flowers are nice, but if I have to choose, I’ll take the guy who is reliable, dependable, and who takes care of me when I’m sick. The rare occasions when he does bring me a gift mean all the more because I know it’s not his primary love language. Last night he brought me a bag of Dove Dark Chocolates. They’ll last me a long time, and they’re just as good, if not better, than flowers.
And yes, I got a gooey feeling in my tummy when I spotted the bag of candy by my chair. Feelings are okay, but they are not barometers by which we should guide our behavior.
Recently I talked with a client who feels that she has no special skills. Sure of my facts, I asked her to talk about her two adult children. They’re wonderful adults, responsible, hardworking, thoughtful, and they love her. As she talked, her face brightened and she even smiled. When she stopped, I said, “So–whoever reared those two must have had some great parenting skills.”
She had never considered that being a successful mom is a skill, a gift, a trait that not everyone has. Fact: She feels better about herself today because she realized that she had indeed done a great job as a parent. Facts, not feelings.
And that’s all we have time for today. You can pay my secretary downstairs before you leave, and don’t forget to schedule your next appointment.