Don't Mistake the Waves for the Ocean
July 2, 2022 1:41 PM   Subscribe

How To Cope With Big Feelings. Liz Fosslien on the myths of Big Feelings: Myths about uncertainty. Tools to help cope with perfectionism. Emotions as a response to stimuli we’re taking in and a result of our brain chemistry. How to stop “anxious fixing.” The helpful phrase “I’m a person learning to….” How extreme language produces extreme emotions. Naming your inner perfectionist. Finding a non-perfectionist role model. The red flag of thinking “I’ll be happy when…” How envy can reveal what you value, and then thinking about your willingness to live the life that leads to that. Why 'approach' goals are better than 'avoidance' goals. How to just make it through when you’re in the worst of it in life.
posted by storybored (29 comments total) 73 users marked this as a favorite
 
Although, as bitter as I am, I agree about the affect extreme language has. Still bitter.
posted by liminal_shadows at 3:01 PM on July 2


Oh right, as usual, this is advice for the middle and upper classes.

I feel this so much. I'm sorry for whatever made you have to stay in your car. It's the same disconnect I feel when I listen to say: The Rich Roll podcast. They just had Lisa Bilyeu on, who on the surface seems to have this wonderful narrative.

But the narrative leaves me scratching my head. She talks about barely scraping by trying to self-finance an independent film in Hollywood with her husbamd, how they drove a beater car, etc.

But turn a corner, and her and her husband have amassed millions of dollars, owned a home, and were able to start an entirely new business - all the while she admitted to being a housewife - something was really yadda yadda'd over.

I guess my point is, there's different rock bottoms for different people, and it's maybe all too much to hear what "rock bottom" is to me for those of high privilege.
posted by alex_skazat at 3:36 PM on July 2 [9 favorites]


Isn't this sort of like orbital resonance? Like why even though their orbits interesect, Pluto and Neptune will never collide? Hard times at the top will have polluted open air balconies while it's Morlock eat Eloi in the tunnels below.
posted by y2karl at 4:10 PM on July 2 [3 favorites]


Perhaps we might not completely shit upon a fellow Mefite's post.
posted by MollyRealized at 5:35 PM on July 2 [59 favorites]


I haven't listened to the podcast yet but I clicked through to her twitter - I like her minimal illustrations, like this one. I bet I could find a couple that would be good to post around my desk at work.
posted by the primroses were over at 5:58 PM on July 2 [2 favorites]


I've listened to what I could stand. I think the author is offering some reasonable suggestions but both she and the host carry in a bunch of context that doesn't comport with the high minded description by being as universal as maybe the editor believes.

Instead, this is a professional corporate coach whose examples are kind of low stakes and highly specific to a certain class and background.

Honestly this would read better without the host's lugubrious but uninvolved marketing tone.

I'm glad someone found this a good step on their path, but I get how it definitely doesn't meet everyone where they are.
posted by abulafa at 6:01 PM on July 2 [2 favorites]


Direct link to mp3.
posted by MollyRealized at 6:03 PM on July 2


For those folks who are a little baffled by the flow of this thread, some early comments were removed.
posted by mochapickle at 6:20 PM on July 2 [33 favorites]


Perhaps we might not completely shit upon a fellow Mefite's post.

I’m really struggling with the worst suicidal ideation of my life and those initial two responses hurt a lot. Seeing someone say anything positive actually helped.

I wish we didn’t have to hurt things just because we’ve been hurt or are hurting. I don’t want to participate in those cycles.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 7:01 PM on July 2 [53 favorites]


To be clear, I will be fine and am seeing people to help. But it hurt when this seemed like a subject that actually I needed.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 7:10 PM on July 2 [15 favorites]


Agreed. This framing might not be everyone's particular cup of tea and that's perfectly okay, but it might be a lifeboat to someone else. I plan to give it a listen.

Thanks for posting it, storybored.
posted by mochapickle at 7:14 PM on July 2 [11 favorites]


is there a transcript?
posted by wym at 9:40 PM on July 2 [8 favorites]


I love Eric Zimmer’s podcasts and look forward to listening to this one. The One You Feed has been a lifesaver for me.
posted by waving at 5:39 AM on July 3 [1 favorite]


I wish we didn't have to hurt things just because we've been hurt or are hurting ... It hurt when this seemed like a subject that actually I needed

OntheLastCastle, I hear you.

After the most severe depression of my life culminated in suicidal ideation, I am about to start the second week of a three-week partial hospitalization program, and my first response to the post was "Thank god that someone has gathered all of this helpful information information in one place."
posted by virago at 7:47 AM on July 3 [12 favorites]


Perhaps we might not completely shit upon a fellow Mefite's post.

Thank you, MollyRealized.
posted by virago at 7:54 AM on July 3 [5 favorites]


So.... does anybody have alternative strategies for dealing with big feelings?

Mine have been:

- Lecturing someone who isn't present (kind of a verbal write-a-letter-then-throw-it-away);

- Making up and singing a tragic, sloppy song to wallow, usually in the bathroom;

- ...? I'm not saying my first two are awesome...
posted by amtho at 9:04 AM on July 3 [5 favorites]


Lecturing someone who isn't there is a great one. Works for me.
posted by Zumbador at 10:00 AM on July 3 [2 favorites]


Lecturing someone who isn't there kind of does the opposite for me. It helps me sustain the anger or outrage or feeling of injury but doesn't really resolve the feelings. I need to do the opposite - I use the "telling the object of my frustration all about what they're doing wrong/to me" is a good signal I need to start using compartmentalizing strategies. This usually starts with a mantra like "doesn't matter" to break the feedback loop of satisfying-but-not-resolving feelings by reminding myself I can't actually make others change and need to focus instead on what's in my power.

If it works for you, great. For me learning to allow my frustration to settle rather than poking at it serves my overall capacity to deal productively with other frustrations.
posted by abulafa at 10:08 AM on July 3 [10 favorites]


I wasn't here for the posts that were removed, but it seems like it should be possible to share a negative reaction to the content linked without shitting on the poster.

"How envy can reveal what you value, and then thinking about your willingness to live the life that leads to that" is a concept I find extremely harmful personally. It's very victim blamey and evinces a belief in a Just World. For many people, there is no realistic way to "live the life that leads to" a desired outcome. It would require, say, being born an able-bodied white male, or being born to rich parents. The *majority* of wealthy people got that way through inheritance. There are many goals that may be either impossible or close to it due to life circumstances such as illness or existing responsibilities. And dumb luck also plays a huge role in things like whether someone finds a compatible partner or not. I don't think it serves people to tell them that those who have what they want necessarily got there through their own merits, and that they, too can have X if they just deserve it.
posted by Flock of Cynthiabirds at 12:22 PM on July 3 [6 favorites]


I mean I clicked through, didn’t see what I was supposed to click, balked at 10$ that I don’t have, and came back here to tell the tale. It’s a podcast?
posted by BlunderingArtist at 12:59 PM on July 3


For those folks who are a little baffled by the flow of this thread, some early comments were removed.

Maybe this belongs in Metatalk (and maybe it's been discussed previously), but can there be a placeholder for deleted comments so that said baffled people (raises hand) don't spend five minutes re-reading the thread?
posted by zardoz at 1:53 PM on July 3 [8 favorites]


I mean I clicked through, didn’t see what I was supposed to click, balked at 10$ that I don’t have, and came back here to tell the tale. It’s a podcast?

Click play.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 1:55 PM on July 3


So.... does anybody have alternative strategies for dealing with big feelings?

I'm not sure I deal with my feelings 'normally' but my biggest tip is to find someone and do something nice for them, whether that's (at 2 am) leaving nice comments on social media or asking a senior neighbour if there's anything I can pick up at the store for them.

There's a feedback loop there for me that helps me feel connected. I have a job where it is dirt easy to be nice to someone (either a child, an adult student, or a staff member) so that's available to me most days. Sometimes I go through my reports to find a situation someone handled really well and let them know I noticed. I also have kids so again, kind of easy to set that up.

For me that really interrupts a lot of bad-feelings loops.

Second biggest is to exercise hard to spend adrenaline, but admittedly for me that's more for flashbacks/grief/fear/frustration/some forms of anger and not just big feelings. Being out in nature also helps me.

If I've had a rough week I really make an effort to carve out time to laugh and watch joyful things so I have a kind of curated list of comedies I love and also dog rescue videos.
posted by warriorqueen at 2:46 PM on July 3 [6 favorites]


There's probably some good stuff in there. Some of those list items are misleading-to-wrong (in many but not all situations). Maybe I'm too much of a stickler even with marketing copy.

Seconding the question of whether there's a free transcript; I didn't see one and I can't do audio.

Here's another resource, that might be helpful for some, in some situations: Get Bigger Than What's Bugging You (It's a 5 day e-course.)
posted by dancing leaves at 3:21 PM on July 3


"How envy can reveal what you value, and then thinking about your willingness to live the life that leads to that" is a concept I find extremely harmful personally. It's very victim blamey and evinces a belief in a Just World.

I agree that what the speaker said here could have been phrased better. Based on recognizing some of the jargon, though, I suspect she intended to convey something different. At least in ACT therapy (which uses the words “willingness” and “values” a lot), values are things like “caring for others” or “creativity” or “independence,” as opposed to concrete things you can possess or achieve (which are more like “goals”). I think the idea is to use the feeling of envy as a prompt to discover what your values are. For example, one person might be envious of someone who travels a lot because that person have a lot of freedom, and they value freedom and self-determination, yet are currently being stymied; others might be envious of the same person because they value connecting with lots of different people but are currently feeling isolated.

Obviously, you have to move towards whatever values you have within the constraints of what is possible in your life. But at least the way it’s been explained to me, the point of values is that they are bigger than any specific goal that might be out of reach for someone at a particular time in their life. If you value family but you’re estranged from your folks of origin, that’s something you might grieve — and also you might live that value out by cultivating a chosen family or by taking care of others. Whether or not you succeed by some particular standard, the point is more that you are spending your time doing something that matters to you and gives your life meaning.

The other thing I wish was emphasized more is that values are personal, but that doesn’t mean they have to lead you to individualistic “self-improvement” goals. For example, if you really value freedom and yet you find that freedom is being restricted in a particular way (for example, a discriminatory policy), one way to live out that value is to organize and build solidarity with others and to fight for your rights, in whatever ways are currently available to you.
posted by en forme de poire at 5:45 PM on July 3 [11 favorites]


For those like me who can't enjoy audio (or find the charismatic overtones here off-putting) I took the opportunity to rediscover an otter.ai to HTML transcription workflow.

HTML transcript

Docx Transcript

Sorry I couldn't make a pure plaintext export right (entirely on my phone here).
posted by abulafa at 6:17 PM on July 3 [14 favorites]


Maybe this belongs in Metatalk (and maybe it's been discussed previously), but can there be a placeholder for deleted comments so that said baffled people (raises hand) don't spend five minutes re-reading the thread?

Seems like that used to be, and still sometimes is, a thing here. But it seems very inconsistent now.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 7:39 PM on July 3 [2 favorites]


So hey, there was some recent mod feedback about the mystery deletions and it's typically a resource issue. Mefi is particularly thinly staffed on weekends and sometimes an off-duty mod will swoop in and delete a derail or bad comment etc to rescue a thread but they won't have the paid hours available to do a full threadsweep and comment. I'm hoping this is something a steering committee can address in the future. Or maybe there's a technical solution.

In the meantime, I've been starting to leave little **neutral** roadsign comments like the above in threads where I notice mystery deletions in hopes that it helps reduce that weird feeling of disorientation/displacement. I have zero authority here. If they're helpful, I'll keep doing it and maybe others can as well. If they're not helpful, I'll knock it off.

I don't want to derail the convo here, just wanted to mention in case people were wondering. Thanks everyone.
posted by mochapickle at 7:59 PM on July 3 [17 favorites]


I found your comment super helpful. Thank you, mochapickle!
posted by Bella Donna at 11:49 PM on July 3 [4 favorites]


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