This is what my CBT therapist said to me in one of my sessions years ago, when I was explaining that I was terrified that everyone saw how much of a pathetic impostor I was in social situations, particularly when I had to speak publicly.
“Your feelings are a secret.”
I’ve repeated this in my head many times over and it certainly helped with nerves when combined with a lot of other techniques.
These words have given me a lot of comfort in tough situations, but to be completely honest, I’m not entirely convinced. I’ve got one of those faces you see, that just totally gives it away when I’m nervous, upset, confused or angry. I’d call it resting bitch face, but honestly, it’s more like resting ‘what’s going on with her?!’ face.
Because of this, I’ve adapted the words in my head to:
“Your feelings are a secret. And if they’re not, it doesn’t matter. It’s only your actions that count anyway.”
A while ago, when I was considering that I might be an actual psychopath (I know right?!), I watched some brilliant talks on the subject. And the overwhelming advice came back, was that it didn’t matter if you were a truly awful person deep-down, so long as you were pretending to be a really good person, and acting accordingly.
I eventually decided that I probably wasn’t a psychopath, mostly based on how much I care about my cats, Kimbo and Mr. Wonderful, as well as my aversion to Huey Lewis and the News. But aside from that, I’ve adopted this attitude of actions over feelings in every area of my life.
In times when I feel jealous of others’ success; when I’m tempted to step on someone else in order to get what I want; when my ego raises its rather ugly head; when my thoughts and feelings don’t match up with the way that I want to live my life…. I just breathe, and act like a good person would.
No one cares what’s going on underneath if your actions paint a good picture. Plus, it’s much easier to forgive yourself for bad thoughts than bad actions.
You might even find after a while, that you’re not even having to pretend.