"sam is typing..."

(A Blog by Sam Marshall)

Naming Your Feelings

2018 03 22

I dig through my old notebooks about a month after they're done, and there's always something interesting I come across. This is one of those things. (I should probably post about my process as a whole some time too)

On the 5th of February 2018 I was nearly 2 months into handing my notice in at my last job. I was rapidly approaching when I'd be leaving a job I knew I could do well, working with people I love. I was also steaming towards a job I didn't know that I could do, with people I didn't know. That's a scary thing. (spoiler: so far, it's turned out really well and I'm enjoying it loads)

Here's one of the notes I made on that day:

This feeling in my chest
    Is it hope?
Are they different?

I'd been reading about how framing your feelings differently can make a difference. One person might interpret a feeling as excitement, another person might interpret the same feeling as fear. As someone who has a lot of anxiety, the idea that emotions could be re-framed or given new context is very interesting. Not to say it would be easy. If it was easy, I wouldn't be a person who felt a lot of anxiety. This idea doesn't work for me, at least not as a short or medium term thing, and I'd have no idea how to make it work long term either. It was worth a thought, but it wasn't for me.

For now, I'm mostly working on "just doing things anyway", in spite of any anxiety. This does works for me, and I've been pushing to do public speaking, putting myself forward in work, taking on new responsibilities and all that jazz for a few years now. I think it's been going well. However, it is important to be self-aware when doing this. You need to know that it is something that you do actually want to do disguised by anxiety, not just something you hate. I read about a similar idea today in fact: You're Not Lazy, which says it differently than I would, but might work for you.

Another line from my notes reads:

phrasing this as 'new job anxiety' makes it sound like a thing, like something everyone feels, which makes me feel better. because it probably is

Naming feelings like this can reduce or enhance their power. Names for feelings are always going to be a very personal thing, but naming a feeling like this provides a hook. A hook you can hang context from. A hook with context that already exists, in some cases.

At that point, I'd really struggled to talk about the feeling with people. After I wrote this, when people asked how I was I'd say "I'm starting to feel that new job anxiety", and they'd get it immediately, and I'd feel better for it. Half the battle was writing this sentence, giving it a name for myself. After I did that, talking about it was easier.

Anyway, that's about it. Thanks for reading.