My youngest son is a lot like me—he pretty much organizes his life around avoiding physical pain and discomfort.

So, when he got pink eye, and the doctor ordered us to put antibiotic drops in his eye, I wondered if we could just lock him in his room for a week until the pink eye resolved on its own. Don’t judge me. I only wondered for a minute.

Or two.

I was put in charge of the drops, because I can empathize a little better with his hysteria. As he lay on the couch, writhing, eyes clamped shut and screaming, it was clear his feelings were preventing him from receiving a healing balm. The drops were medicine—they would be soothing and they would cure him—but his feelings were lying to him, telling him he wouldn’t be able to handle the discomfort.

And there was nothing I could do to change his feelings…

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Our feelings are important—we need to listen to them, to become intimately familiar with them, to learn their depths. But that doesn’t mean they’re always honest with us. Sometimes, our feelings lie.

Anxiety is a sincere and good feeling when you hear footsteps behind you in a dark parking garage. It’s a horrible, life-ruining lie when you are walking down the street and scared to death of what everyone thinks of the size of your waist or the size of your wallet.

My feelings lie to me every time a new blog post goes live. I get terrified of what people will think. My feelings tell me it’s not worth it. They tell me to forget about this whole writing thing.

Many of us have gotten used to listening to the lies our feelings whisper to us, and it’s shutting down our lives, because we are missing out on the healing elixir of love and grace and creativity and wonder…

My son rocked to and fro on the couch, and I could relate to it. So I asked him to listen to my whisper and when he had stilled, I asked, “Can you find the place inside of your heart where you can do anything?”

One eye peaked open. “Huh?” he asked.

So I said it again, “Can you close your eyes and find the still, quiet place inside of you where you know you can do anything?”

He closed his eyes. I watched his face get placid and his chest begin to slowly rise and fall. Then his eyes opened, and he looked at me, and he said, “I’m ready, Daddy.”

And I dropped the healing medicine into his eye…

We have a still, quiet place inside of us. I could confidently encourage my son to find his still, quiet center, because as a therapist, I’ve learned we all have it. And when we call upon it, our fears lose their power to limit us, our anger loses its power to devastate us, and our sadness loses its power to devour us.

Our feelings lose their control over us.

We trade in our resentment for the quiet whisper of, “Go apologize.” We trade in our fear of condemnation for the quiet whisper of, “Go create.” We trade in our regrets about the past for the quiet whisper of, “Live this. Now.” We trade in our surge of shame for, “Be vulnerable, make yourself known.” We trade in years of “You’re a mess, you should be embarrassed,” for the quiet whisper of, “You’re a mess, join the club and start to live.”

My feelings tell me to scrap a post like this. My feelings tell me people will think I’m arrogant to speak so boldly. My feelings tell me people will think it’s all a bunch of psychobabble. Or even worse, people won’t care about it at all.

But the quiet whisper from the still place says, “Schedule it, put it out there, your words matter, Kelly, and even if you get it all wrong, you are still worthy.”

The whisper is like a drop of medicine.

So I schedule it. I put it out there.

Our feelings are keeping us captive. Killing our creativity. Stifling our love. Undermining our redemption. But what if we all stopped listening to them, and started listening to the still, quiet place inside?  I think it would be like a balm. And I think we’d all start to see our lives for what they are.

Life is a gift in terrifying disguise, and we are here to open it, until we find the still-quiet place in the center of it, where fear no longer decides.

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Artisan is thrilled to announce the addition of a new therapist! Mandy Hughes joined us in May, and we are so grateful for the skill, experience, and goodness of heart she is already adding to our office. To find out more about Mandy, you can CLICK HERE to read her bio.

If you’re interested in receiving future Artisan blog posts by email, you can CLICK HERE to subscribe. We’ll post approximately two times per month, and we’ll never try to sell something to you. Therapy is the one space in the world you get to receive without feeling compelled to give in return. We want the Artisan blog to feel the same way.

Dr. Kelly Flanagan

Dr. Kelly Flanagan

Kelly is a licensed clinical psychologist, practicing at Artisan Clinical Associates in Naperville, IL. He is also a writer and blogs regularly about the redemption of our personal, relational, and communal lives at DrKellyFlanagan.com. Kelly is married, has three children, and enjoys learning from them how to be a kid again.

Disclaimer: Posts on the Artisan Clinical blog represent a combination of our therapists’ personal opinions and professional experiences, but they do not reflect professional advice. Interaction with a therapist via the blog post or the comments section does not constitute a professional therapeutic relationship. For professional and customized advice, you should seek the services of a counselor who can dedicate the hours necessary to become more familiar with your specific situation. While all blog comments are read and appreciated by our therapists, the blog cannot be monitored continuously, so if you have a need that requires immediate attention, you should go to your nearest emergency room for assistance. We do not assume liability for any portion or content of material on the blog and accept no liability for damage or injury resulting from your decision to interact with the website.

If you would like to schedule an appointment with one of our therapists, you can do so on our "make an appointment" page. We respect the privacy and confidentiality of our clientele, so we write about ourselves, not our clients.
Dr. Kelly Flanagan
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