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Which comes first? The feeling or the thought?

(37 Posts)
pumbarumba Sun 08-Jan-17 20:28:31

Any psychology experts would be fab, otherwise anyone who has an opinion on the matter:
I'm currently having some counselling/CBT with an excellent counsellor who has helped me tremendous amounts. That's until very recently. I've become a little low by something they keep preaching to me, as I just don't get it.
He says that we have control over our thoughts. Yes perfectly reasonable. I get this. However, he also keeps telling me and giving me material which states that thoughts also govern our feelings.
I've felt a lot of resentment towards DH over recent weeks due to his busy lifestyle choices whilst I've been going through a very close bereavement. My counsellor keeps asking me to put myself in his shoes and to try to think more positively about his actions. It's due to the high standards and demands that he places on himself that he does this.
But, regardless of what I try to think, I can't help but feel completely resentful towards him. It's not that I'm thinking negative thoughts but more a feeling that sweeps over me that makes me not want to be anywhere near him when I'm feeling let down.
I feel like I'm constantly failing at this "try to control your thoughts to control your feelings" thing. Surely, we feel how we feel and there's not a lot we can do about it, other than compare our feelings with the facts and then try to be constructive?
To me I feel neglected, the facts are that he's busy and not around much to lighten the load. How can I then control my thoughts on the matter to be more positive? Finding it very hard work and beating myself up for not quite getting it.

Gildedcage Sun 08-Jan-17 20:36:17

I'm not a councillor or psychologist. I don't know the academic answer but I have practical experience of thinking and therefore choosing to be happy.

I'm not sure if this is what you're asking to be honest but yes I agree that you can influence how you perceive things.

ferriswheel Sun 08-Jan-17 20:40:42

I don't know that I can help with your specific question but the feelings you are experiencing regarding your counsellor are important.

I would consider getting a new counsellor.

You are not wrong to be angry with your dh. Don't let it go.

CockacidalManiac Sun 08-Jan-17 20:41:09

Having had CBT before, I seem to remember the thought comes before the feeling. The trick is to learn how to interrupt the process from thought to feeling, and to stop it being an automatically negative process. It's rewiring how you brain and thought process works; effective for some, not so much for others.
Don't beat yourself up; you're trying to reverse how you've been taught to think and to react to events. You're trying to unlearn something that it's taken your lifetime to learn. It takes practice, and once again, it doesn't work for everyone.

CockacidalManiac Sun 08-Jan-17 20:41:55

But I agree with PP, the counsellor seems to be coming at this from a very weird angle.

MorrisZapp Sun 08-Jan-17 20:43:44

I'm not sure that advising women to 'think positively' about unsupportive relationships is really helpful but no doubt there's more to it than that.

I'm not a lover of the choosing your feelings theory. I've had depression and severe anxiety in the past and I didn't bloody choose them. At its worst, my anxiety was waking me up with a loud banging noise which once awake, I realised was my heart. If I'm having panic attacks in my sleep then it's fair to say I'm not choosing them. In fact I had a but of an argument with my mum about it.

I found cbt interesting and a useful distraction, but it did little to get me well again, the medication did that. I'm not sure why MN orthodoxy is that talking therapies are the 'real cure' and that meds a mere sticking plaster. My experience was the other way round.

CockacidalManiac Sun 08-Jan-17 20:44:35

He says that we have control over our thoughts

Well, this is possible for a lot of people with the right training and tool set. Those of us that have our occasional delusional moments due to MH issues might disagree, however.

CockacidalManiac Sun 08-Jan-17 20:45:38

And to be honest, you might as well tell someone with diabetes that they have control over their blood sugar. It ain't necessarily so.

CockacidalManiac Sun 08-Jan-17 20:47:35

I'm not sure why MN orthodoxy is that talking therapies are the 'real cure' and that meds a mere sticking plaster. My experience was the other way round.

My understanding is that a mixed approach is desirable, but some people just can't function without their meds. You can't talk away psychosis or a serotonin problem.

Gildedcage Sun 08-Jan-17 20:52:04

As the others have said I'd be questioning the reasoning here.

Ultimately your feelings are never wrong. Without getting into too much detail when I had counselling it was not to attempt to alter my feelings about an individual. Is this relationship counselling or is it for you?

Waitingfordolly Sun 08-Jan-17 20:56:44

The emotional bit of your brain operates faster than the rational thought bit, and it's mostly not easily changed via thinking, though I'm not quite sure that's what you're dealing with here. I guess you can notice your feelings and how you react to them, e.g. are they justified in the circumstances or are you reacting to something in your past? Are you automatically thinking negative thoughts or could there be another explanation for your DH's behaviour? But if you have gone through that process and decided no, your DH is being unsupportive then it's natural to feel hurt / upset / angry. Sounds like your counsellor is asking you to just put up with something that's crap.

Gildedcage Sun 08-Jan-17 20:59:03

Oh and for the record I wasn't depressed and my anxiety was very much a reaction to a certain situation rather than me having an anxiety issue. If that makes sense.

SaltySeaDog72 Sun 08-Jan-17 21:36:13

I've had analytical psychotherapy. 'Y therapist always maintained that feelings 'just are'.

If you are going through a close bereavement your feelings are injured and I can't fathom why you are being asked to consciously interrupt that process.

I would give you these flowers

And suggest a break from this therapy while you go through this bereavement (the only way is 'through')

Or reconsider a different mode of therapy and/or a different therapist.

So sorry for your loss flowers

dailyshite Sun 08-Jan-17 21:40:49

This is a basic premise of CBT,

A - activating event
B - belief about the event
C - consequence (feelings and behaviour)

All are then intertwined, so its bloody hard to separate them out. Its definitely not easy, at all.

Sounds a bit clumsy how he has said it though, more like psychoeducation than actual therapy.

dailyshite Sun 08-Jan-17 21:42:50

Just reread the OP. Your thought is that you're being neglected, your feeling (I guess) is sad, angry etc.

Neglected isn't a feeling or emotion.

Hermonie2016 Sun 08-Jan-17 21:55:04

CBT is useful when you have thinking errors but feeling resentful for your DH's lack of support could be valid, does she go through the scenarios with you and challenge your thinking?

What is your H doing or not doing that you want him to change? If for example you want him to take time off work and he really can't because of pressures for his job that maybe unrealistic.

In my case when I had pneumonia I wanted stbxh to take time off work (which he didn't even try to do) so that I didn't have to do the afternoon school run and could stay in bed and recover (as the dr told me to ). No amount of changing my thinking was going to help that situation.

However if you are looking for emotional support and your H is trying to be supportive but can't say the right words but is helping you in other practical ways than that could be different. Some people just aren't good at saying the right things in bereavement situations but could offer practical support.

If he is going about his life with no impact whilst you are overloaded and you have asked for support then he is selfish.

pumbarumba Sun 08-Jan-17 22:12:48

Hermonie: I think I just want his time so that I can go for a walk and be sad if I want to, talk about how I'm feeling and not feel I have the weight of the world on my shoulders. DH is just so busy with extra work, other commitments and hobbies, he hasn't slowed down to spend time with me at all. I can't remember the last time we had a date night, or even just sat and had a conversation. Whenever I try to talk about how I'm feeling, he's always pressing for time because he's something else he needs to do... he works V hard, but he could have slowed things down a little to give me a bit of breathing space, or hey, buy me a bunch of flowers?

BumDNC Sun 08-Jan-17 22:23:01

I'm not sure CBT is the right arena for some issues - this is a relationship problem, not your skewed perception.

I had this once in counselling. They were trying to help me but I kept coming back to all the feelings of resentment towards my (now ex) dp. Because he wasn't in the counselling everything was focused on what I could do to change but like you, it was things I wasn't in control of changing because they related to him/us. If the counsellor is trying to move you past the resentment then this may not work because fundamentally you need to address this with the person you feel resentful to, not go off and do background work about how to stop feeling that way.

That's my opinion anyway. I got so much out of CBT and counselling but ultimately my resentment was something I could only sort out with my partner. And he wouldn't go to counselling with me.

Would your DH?

pumbarumba Sun 08-Jan-17 22:27:09

DH is reluctant to go to counselling as he says he will not talk to a complete stranger about personal things. He's very closed off in general though, even with his closest friends.

SaltySeaDog72 Sun 08-Jan-17 22:29:20

Agree you can't use CBT to resolve relationship problems. Because these are, y'know, relational. You can't fix it on your own if it's not all about you. Sounds like psychotherapy for you would be better. This is about having a better relationship with yourself. Which makes it easier to gain perspective and confidence to assert your needs and therefore address issues with others.

kittybiscuits Sun 08-Jan-17 22:33:27

It sounds as if you are being pushed to think differently. Asked to explore alternative thoughts would be fine, but not nudged to think/feel a particular way. That's poor CBT. Can you say this to the therapist? It would be good if you could. His beliefs seem to be getting in the way.

maggiethemagpie Sun 08-Jan-17 22:33:42

Don't deny your feelings OP. If you feel neglected as a result of your interpretation of your DH's behaviour, you have to accept that.

IN TIME you may come to a different interpretation, and have different feelings as a result. But you can't force it.

You feel how you feel. Very dangerous to deny or resist your true feelings.

AcidBird Sun 08-Jan-17 22:34:36

I have never had CBT but have had another talking therapy. One of the things I learned there is that sometimes anger, frustration or disappointment can be the reasonable and sane response to a rubbish situation. I don't know if this applies in your case but would be wary of a therapist who thought that all problems can be solved by changing the way you think about them. Sometimes it is the situation that we need to change.

WispyWindy Sun 08-Jan-17 22:37:56

Having experienced an unsupportive partner (or at least not supporting me in the way I hoped and expected) following a bereavement it has taken me a long time to be able go trust DH again. I've had to go through a long process of feeling angry and let down, and the basically get over it by trying to strengthen our relationship and talk about problems together. At some point I suppose I made a conscience decision to move forward from a position of pain and wondering whether our relationship could survive the sense of betrayal I felt. However, it was a long, organic process, tied in with other aspects of dealing with my grief and related depression. I would not have welcomed the suggestions from your counsellor, certainly not within a year of the bereavement. Also suggest you find a new counsellor who first focuses on you rather than your DH.

BumDNC Sun 08-Jan-17 22:38:51

IMO the only way to manage resentment in the way your counsellor suggests is to stop caring at all. Which isn't ideal confused
I cannot get my head around how you are supposed to stop feeling and thinking that way when clearly you cannot because nothing is changing

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