When you feel like crap “just feel better” is the most unhelpful-sounding advice. After all, there are reasons why you feel bad right now, it’s not simply a choice, right?
Well that’s true: it’s not simply a choice; it’s also a practiced habit. That’s why feeling bad comes easier than feeling better, at first.
As I’m learning about attachment theory, I can see how feeling better is like a child turning to his or her parent or caregiver for security, comfort, reassurance and affection.
Perhaps the sense that feeling better is trivial or not enough is related to our attachment style? If we never learned to find genuine security and comfort with a parent or caregiver then we implicitly never learned to value simply feeling better when we feel bad.
For me the inability to find reliable security and comfort in my attachments led to a kind of resignation towards suffering, and self-reliance in seeking to avoid future suffering.
That’s why “feel better” seems insufficient to me…I never learned how. Ingrained in my childhood was more of a “endure until it goes away” approach to suffering, followed by an intense search for deeper answers that promised to help me “overcome” suffering forever.
And that pattern has helped shape my life. Alongside my perennial search for “answers”, I’ve done my best to avoid suffering as much as possible while also silently enduring whatever conditions I consider unavoidable.
Securely feeling better
That’s why feeling better is ultimately such a powerful thing to learn and practice especially when I feel like it’s “not enough”.
Every moment of intentionally feeling better is retraining my mind and body into a completely new pattern capable of maintaining equilibrium and balance.
Imagine what a difference that makes, to go from an attitude where suffering is inevitable (and can only be overcome through extreme effort) to one where suffering can be quickly and effectively neutralised and soothed, and the opposite – genuine good feeling – can be developed and grow.
That’s why those moments where I feel bad, and feeling better seems insufficient, are the most valuable moments to practice.