For the next few weeks, we’ll be discussing snippets of wisdom from Augusten Burrough’s book, This is How.
Today, I wanted to share this passage:
But feelings, no matter how strong or “ugly,” are not a part of who you are. They are the radio stations your mind listens to if you don’t give it something better to do. Feelings are fluid and dynamic; they change frequently.
Feelings are something you have, not something you are. Like physical beauty, a cold sore, or an opinion.
This passage resonates so much with me personally because, once I moved to Thailand, I would get regular and intense panic attacks. Sometimes they would last a few hours. Sometimes I would panic for days. And seriously, the only thing that got me through them was the knowledge and experience that at some point it would pass. I knew that no matter what I was feeling at any given moment, eventually I would feel something different.
So how does this knowledge help us as writers?
Well, for one, if you’re feeling something sharp, poignant, intense, indelibly you, WRITE IT DOWN – even if it means pulling the car over and scribbling on a scrap tissue rummaged out of your purse while your kids are demanding lunch and to know why. Feelings are fleeting, and sometimes we only have moments to capture a truth.
And sometimes what you’re thinking when you’re feeling is not what you’re feeling at all. Sometimes you have to write out your thoughts because it’s like the packaging that wraps itself around the gift that is what you’re actually experiencing. You have to shed the shiny, crisp paper to find the truth inside. Like when we think angry thoughts only to find out that what that anger really is is fear.
We really only find out who we are when we’re willing to let feelings go.
Did you find any insights in Burrough’s writing? Feel free to share it in the comments!