Attempting dual knob control on a single knob function does not work. I see people trying to do this all the time, and as you may guess, it doesn’t work. I am not talking about home appliances or electronic gadgets of some sort; I am talking about feelings.
Many people seem to think that our feelings come with one knob for “happy” feelings and another for “sad” feelings. They generally want to turn up the knob for “happy” feelings, and turn down the knob for “sad” feelings.
But life isn’t like that. Either you turn all feelings up or you turn all feelings down. There is only single knob control when it comes to feelings. Pretending otherwise only makes things worse.
I’ve often worked with people who do not want to deal with a loss, such as a loved one who has died. They pretend on the outside that everything is fine. They attempt to turn down the sad feelings and replace them with happy ones.
Deep inside they know that this is not working – and they continue to do it. It is all they know how to do. They eventually have an underlying depression that can no longer be pretended away.
The first step in recovery is to acknowledge that there is only a single knob. If you want to feel happy again, then you must be willing to turn the single knob on, to work through the pain that will lead through growth to happiness and joy again.
As you are willing to embrace the intensity of the pain, you will gradually restore all your feelings to a higher and livelier setting.
The tracings of an EKG show life to be a combination of both the highs and lows. Attempting to flatline your feelings could cost you your life.
Originally Published – 2/09/96