Last summer, I was visiting Turkey and was sitting in my mother-in-law’s home with some visiting guests. My mother-in-law was talking to the guests and said something that sounded like, “Sheima sounds so funny when she speaks Turkish,” and then she made a sound like a clucking chicken, which seemed to be imitating my broken way of speaking Turkish.
Well, when she did this, my heart just felt broken. I honestly felt pain in my heart. I felt hurt for many reasons. Firstly, I have had a struggle with learning Turkish, which is so different from English and it’s hard visiting Turkey, especially when we’re constantly seeing guests.
Another reason I felt so badly was because earlier that day there had been a misunderstanding with another person and my husband had sort of made me feel badly about this.
So when my mother-in-law seemingly put me down for my poor Turkish, I was deeply in pain. I had to leave the room and I even thought about trying to get a divorce because of the Turkish language issue.
Well, it turned out that I misinterpreted what my mother-in-law said. She was actually talking about how she thinks I sound when I speak English to my children, because she doesn’t know English. So the entire reason my heart felt broken was actually not even real.
The reason I share this story is for you to stop and think the next time you are feeling an especially painful emotion. You see, when we are in emotional pain, it is usually due to thoughts which we are absolutely sure about. But actually, our thoughts are not always “true”. What happened in my case is that I “identified myself” with my thought that my marriage is so difficult because of my poor Turkish language skills. I was able to recognize my sad state and I used a “coping skill” of writing an email to a dear friend, who kindly reminded me that my marriage is not about knowing how to speak Turkish, it is about a relationship that is far more deeper than that.
I found it funny that I felt so much heartbreak over something that turned out to be a total misunderstanding. But you see, when we “identify” with our negative emotions, we “become one” with the emotions, when actually we are not our emotions!
The next time you are feeling a negative emotion, try to “separate yourself” from that emotion. Pretend that the calm version of “you” is staring down at the “you” who is in a difficult state. That will help you to separate yourself from your emotions instead of losing yourself in them.
And remember to use your coping skills (whatever helps you to positively deal with difficulties, such as writing in a journal or talking to a friend).
And also remember to not believe everything you think! You might be wrong!