understanding a feeling of doom followed by a change

(General content note: A lot of my thinking has really changed since the old days of this blog. There’s some weird, mean, and polemic stuff in there.)

Email response I gave:
So what I’m hearing is that you’re asking about the sense of doom, how you distracted yourself but it eventually became overwhelming, and then you acted and felt differently towards your flatmates and people on the street and women? And you’re curious about some insight into all of that, how your perception seems to have changed, somehow? (Let me know if I’m off base.)
 >> It feels like I had a mini-crisis that made me shift perception or that for the first time I properly dealt with my feelings, or something else, I have no idea. <<
These days I’m seeing things through the lens of Coherence Therapy. (But, remember, I’m just some random guy! I’m not a professional or an expert.)
1. If we have a strong emotion, that can mean a part of our brain pattern-matched and decided that the current situation is similar enough to a past situation that they should be treated similarly.
2. The past situation in (1) can create a strong belief that affects behavior throughout our lives. We think we’re “doing what we want and what makes sense” but we’re actually living inside of a behavior box, our behavior is actually constrained, by past emotional experiences that imperfectly match the current experience, but match enough that we react to them as if they were the old experience. (That’s why people or ourselves seem to react strongly and irrationally to seemingly harmless situations. Part of our brain strongly believes that it’s actually a different, really bad situation.)
3. Emotions are signals to pay attention or to do something. Sometimes they don’t have easily accessible words attached, but there’s always meaning there, even if it’s hard to find some words that fit that meaning (at first).
4. A way to deliberately have more flexible behavior is to find the emotional meaning in a situation or reaction, put that meaning into words, honor it, and gently find counterexamples. Not attacking the emotional reaction but juxtaposing the reaction. (See Coherence Therapy.)
5. In your case, you experienced a feeling of doom that ultimately refused to be ignored. Perhaps, you implicitly, unconsciously reality-tested the belief/meaning behind this feeling of doom. Or, you were prompted to go out and experiment in reality to disconfirm the belief/meaning behind this feeling of doom. Your sense of how reality works, has been (temporarily or permanently) updated, and your behavior and possibilities for action have been (temporarily or permanently) updated.
6. It’s like a part of you has thought for decades that there was a monster waiting to attack you if you did something wrong. And a part of you really believed that the monster was there and you forgot that part of you existed. But that part of you got really loud because it thought the monster was really close, and it was really unpleasant because of the doom feeling, but, in the process, you and that part discovered that the monster didn’t actually exist, so it was a net win. And subsequently, all sorts of new possibilities opened up that you couldn’t do before (“comfort zone expansion”), because the monster that you thought had been waiting to attack was no longer a concern.
Am I on target? Off base? I have been doing a lot of Coherence Therapy on myself. Eugene Gendlin’s Focusing and Jay Earley’s book on Internal Family Systems Therapy helped me get up to speed with Coherence Therapy faster. Coherence Therapy is sort of a way to repeat experiences like your doom experience, for different issues, without it being so intense and confusing.
Useful? -M
[May I post exactly this email, nothing more, nothing less?]