Reading List: Tina Gilbertson on wallowing constructively

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

You were this close to getting what you wanted.

That big sale, the raise, the promotion, all within your grasp. The acquisition, the job, the deal of a lifetime: almost yours, until everything fell through.

That's life, right? Buck up and suck it up. Move on… but how, when you can't get over it? You're miserable, so read the book Constructive Wallowing by Tina Gilbertson, and learn that feeling sorry for yourself may be the right thing to do.

We all have our disappointments. It's a part of being human, just as it is to say "Look on the bright side!" or "It could've been worse!" The truth is, though, that chirpy sentiments and Think Positive posters only make you feel lousier. What's more, if you follow those words, you'll cut yourself off from understanding, and you quash the chance to get rid of those bad feelings.

The point, says Gilbertson, is that "how we deal with our feelings has an impact on how quickly we're able to bounce back from setbacks large and small." The trick, she says, is not to change your emotions or suppress them, since stuffing them down puts them in an "escalation cycle." Instead, acknowledge them, allow yourself to feel them, then let them run their course.

"You can't wallow unless you ALLOW," says Gilbertson, and wallowing constructively means being kind to yourself while you're allowing feelings to surface.

Doing so seems so difficult, but there are steps to help you.

Have a conversation with yourself, and figure out why you're experiencing bad feelings. Don't be afraid to get everything out into the open; there is no wrong answer here. Learn the 11 Reasons why you want to wallow in your emotions, then use The T-R-U-T-H Technique to bring the bad feelings forward. "Feel your pain. Let it go where it wants to go with you," and don't try to force anything. Have a good cry if you need to, and remember that when bad feelings have "run their natural course… they'll go away on their own."

Sounds a little new-agey, doesn't it? I thought so, too-but then again, if you've ever talked yourself out of a bad mood, then you'll know that it's hard to argue with what's inside Constructive Wallowing.

By advocating what is basically a deep examination and acceptance of emotions, author and counselor Gilbertson offers readers a few handy tools to help get rid of those feelings that seem to hang around like an overstayed guest in the back bedroom. Some of the methods are given in step-by-step fashion while others, though moderately repetitive, advocate more of an overall, big-picture helping hand. And if readers still struggle with emotions they'd rather not have, Gilbertson finishes her book with advice on finding a therapist to help.

Yes, what's here may be somewhat alternative but when the remains of a disappointment just won't let go, Constructive Wallowing seemed to me to be worth a try. And if that's what you need in a book, keep this close.

Constructive Wallowing

Tina Gilbertson

2014, Viva Editions

$15.95, 256 pages