Feelings are the short hand of the brain. Without feeling the feelings, the real feelings we are feeling that is, we get into trouble fast. When we say “I’m fine” when we are suffering inside that little white lie can become a decade of depressive darkness over time. You see the truth always wills out. Knowing how we really feel and how to use feelings appropriately is essential to our mental health and sanity.
Over time we can forget how we really feel deep within. We may get angry really quickly when someone rubs us the wrong way, but the real emotion we may be feeling could be rejection or abandonment. These avoidance tactics learned in childhood can end up ruining our relationships and stealing our peace as adults. We were taught to ‘just get over it’. We were told to say that we were fine and well whenever anyone asked. We often lied. Over time, we may even not know how we really, really feel. This makes us susceptible to feelings of numbness, lowness and lostness. Now, if thats how we truly feel inside and we don’t even know it, we are open to cognitive dissonance, confusion and erratic thoughts, feelings and behaviours. When we learn to know how we really feel, then we start to trust ourselves more. What are relationships built on? Trust of course. Learning to trust ourselves and others makes for great relationships, improved mental and emotional health and ultimately a better, less stressful life. Keep it simple! Even though we are complex creatures that complicate our lives, know that being still and getting in touch with how you really feel is some of the best therapy there is. Understanding how to use feelings appropriately changes lives, relationships, stress responses and binds you to other people with deepened intimacy that pays dividends.
HOW TO USE FEELINGS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
Feelings can be used appropriately or inappropriately. They can be based on accurate or inaccurate information. They can lead to adaptive behaviour or maladaptive behaviour. It is important to know how you feel and what to do when you have a feeling. Feelings will help you to solve problems. Without using your feelings appropriately, you never will be able to solve problems well. Yet, we try and numb these feelings, and problems inevitably occur. When you feel, you will be experiencing one or more of the eight primary feelings. Jealousy is feeling fearful, angry, and sad all at the same time. Each feeling needs to be addressed for full resolution of the problem. Being in touch with your feeling
If you feel confused, then you are feeling many feelings at the same time. Some of these feelings may be in conflict with each other, and you may be torn about what to do. When confused, you must separate each feeling and examine it carefully. What is each feeling telling you to do? What is the most rational thing to do?
Owning emotions and feelings
Learning how to use feelings appropriately is fairly simple. We teach at our wellness centre that when you have a feeling, you must decide how to act. The feeling is motivating you to take action. Feelings need to flow naturally and spontaneously into adaptive action. The actions must be appropriate to the situation. To always fight when you are angry is not appropriate. Most of the time, it is necessary to stop and think before you act. You want to use your feelings. When you are having an intense feeling, always ask yourself two questions:
- What is the best thing I can do for myself?
- What is the best thing I can do for others?
For the most part, you must practice thinking and planning before you act. Plan carefully how you are going to act when you have each feeling and practice this action until it flows naturally.
Your feelings are important and so is the skill of learning how to use feelings appropriately. They are great and wise counsellors that need to be listened to. You do not need to hide from your feelings. You need to listen and learn.
Guidelines for Expressing Feelings:
|Try to be specific rather than general about how you feel. Consistently using only one or two words to say how you are feeling, such as bad or upset, is too vague and general. What kind of bad or upset? (Irritated, mad, anxious, afraid, sad, hurt, lonely, etc.).|
|Specify the degree of the feelings, and you will reduce the chances of being misunderstood. For example, some people may think when you say, “I am angry” means you are extremely angry when you actually mean a “little irritated”. You can’t really be a little bit of anything, you either are or you are not. So look for the right word to express the right emotion.|
|When expressing anger or irritation, first describe the specific behavior you don’t like, then your feelings. This helps to prevent the other person from becoming immediately defensive or intimidated when they first hear “I am angry with you”, and they could miss the message.|
|If you have mixed feelings, say so, and express each feeling and explain what each feeling is about. For example: “I have mixed feelings about what you just did. I am glad and thankful that you helped me, but I didn’t like the comment about being stupid. It was disrespectful and unnecessary and I found it irritating”.|
For more information on how to use feelings appropriately, or how to recovery from depression, stress and anxiety give us a call for our inpatient treatment or online courses. Don’t stay stuck!