Why, in so many situations, do we run from our feelings? Why do we try to avoid certain feelings, and then attempt to hold onto other feelings? Why are feelings so misunderstood?
I have to admit, for the first two to three decades of my life, I did those things. I tried my best to consistently be happy, but that did not work out so well; the happiness was fleeting at best. I also would attempt to deny or run away from anger. I had been conditioned to believe that getting angry meant becoming eventually violent. Since I had already had enough violence for one lifetime, and I did not want to be a violent person, I attempted to avoid becoming angry.
I didn’t care much for sadness either; it didn’t feel good, not to mention that overall effect it had on everything I encountered throughout the period of sadness. I did not have the same relationship with sadness that I had with anger because I had been conditioned differently regarding sadness. Sadness was almost commonplace, a familiar place, it was the place that I knew most.
I also had a different relationship with fear. Fear didn’t bother me so much; that too was rather commonplace, but for some reason, fear fueled me, it motivated me. It’s interesting looking back on it now, but I could say fear was my saving grace. I feared that my life was always going to be based in sadness and anger, and it motivated me to begin to change. Fear motivated me to look into my life, take responsibility for my life, accept my past, and to start to build a future that was not based upon the doom and gloom of living a sad and angry life. Yes, fear motivated me to begin therapy, it motivated me to look beyond my religious teachings, it motivated me to be more spiritual, to meditate, to start to study psychology, and it motivated me to understand the psychology of feelings.
As time passed, I can honestly say life changed; it no longer was based upon the doom and gloom of sadness or anger, and fear no longer was a motivating force in my life. Somehow, somewhere along the line, love for myself, love for life, and a desire to share what I had come to realize, I became a life coach.
As a life coach, I see that many people do not understand feelings in general. I see that most people are attempting to hold onto a certain feeling because it feels good, even though they have no understanding of why it feels good. I also see people being afraid of their feelings; they spend a lifetime trying to run away from their feelings.You cannot do either of these things. It is my desire to enlighten you about the psychology of feelings, what they are, what they mean, and what they are trying to tell you.
Feelings are nothing to fear, they are simply to be understood, accepted, and honored. They are a magnificent attribute of being human. Feelings add to the deliciousness of life; some are sweet, some are savory, some are bitter, some are even bittersweet. When put all together, you have a satisfied palette. Feelings are also part of the orchestra of life. Feelings, like an orchestra, have high notes, low notes, sharps, flats, and crescendos, and this is what makes an orchestra beautiful. Think for just a moment how tedious it would be to sit and listen to an orchestra with only one or two notes through the whole piece; it would get so boring. It would also be a very boring life with only one or two emotions throughout a whole lifetime. So let’s begin the process of understanding our feelings, and what they are telling us.
Feelings tell us about ourselves, and they tell us about our judgments and perception of what is happening around us, and to us, at any given point. Feelings tell us about our desires, our wants, and whether those desires and wants are being met or not. Yes, your feelings tell you about your desires, and they also tell you whether those desires are being met or not. For example, when you are experiencing happiness, your want, your desire is being met. When you are sad or angry, your desire is not being met. Think about that for just a moment, let that sink in; your feelings tell you about your desires, and whether that desire is being met.
Yes, it is all about YOUR desires. In other words, you are the one creating your feelings. It is your mind, your thoughts that are creating the feelings you experience. Yes, feelings are self inflicted, self induced. Yes, the thought that you are having may be focused on someone or something else, but ultimately, it is YOUR thought about it. Your feelings are occurring because of your thought processes, irrelevant of the subject matter. That being said, once you begin to truly see that as a psychological truth, you no longer can blame someone else for making you feel a certain way.
Feelings come in many shapes and sizes. They also have many different degrees and intensities; but that being said, there are only five feelings: Fear, Love, Anger, Sadness or Happiness. Yes, each of these five feelings have many degrees or intensities, and we give those degrees different names. Those different names are considered our emotions. Emotions are subcategories; our interpretation or judgment of these five feelings. This is significant to know because when we focus on the emotion, we never truly get to the real, base feeling. This is not beneficial. Again, feelings are to be understood, accepted, and honored, and when we spin off-course focusing on the emotion, we never get to the understanding, accepting, or honoring of the base feeling. In many situations, you may be labeling or grouping more than one emotion together, and that too deters you from honoring the base feeling. A great rule of thumb is to ask yourself, “What exactly am I feeling? Am I feeling fear, love, anger, sadness or happiness?” Keep dissecting the emotion until you can decipher exactly what it is that you are feeling. Then you can begin the process of understanding why you are feeling that way. Once understood, then you can begin to accept that you are the one that is creating it, and then you can begin to honor it.
Feelings are transient; they come and they go. It may not look as such, especially when the mind is on an incessant loop about something. During those times, the feelings may appear to become more intense; but again, it is your mind that is creating those feelings. Yes, feelings change as your thoughts change. There is a school of thought that teaches, ‘change your thoughts, and your feelings will change.’ There is validity, and liberation, to this school of thought; however, there is not total freedom in this approach. Yes, liberation is a temporary freedom, but not the long lasting freedom that comes from being a master of the mind. True mastery comes from being able to see the mind, observing the mind, and not buying into the stories, labels, or judgments that the mind is giving the situation or moment at hand. Someone that has begun to be the master of the mind sees the chaotic nature of the mind. The master knows that they do not have control over the conditioned, thinking mind. Yes, the master can direct his mind, and they will up to a point, but at some point, the master knows that they just have to disengage from the mind, and let the incessant loop play itself out, and not buy into it while it is doing so.
The master of the mind knows the difference between having a thought arise, and thinking about the thought that has just arisen. Yes, you cannot, and do not have the power to stop a thought from happening, but you sure do not have to think about that thought; you can just let it be. This is not to say that arising thoughts don’t create feelings, because they do, but the chance of that thought building momentum and intensifying the feelings are greatly diminished simply because you are not focusing on or participating with that arising thought. In my opinion, Vipassana meditation is the best tool or technique that can help you with this. Vipassana meditation will show you how to observe the mind, to observe the thought, and observe the feeling that the thought is creating. Once you learn this technique, and practice it during your meditation time, it is much easier to do so when you are not meditating, when you are moving through life. I know sometimes it seems more like you are being dragged through life, but that is because of your reaction to life. The key is learning how to respond to life, and that includes responding to your feelings, rather than reacting to them. As you become more practiced at observing the thoughts that pass through the mind, you also become more practiced at observing the feelings that are being felt. Observing the feelings will then allow you to stop running from your feelings, and then to understand, accept, and honor the feeling itself, the thoughts that are creating it, and the situation at hand.
Running from your feelings is futile, simply because you cannot run away from yourself, and you are the one that is creating the feelings that are being felt. Rather than running from, or trying to hold onto, begin to allow the fleeting feeling to be felt, understood, and then honored. Once you do that, you will begin to truly taste the deliciousness of life, and you will begin to enjoy the orchestra.
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