It’s a simple thing really isn’t it. Feelings. They are what your feel, from stubbing your big toe to having your first kiss there is a whole host of sensations and emotions that accompany us throughout our lives; that largely dictate if life is going to be an enriching experience for us.
Feelings make up so much of who we are, imagine Marvin the Depressed Robot if he wasn’t depressed, or any number of the Mr Men and Little Miss book’s characters. If we didn’t feel and thus express ourselves in certain ways we wouldn’t be quite who we are, or in some cases even recognisable. Identifying our feelings truthfully can be much harder than we think. As children we are barely given a compass to navigate the simplest of emotions of happy and sad, little less embrace their own vulnerabilities. We wonder why toddlers are frustrated. They don’t have the understanding or the words to express their inner feelings.
There are so many feelings from ecstasy to agony yet we rarely pinpoint them when they occur. If we did we might find out a lot more about out ourselves. In fact admitting to our emotions can be some of our most courageous inner work. I mean let’s just look at the German word of schadenfreude it’s with a wry sense of discomfort that most of us can admit to taking delight in another misfortune. Yet it’s an emotion many of us have felt without openly admitting to.
Often we feel things that seem extreme, unconnected, reactionary, delayed even inappropriate and we wonder why? Our lives can be dominated by powerful emotions many of us are fuelled by rage, even righteousness or driven by love and compassion. We can even have shame based reactions to our emotions believing we should be stronger, unaffected, that vulnerability is a crime and weakness is some kind of societal disease.
When we unpack our emotions we can soon begin to see that black and white situations become grey and our feelings are far more complex and graduated than we might ever have thought. Slowly we can see that our internal dialogues and inner landscapes are skewed by the stories that we tell ourselves based on feelings we are attached to and belief systems that we have undertaken. If we follow our feelings we have the ability to find deep meaningful answers to some of our most pressing musings.
As adults we can wildly spring from hurt to angry and forget all about betrayed, disappointed and sad. What if we said “I’m sad you betrayed me?” What if we knew where the hurt came from? And rather than say “You hurt me” “I am disappointed because I expected you to keep your word?”
Observing our feelings can provide our greatest insights into ourselves. If we look deeper rage can give way to resentment, resentment can give way to resistance, then eventually resistance yields. When we acknowledge our feelings we can allow them to change themselves.