Accessing and Sharing Your (Real) Feelings

To function as aware adults, particularly in relationships, we need to be able to be in touch with our real feelings. We also need to be able to share these in 'clean' or authentic ways with other people. This may take a little practice if we have been told for most of our life that it is not OK to do this. Feelings are a real and natural part of living. Not having feelings is only a short step away from not being alive. There are many healthy ways to feel our feelings and share them with others.

There are some things to avoid if you want to connect with your feelings in an authentic way and when it comes to sharing feelings with others. As with any other part of personal growth it helps to have a few guidelines for communicating about ‘feelings’. The trouble is that remembering ‘guidelines’ involves logical thought and thinking is the very thing that breaks the connection with real feelings. The following points may however be worth keeping in mind.

1. There are no ‘bad’ emotions but there are many inappropriate ways of expressing them. Inner selves often misinterpret feelings or report our feelings inaccurately. Any statement about a feeling that includes the words ‘you’ or ‘because’ suggests an inner self is probably doing the talking. A person in an aware adult state talks about his or her feelings more inwardly. It might just be ‘I feel joy’. Or they might describe the adult state of being (I am happy, I am angry).
On the other hand, a statement ‘I feel you are lying’ is a thought, not a feeling. ‘I’m feeling sad because you are so angry’ is not a 'clean' way of communicating a feeling. An interpretation of another person’s feelings as in ‘I feel you don’t care’ is not describing the speaker’s own feelings which might be fear, pain or anger. It’s much the same with a prediction about what another person might do, ‘I feel afraid you are going to leave me.’ These are all indications that the inner selves are doing the talking not the aware adult. An ‘I’ statement free of ‘you’, ‘because’ or any other kind of explanation is the only clean or authentic way of  sharing a feeling verbally. Fortunately there are lots of non-verbal ways and most of these are more accurate and honest anyway.

2.  The selves are also inclined to attribute the cause of our emotions to other selves or to another person (He makes me feel ...) or as an outcome of things the selves are doing, assigning the reason for the feeling to the selves’ actions (‘When I am doing this I feel ...When you do that I feel .....’).

3. Other people who are uncomfortable about your feelings are usually people with poor boundaries and therefore many active selves. Don’t let their criticism or questions stop you having your feelings and experiencing the gifts that come from regularly acknowledging what you are feeling.

4. Asking someone for an explanation will block all but the most powerful emotions. An even better way to stop them experiencing an emotion is to tell them they shouldn’t feel that way and then ask for an explanation as to why they are doing so. (Did this happen to you as a child?)

‘Real’ feelings and ‘safe’ feelings
When people are asked how they are feeling, the most common answers ‘I feel good .. bad... OK.. all right .. rotten .. fine .. great.. down .. up ..’ are not describing real feelings. Rather, these terms suggest that the selves are playing it safe by avoiding sharing real feelings.
The list of ‘real feelings’ below is based on a similar one, created by Pia Mellody and the team of therapists at ‘The Meadows’ in Arizona to help people separate real feelings from the ‘safe’ kind above. It also highlights the truth that experiencing and being aware of feelings, even negative ones, is a healthy process. Each authentic feeling brings deep and valuable gifts with it.
I have an enlargement of this list on my office wall and when working with people whose emotions are blocked I use the list as a prompt, suggesting "Pick any three of the feelings on this list that you might be feeling right now." The first and second responses can be fairly predictable, but the third is often one of the more hidden (and more real) ones.

ADULT EMOTION              GIFTS WE GAIN WHEN WE FEEL AND OWN THESE FEELINGS AUTHENTICALLY

Lonely, alone -            helps me reach out to others - reach in to know myself

Joy - wellbeing -         helps me grow and to extend my goals for personal growth

Pain -                            increases my ability to heal - to face reality - to regrow

Sadness -                        develops my sense of empathy - ability to care for myself and others

Anger (adult)-                      energises my inner power and persistence to make changes in my life
                                       validates our right to be treated with some dignity and respect (Note: anger is
                              not the same as 'rage' which is what happens when a self takes over the feeling

Fear -                        strengthens self protection and boundaries - brings wisdom

Love -                    extends my ability to give unconditional nurturing - validation of my self
                               my inner  selves and my inner gifts

Shame -                     gives me adult humility - a sense of human-ness. I can and do make mistakes

Exhilaration -             gives me positive energy - power to enjoy life and persist until I succeed

Guilt -                        helps me set limits and have adult standards - gives me the
                                   energy and ability to make amends to others

Worthwhile -                helps grow my self esteem and gives me a positive outlook on life

Worthless -                makes me more ready to grow and climb upwards

Confused -               gives me the ability to understand other people’s confusion and doubt
                                 and the willingness to seek clarity about my own beliefs

Devastated -                helps me connect with my deepest core pain and my wounded inner child
                                 and to learn how to nurture them safely in grown up ways

Obviously there are lots more but these appear to me to be the most 'authentic' feelings, free of logical thought or other things that selves get involved with. Let me know if there are some more I should add.

 


Copyright John Nutting 1996 - - 2004  and      GROWING AWARENESS   All rights reserved World Wide   LAST UPDATE  Tuesday, 31 March 2009 11:54

Don't worry about these copyright notices at the foot of each page. It just means I want to hang on to legal ownership of what I write for use in future books.  Until that day, please feel free to copy and even adapt them for your own use and for friends as long as you acknowledge me as the author and owner of the copyright and you don't charge anyone for them. If you want to use them professionally or commercially (charge a fee for them) or for clients, each sheet you hand out must include full acknowledgment of copyright ownership as above and if  you are benefiting as a result, I would appreciate an appropriate sharing.

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