All About Feelings

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Feelings are the purest form of self-information and feedback. They are the indicator light on your dashboard, your personal barometer and news bulletin. Feelings are your indicators. They tell you what state you are in, mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually and socially, at any time. If a light indicates to check your engine, would you snip the electrical wire to make it go away? No! You would follow the signal to find the problem. Feelings indicate that things are either going well, or if there is a problem.

Feelings spring from what you think, current thought choices or past life experiences stored in your memory bank. Feelings reflect the quality of your own self-care, relationships, job satisfaction, and indicate the nature of your relationship to your Higher Power. Feelings in your physical body can affect you general health.

If you feel good most of the time, keep doing what you’re doing. If you feel bad a lot, this is your mind and body’s merciful way of letting you know, you need to do something to take care of yourself.

A sliver lodged under the skin is a foreign intruder, so the body is signaling to get it out! Because of the symptom of pain you are motivated to extract the problem sliver and stop the pain. Seems pretty simple, doesn’t it? But when it comes to less obvious reasons for pain, like emotional pain, we try to evade, numb, escape, deny, ignore, blame or resort to some other defense mechanism to resolve the problem. (refer to Defense Mechanisms article in Boundaries chapter.) This would be the same as covering the sliver with a Band- Aid; numbing it, taking a mind-altering substance to hide the pain, or hitting the sliver to punish it for being there. These methods seem silly when dealing with a sliver in the skin, but how often do we use the same methods when dealing with other kinds of unwanted feelings?

Numbing, medicating, evading, or ignoring your feelings is the same as cutting the electrical wire to your dashboard indicator light. The symptom is gone but the original problem causing the pain remains unresolved and could lead to greater difficulties later on. Be leery of temporary fixes because the initial problem remains. Defense mechanisms, in their attempt to eliminate unpleasant feelings, prevent vital information that could help you make appropriate choices to effectively fix the problem. Attempts to suppress negative feelings can also suppress pleasant ones, too.

Feelings are neither right nor wrong, they just are. They are actually blessings that tell you your state of being. Paying attention to your feelings gives you information on which to base your decisions. Feelings are the indicators that tell you how you need to care for yourself.

There is a condition called H.S.A.N. (Hereditary Sensory and Autonomic Neuropathy) where a person is born with no feeling sensation in the body. It is easy to cause permanent damage or death to ones self when there is no pain to warn of danger or damage. One might think a life without pain would be desirable, but the experience reported by those who have the disease, is otherwise. They can unknowingly destroy vital parts of their body without being aware. Feelings, even painful feelings are blessings. They are your insurance that you deliver needed attention. Pay attention to them, listen to them and try to pick up on what they are telling you.

Feelings may be indicating:

  • The quality of your thinking habits.
  • There might be unresolved memories still affecting you today
  • Self-neglect or poor boundaries
  • The quality of the belief systems that run your life.
  • You’re being abused or mistreated by others and it’s time to set appropriate boundaries

and take care of yourself.

You are abusing others and feel guilty about it?

The quality of your relationships

Body feelings tell you about the quality of your nutrition, physical health or the quality

of the physical environment in which you are living.

Along with conscious logic and reasoning, feelings tell you what is right for you, where

to live, what job you would enjoy, what you enjoy doing, etc.

Consistent happy, empowered feelings indicate you are taking care of yourself, you

have good boundaries, positive thinking and a high self-esteem and such.

A vital part of your self-care, codependency recovery protocol is to rid yourself of toxic emotions in a healthy way. Listen to and learn from all of your feelings and thereafter effectively release them. Place the most positive perception on all life events and make practical, logical decisions accordingly. All negative feelings need to find a safe, constructive way to be vented at the time that a negative life events occur.

Other feelings that need to be vented are those associated with unresolved life experiences and belief systems stored in your memory bank. A current life event that reminds you of an old, stored unresolved issue can trigger a full memory of the original toxic emotion stored. Those old, left over feelings from the past need to find a safe and healthy way to be vented also. Venting discharges the power and unpleasantness of the feelings. So it is important to learn how to release feelings in a way that will help rather than hurt you.

Here are the rules for venting emotions, past or present:

Don’t hurt yourself Don’t hurt others Don’t hurt property

Healthy ways to vent feelings:

Subconscious RE-Programming
Talk feelings out
Crying them out
Write feelings out on paper, then immediately destroy the paper
Punching a pillow or punching bag so you get the emotion out but no one, including you, gets physically hurt

Talking about the unpleasant feeling to an empty chair or talking out loud when you are alone
Running: pound out the emotion(s) out on the pavement
Talk to a safe person who will not judge or try to fix you or gossip about your private information to others.

Scream your feelings into a non-populated area or into a pillow Throw rocks into a field
Beat a stick, bat or fist on something

Be creative, come up with your own way to release emotion, but just keep DO IT until all emotions have been vented and reduced sufficiently. If your feelings start at a 10 (on a scale of one to ten), continue releasing until you can get them down to a zero. This can be rather time consuming and painful as you are venting the pain, but it is worth it in the long run to get the pain out of its temporary storage place in YOU! Releasing emotions on your own can seem painful, but in order to move past the pain you must let it pass through and OUT OF YOU. For much quicker relief of emotions you can use Subconscious RE-Programming and skip a lot of the pain. But it works the same whether you do it alone or with the help of a therapist.

Once you are on the other side of those feelings, you’ll find it much easier to see any situation from a logical perspective and make more rational decisions. When feelings are adequately released, put the most positive perception on each event that caused the bad feelings. From positive perceptions spring positive feelings. Then make logical decisions to take care of yourself or the situation as best as you can.

By doing you feeling work, you are allowing painful life experiences to settle into storage in your memory bank as resolved. If feelings are not expressed and processes at the time they happen, they are stored in your memory bank along with their associated life experiences. What is stored on your memory bank spills over into you current life, so it is to your benefit to clear negative emotions as they happen rather than ignoring or running from them.

Feelings handled in either extreme become toxic and become hurtful rather than helpful.

It is not feelings themselves that are they problem, it is how they are used that causes them to work for you or against you.

If you are out of touch with your own feelings, you may be out of touch with how other people’s words and actions are affecting you and you may be out of touch with how your words and actions may be affecting others.

Example: Only after Ellen became aware of how hard she had been on herself with her perfectionistic tendencies, could she see how hard she had been on her children. Because pain was a normal state to Ellen, she couldn’t see the pain her words and actions were inflicting upon her children.

When feelings are ignored.

Feelings that are ignored or stuffed away, add up. They do not go away. Everything you experience is stored in your memory bank, and that includes FEELINGS. Venting feelings is like letting air out of a balloon. As you feel, you release.

Mistaken belief about Feelings

Some people believe that some feelings are bad, embarrassing or should be suppressed or avoided. Some people were punished as children for having and expressing their feelings. Some were allowed only to have or express certain feelings. Denying yourself or others feelings is abuse; it’s like an airline trying to function without the benefit of a weather report or Air Traffic Controllers. It is suppressing a real and spontaneous response indicating your internal and external conditions at the time. It is your built-in protective mechanism giving you information to make rational, informed choices.

Feelings themselves are good, but denying them or expressing them an abusive way, can make them become destructive. All feelings should be felt and acknowledged so you can learn what they are trying to tell you. What you choose to do with your feelings is what makes them healthy or destructive.

Expressing feelings to others using “I” statements

When expressing feelings, make sure you own them. It is tempting to say, “You made me feel angry”, or “It’s your fault I’m hurt.” Giving another person the power to make you feel anything is giving your own power away. So, own your feelings as you express them. “I feel angry when you talk to me like that.” “When you didn’t keep your promise, I felt sad.” Own you own feelings. They are springing from you; you are responsible to deal with them.

Written and compiled by Helen Bair (A work in progress) ©2010 4

By expressing true emotions, it gives others a chance to know how you are feeling at the time and how their behavior or choices are affecting you. Covering true feelings is revealing a false message. Perhaps there is a time to put on a false smile, like when you’re still at work and you can’t fall apart yet. But promise yourself that when you get home, you’ll allow yourself to feel what you feel and GET IT OUT! As a general rule, it is wise to be honest about what you are feeling, just use an assertive, rather than aggressive style of communication to express feelings.

To allow feelings to become toxic can hurt you or others. Refrain from vomiting negative emotions on an innocent person, especially children or those who are weak or vulnerable. The opposite of suppressing feelings is turning feelings into a club to beat up yourself and/or others with. Venting your feelings on may make you feel better but is abusive to an unsuspecting recipient.

When feelings are denied direct expression directly, the tendency is for them to come out in an indirect manner.

Example: A person is so full of pain on the inside cuts herself to distract the the inner pain.

Example: A young mother may be so overwhelmed with the responsibilities of motherhood she takes her frustrations out on her children and hurts them.

Example: Dad is mad at his boss so he comes home and yells at mother. Mother is so angry with dad she yells at the kids, then kids kick the dog.

Covering true feelings with another one. Smiling or pretending that nothing is wrong sends the message “All is well” when it isn’t. Owning and expressing real feelings sends a clear message of the true nature of a problem, and makes way to find viable solutions. Better resolution is possible when you are in touch with genuine feelings.

Anger is sometimes called a secondary feeling. Anger is commonly used to cover fear, hurt, shame, and guilt. Some perceive anger more acceptable, macho, or powerful than the other feelings. Anger is a typical used as a defense mechanism to keep you from having to be aware of more unacceptable feelings or awareness. If you allow yourself to find a healthy vent for anger, you may find other feelings looming beneath. Dealing directly with genuine feelings can help release and resolve them.

Free expression of all feelings done in a healthy, moderate way with the intention of communicating, clarification and meeting needs helps build good relationships.

All feelings should be allowed and validated as long as feelings are expressed in a moderate, constructive way.

What Healthy Feelings are Telling You
Healthy Sadness 
indicates loss of something or someone who is important or dear to you. It teaches you to treasure and be thankful for what you have and love. The key to healthy sadness is to feel it, learn the lesson it is trying to teach you, find expression for it so you can move through it, release it and let it go. Then, to be thankful on the other side of it, for what you do have and enjoy, now.

Healthy Fear is your protective feeling, it keeps you out of harms way and reminds you to take measures to protect yourself. You want enough fear to lock your doors at night, never trust strangers, buckle your seatbelt and keep the traffic laws, etc. Healthy fear keeps you safer.

Healthy Guilt is the indicator that says you did something wrong and motivates you to take measures needed to rectify the situation and make things right, i.e. ask forgiveness, make restitution, repent, say you’re sorry, etc. Once you have taken care of your side of the guilty problem, forgive yourself, learn the lesson(s), let it go and move on.

Healthy Shame means: “God knows more than me and it would benefit me to depend on God rather than my own thinking”. Healthy shame is humility, which allows you to be teachable. Shame says, “I am no better than anyone else”. Healthy shame keeps you from running through the streets naked and displaying inappropriate behavior or things in front of others.

Healthy hurt or pain is a merciful signal telling your Conscious mind there is something wrong and it is the only part of your mind that can take measures to eliminate the cause of the pain. If you didn’t have the signal of pain, it would be easy to destroy your body, mind or relationships without awareness. Learn the lesson the pain/hurt is trying to teach you. Find healthy ways to eliminate the pain such as better “self care” or “other care”.

Pain/hurt/sad are usually the emotions that creates motivation to turn to God for relief and guidance. Allowing yourself to see painful events through God’s perspective, instead of your own, allows you to learn wisdom and growth, which brings comfort and peace.

Healthy Anger is an indicator that you or something dear to you has been violated. Anger motivates you to protect and preserve yourself, others, freedom, possessions, rights, etc. The intent of healthy anger is never to hurt others or property but to take measures to protect and defend what is being violated. Occasionally, protecting what is rightfully yours, may inflict injury to the violator.

Written and compiled by Helen Bair (A work in progress) ©2010 6

Example: America’s reaction to the attack on Pearl Harbor was healthy anger as a reaction to a just cause. Many were hurt on both sides before peace and personal rights could be restored.

Sustained happiness, joy and love indicate that what you’re doing is working and to continue doing it. Happiness springs from a healthy connection to God, a good self esteem, serving others, positive thinking, good boundaries, taking care of your physical health, working through painful events as they happen, learning the lessons, then letting go and moving on.

Feelings, like everything else can get out of balance. Toxic feelings can be abusive to you or others. Following are some examples of toxic feelings:

Toxic sadness

Suppress or deflect sadness instead of feeling it
Ruminate endlessly over past losses, failures, etc.
Unresolved sadness stuck in the memory bank associated with unresolved memories
Belief that because you’ve experienced sadness you can never get past it (stinkin’ thinkin’)
Chronic Stinkin’ Thinkin’ which produces chronic stinkin’ feelings
Failing to do your grief work after a death, divorce or other major loss
Taking on other peoples emotions (poor emotional boundaries)
Discount or diminish your feelings or others

Sadness is meant to be felt, learned from, and then released so you can move past it. Sadness, when dealt with appropriately, helps you appreciate good times and all your blessings.

Toxic Fear

Chronic worry about all that could go wrong
Fear based belief systems
Unresolved fear-based experiences from the past
Ungrounded fear keeps a person from taking risks necessary for progress Perpetrators or opportunists using fear as a weapon to control their victims
Focusing on all that could go wrong or the worst case scenario

Fear used to control or manipulate young, powerless, and victims Well-meaning people using fear to motivate positive behaviors Fear of going to hell intending to inspire a person to do good Keeping a child from making own choices and taking risks

Toxic fear keeps a person from assertive, constructive confrontation to resolve problems

Toxic fear tactics can be used to gain compliance or control others. A person with poor emotional boundaries may become a fear-based child/person. People who are fear based make their life decisions based on fear rather than their own logical thinking, internal knowing and relationship with God. This is tragic because it cuts a person off from progress, success and enjoying their true, genuine self.

Toxic Shame

Usually a result of abuse
Low Self Esteem
“Worthless, Not good enough, I’m bad”, belief systems Allow others to determine your worth
Compare yourself to others.
Allow others to hurt or take advantage of you
Won’t try, convinced you’ll fail
Look externally for internal validation
Can’t accept compliments
Constantly apologizing for self

Toxic shame is immobilizing because it strikes at the deepest essence of YOU. Shame the quality of the relationship you have with yourself.

Example: Shame based people tend to find themselves in relationships with people who treat them with the same lack of value as they have for themselves. Shame based people have a hard time accepting love even if it freely given to them.Toxic Shame is usually a result of abuse and is always the state underlying addictions and codependency.

Toxic Guilt

Can’t let go of past mistakes, continue to beat self up over them
Toxic guilt is also a tool manipulative people use to try and get compliance from others.
Guilt yourself when you haven’t done anything wrong
Take responsibility for another person’s wrong doing. Apologize when someone else makes a mistake
Allow guilt to motivate you to needlessly overdo
Can’t say “no.” Say “yes” when you mean “no.”
Guilt when you set boundaries
Can’t be honest because it might cause bad feelings
Neglect self-care because you feel guilty or selfish
Guilt that causes you to take on someone else’s problems when they should be responsible for them
Guilt that keeps you from disciplining your children
Guilt for not enabling and allowing others to be responsible for themselves

Toxic Fear and Guilt and Religion

Tragically, toxic guilt and/or toxic fear are powerful manipulative tactics used by many advocating God or religion in order to get compliance. This form of manipulation drives a wedge between a person and God. Using toxic fear or guilt to get compliance is religious or spiritual abuse. God seems violent, controlling or manipulative. When a person taps into the real source of God s/he finds God is loving, nurturing, and helpful, which is far from the toxic fear and guilt tactics some people preach.

Toxic hurt or pain

Identify with your pain. “Life’s a bitch and then you die”. Inflicting pain as a tool to manipulate or control others Putting on a smile when you are hurting
Inflict pain to body to punish self

Inflict pain to body to distract from inner pain
Inflicting pain on another
Unresolved hurt or pain from the past stored in memory bank affecting your present life
Hide hurt behind defense mechanisms

Toxic Anger

Suppressed anger
Suppressed anger, which may turn into an explosion of rage if not vented properly.
Turning anger into violence on the self; suicide, cutting, self condemnation Hold on to resentments of past offenses; unforgiving
Anger as a defense mechanism to hide fear, hurt, shame, guilt
Anger used to gain compliance, humiliate, gain power-over
Used as a secondary feeling to hide other emotions that are difficult to face Passive-aggressvie anger meant to inflict harm but look innocent

Toxic “Feel Good”

Addictive high creating euphoria, but sets up a pattern of destructive behaviors Failing to take action for fear of facing discomfort, stress or responsibility Belief system that one must “feel good” all the time to be happy

Resolution to toxic “Feel Good” feelings is to find how to feel good in a healthy way. Recovery from Codependency patterns, counseling, AA 12-step groups and subconscious mind resolution work are all helpful in finding healthy, “feel good” feelings that can be sustained for a lifetime.

Toxic Happy Yes, happy can be toxic, too. How, you ask?

When happiness is used as a defense mechanism to cover up true feelings needing expression that lurk beneath the surface.

Happy can also be toxic when a person is not allowed to feel or express any other feelings but happy feelings. This is like covering a pile of manure with daisies. It looks better, but it still stinks. Toxic happiness isn’t really happiness, it’s just forced to look that way.

Feelings and Addiction

Addicts will tell you they indulge in addictive behaviors or substances to change the way they feel. However, the good feeling produced by the addictive substance or behavior only produce temporary relief, then create worse feelings in the long run. Recovery from addiction always entails healing negative feelings and entertaining new positive thinking which results in positive feelings.

One way to help prevent the development of addictions is to find plenty of healthy ways to make life feel good. The illusive addictive high is only an attempt to find a substitute for the real thing. By self care, setting good boundaries, working on your self-esteem and creating a supportive, happy life, you help eliminate the need escape negative feelings.

Resist the temptation to discount feelings or shut down their expression:

“I got my feelings hurt!” Reply: “Come on, it wasn’t that bad! What’s wrong with you?” “I’m really angry.” Reply: “No you’re not. Get over it.”
“I hate my teacher.” 
Reply: “You’re not suppose to hate anybody.”
“I feel so discouraged.” “You shouldn’t be discouraged. You have so many blessings.”

Instead, find an affirming way to respond:

“I got my feelings hurt!” Reply: “You did! Tell me about it.”
“I’m really angry!” Reply: “I can see you’re angry and hear it in your voice. Do you want to talk about it?”
“I hate my teacher.” Reply: “What happened that you feel that way.”
“I feel so discouraged.” Reply: “You feel discouraged, huh? Tell me more about that.”

Resist the temptation to compare feelings:

“I’m hurting so bad.” Reply, “That’s nothing! I went through was much worse.

Try something like this instead:

“I’m hurting so bad.” Reply, “I’m sorry you’re hurting badly.  Is there anything I can do to help?”

Validating Feelings: It is important to validate feelings and honor your right and the right of others to feel and express them appropriately.
“I can see you are angry.”
“You look very sad.” “It’s okay to cry.”

“ I can sense your aggravation.”

Ask open ended questions to seek for a deeper understanding.

“I can see you look irritated.” Reply: “What is going on?”
“I hate my teacher!” 
Reply: “What happened that caused you to hate your teacher?” “I feel so discouraged.” “Oh really, what’s going on that you are feeling discouraged.”

Validating feelings shows acceptance of true expression. True expression of feelings gives permission to vent them. Venting feelings leads to clarity of the issues at hand and the ability to make good logical choices based on your findings. As you allow yourself to have and vent your feelings you learn the lessons they are trying to teach you.

Anger means you have been offended and need to take measures protect yourself. Once you learn the lesson, let the anger go.
Fear means you need to protect yourself and connect with God.
Guilt means you need to make changes and apologize.

Shame means you are less than perfect and no better than anyone else. Toxic shame means you need to do some work on your self esteem.
Sadness makes you appreciate what you have and love instead of taking it for granted. Loneliness means you are disconnected from part of yourself and/or God.

Refuse to listen to feelings expressed in an abusive way until they can be expressed appropriately.
(A person yells in a hostile) 
“What did you do that for?”
Reply in moderate, assertive tone. “I’ll be happy to talk with you about that matter just as soon as you can lower your voice and talk to me in a rational way.”