Good and Bad Feelings



The human eye sees everything but itself. We cannot always help ourselves because we are too close to the forest to see the trees.

We cannot evaluate ourselves objectively.  We are biased in our own favor.  We assume, “If I have this feeling or opinion, it must be right, or why else would I have it?  Since it is right, why should I bother replacing it with something that doesn’t make sense to me.”  To be wrong is scary and most of us lack the courage to examine, let alone change our feelings.

Cognitive insight is not the end of the counseling process–it is the beginning.  There is more to the healing process than intellectual insight into one’s mistaken ideas, or cognitions.

Human beings, unlike rats in a maze, have feelings about themselves.  They also have feelings about their thoughts.  Complicating the process is that human beings have feelings about their feelings. Specifically, many people feel badly about feeling badly, thus increasing their pain.

There also seems to be a common pattern to the ways we feel about each specific emotion. For example, anxious people say it’s “stupid to worry about something so unlikely”. I also hear things like “I hate feeling sad and crying because it means I’m weak” and “it’s not good to be angry because nothing good comes from it”.

It’s unfortunate that so many people distrust their emotions. People are often told to focus on objective facts instead of feelings. A pervasive distrust of emotion is evident in stock phrases like “Sorry—I wasn’t thinking.” Rarely does anyone say, “Sorry—I wasn’t feeling.”

It’s true that strong feelings can interfere with clear thinking. But not being aware of your feelings interferes with your well-being.
Your feelings are related to both your mind and your body.

There is no one way to define a feeling. Since emotions are intangible. how do we grasp and wrap our are around them? When you see someone crying, you have no way of knowing whether that person is in physical pain, overwhelmed by grief, laughing, or if they just finished slicing an onion. There is no single event or object to which everyone will have the same emotional response. That’s why behavior alone is such a poor indicator of what someone else is feeling.

We learn from other people and one major lesson is that behavior does a better job at conveying emotions than using our words. What many don’t know is that the expression of anger doesn’t have to involve behaviors like yelling or hitting, just as the expression of sadness doesn’t have to include crying, and the expression of fear doesn’t have to mean hiding or running away.

Many of us were taught that some feelings are bad and others are good. In truth, however, feelings are neither good nor bad. Feelings just are. If we listen to our emotions and understand what they mean, then we can address them, and their intensity will fade. But if we ignore what our emotions are telling us, then our feelings build up, and we may eventually express them through destructive behavior.

Photo by Zeusandhera

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Shared by: Aaron Karmin, LCPC, Contributing Blogger

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