People make feeling seem so simple. “Just lean into it” they say, “be present with it” they say. What does that actually mean though?
Lets learn from Louis CK.
There are 4 things we need to understand when we talk about feelings
1. We are hard-wired to feel
- Emotions are how we make sense of our world, it guides us towards what is healthy for us or not by making us feel stronger or weaker
- Whether we like a poem, a movie, decor, a person- it all comes down to how it made us feel based on a combination of our past experiences mixed with our current state. We tend to come up with “rational” reasons why we like or dislike things after the fact. Part of that is because our society emphasizes logic over emotions, but emotions are still driving the bus, logic is just covering for them!
2. Emotions come up automatically, but whether or not we pass them depends on us
- When we learned that certain emotions are not ok for us to show, like anger or sadness etc (usually because it made it less likely that we would get our needs met at some point), we used “defenses” to try to get rid of them or mask them
- This means that although they come up automatically in our bodies, we and others may not be aware of them while we are using “defenses” to protect ourselves from acknowledging them (See link about Triangle of Conflict for refresher)
- The only way to “feel it” is to be curious about the feeling, make space for it and reassure ourselves or self soothe when defenses come up
3. Emotions are balls of energy
- We have all had the energized feeling of wanting to DO something when we are angry, or felt tired after a good cry – this is because emotions are balls of energy
- When we have learned that certain feelings are not ok, or we don’t know what to do with them, we will automatically push them away
- This blocks the natural passage of that energy, and it gets redirected in to Anxiety or Defenses
- We know if we are actually experiencing a feeling or if we are in anxiety or defense because all of our energy is actually in our present experience, whether that is feeling happy or sad or angry etc. So whenever we are needing to put energy into convincing ourselves or others that we are feeling anything different than what we are, it drains our energy and we feel weaker. It makes sense when you think about it, of course it is exhausting to pretend everything is fine when it is not.
4. Positive and Negative Emotions track together
- We don’t like being upset, so if we don’t know of a better way to deal with it, we stuff it, and physiologically, it is like all the positive and negative emotions are in an enclosed space
- So when one starts to build because we are stuffing it, like anger or resentment, it starts to encroach on the other
- These are situations where we can still list the other person’s good qualities, but we don’t really connect to them. It is almost like they don’t count because our negative feelings are overshadowing them
- But we don’t like being upset with people we care about in particular, so we then we try to protect them from those “negative” feelings by using defenses to make them go away as much as possible by detaching or distracting etc
- Unfortunately the avoidance is often worse than the experience of the feeling itself (join us next week for more information on how we avoid feelings)
- This is why we often feel better after a good cry or why sometimes when good things happen, we have a moment of feeling good, but then it brings up all sorts of past hurts and grief that are emotionally connected to the situation.
- So if you are feeling weaker, be curious and lean into the emotion! Based purely on biology, you WILL feel better on the other side. You may have multiple waves of difficult feelings, but they will pass and as Louis CK says, the antibodies to the bad feelings will come up!
Check out this 5 min video clip of Louis CK showing us how all of this is done- in a funny way as usual!