Facing Your Feelings
By Jim Hall, MS, Love Addiction Specialist
"Sometimes I couldn't tell you what I'm feeling if my life depended on it"
As love addicts, we frequently lose touch with the emotional parts of ourselves. Sometimes we withdraw emotionally to avoid being crushed. Being vulnerable and exposing our inner-selves is scary, sometimes it feels harmful.
Hurt is piled upon hurt, and it appears no one seems to care. It seems safer to just go away, cut off ourselves, and isolate. We become overloaded with pain, so we short-circuit to protect ourselves.
We may withdrawal emotionally from certain people-- people may hurt us once again. We do not trust, so we hide ourselves when we are around them.
When we come from a dysfunctional family system where were forced to withdraw our emotions, the fear to feel carries in our adulthood. We were not allowed to be honest with our feelings, so when we had them, we felt disgrace and alone.
We learned that if we showed feelings, we might be rejected and abandoned. Covertly or overtly, we were told, "don't feel that way", in fact, "don't even feel at all", may be the message we heard.
We quickly learned growing up that our feelings do not count, that our feelings are somehow wrong. In a sense, we felt dehumanized if we were to show our feelings.
Our feelings were not listened to and felt they did not count-- so we quit listening to them all together.
As adults, we sometimes try to force our feelings to go away because we are afraid of them. It may seem easier, at times to not feel at all. We feel so much responsibility because we have taken on so much responsibility for others around us.
We feel like we are responsible for what others do, say, or feel. In fact, other peoples feelings seem important, but we do not let ours be important.
To acknowledge how we really feel would demand a decision- an action or change on our part. It would bring us face to face with reality. We would become aware of our wants and needs, and what we may need to do differently. The fear of our feelings sometimes becomes too great.
Just how important are feelings anyway?
If you have ever been to counseling or have been in a recovery program, you were likely told you must "face your feelings." Many resist, because it is not fun at first. It can feel agonizing. It can feel like we are falling down a deep black hole with no escape. It can feel like the top of our head is ripping off. For many of us, it can even feel like dying when first coming to face our feelings.
As challenging as it is initially, facing our feelings will not kills us. It will not make you crazy or make you go insane. With courage and 'surrender', there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Coming to terms with our feelings heals.
We must let go of the lie that our feelings are not important to have. We must acknowledge our feelings are vital to who we are as precious human beings. We need to learning to recognize that facing our feelings is critical in becoming emotionally healthy. Facing our feelings can help us recovery.
Our feelings are very important. They count. They matter.
The emotional part of us all is special. If we avoid our feelings, push them away, we lose an important part of our lives. Feelings are our source of joy, contentment, as well as sadness, anger, and fear.
To be a human being, is to have and feel all our feelings. The emotional part of us is the part that smiles, laughs, as well as cries and feels sad. The emotional part of us allows us to feel close to others, to love, to be vulnerable.
Feelings are indicators.
Our feelings are also indicators. They can give us clues to ourselves, our lives. When we listen, they tell us where we are at and what is happening around us. They can be motivators and our protectors.
When we feel happy, we can know we are in a good place. Anger can help us solve a troublesome problem. Fear can encourage us to avoid certain dangers. Repeated hurt and emotional pain may tell us that we need to run away from a person or situation.
Feelings are energy. Repressing feelings blocks energy. We do not do well when we repress and hide from our feelings. Repressing feelings does not make them go away. They linger, sometimes growing stronger and causes us to do unhealthy things and make unhealthful choices.
When we try to hide from, escape from, discount and withdrawal from our feelings, we lose our positive feelings. We feel numb, nonexistent.
So what is the solution to learning to face your feelings?