Navigating the Feelings that Lie to Us

Feeeeeeeelings, nothing more than feelings... and the really real impact they have on reality.

Navigating the Feelings that Lie to Us
Photo by Nik / Unsplash
Nick from New Girl saying "if we needed to talk about feelings, they would be called talkings"

Let's talk about feelings.

Feelings are weird. That's both an observation and a piece of information you're going to have to accept for this post to make sense. Feelings can be as amazing as they can be irrational, invasive, and downright unwanted.

They are somehow a part of our makeup as humans, yet also separate from us, often arising without our conscious input. As an added complication, they can be very difficult to control.

When you're feeling certain things, especially things that are unpleasant, many people will be quick to encourage you to remember feelings aren't real. Sure, it's true that feelings may not align with reality, but that doesn't mean the feelings themselves aren't real. And feelings, especially the icky messy ones, often linger as they demand one simple thing: to be felt.

When a person tries to ignore or squash negative feelings, they can remain in the body, creating havoc at later, guaranteed to be inconvenient times.

Sarah Connor saying "I'll be back"

And then they came back.

I had a therapist who used to love to say "feelings buried alive never die." This is about those kinds of feelings, the ones that were pushed down because they were too big or scary or... wrong. The emotions we cut ourselves off from because we lacked either the ability or motivation to confront them head on a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. You know, childhood, probably!

I can't draw a direct parallel to the cause of my fear of abandonment, but boy, do I hold one. It somehow seeped in along the way as a deeply held belief I can't battle with logic alone. If something happens that triggers that feeling in me, I'm going for a ride. There will be panic, my chest will physically tighten, and I'm going to experience very negative feelings for a time.

What I have found is that the length of that time depends on how I approach the feelings.

Two Incidents.

I'll give two separate, wildly differing examples to show you what I mean:

a man running in the room saying "I'm here to break the glass."

One day I was re-hanging a couple pictures that had fallen and ended up surrounded by glass, with a minor cut on my hand. Factor in whatever level of depression and c-ptsd you'd like, but I had the sudden urge to self-harm. To see more blood, to be in pain. It's sad and twisted and an all around BAD IDEA. Instead of sitting around and engaging with that desire, or trying to reason with it, I texted three safe people and simply told them what happened and that I was having the urge.

Why? Because something about bringing those kind of dark feelings into the light takes their power away. The urge didn't go away immediately, but I no longer felt like I was drowning in it. Acknowledging the feeling lessened it's impact.

Dave Franco saying "you unfollowed me?"

The second is a strange one to put in a post since it's about the newsletter itself, but hey, it's what reminded me to talk about this as a topic at all, so it goes in. I happened to notice while setting up one of my recent posts that someone had unsubscribed. Logically, that's completely fine. Not everyone is interested in the things I post about and that's okay. I have some irl people I would never invite to view these writings and others who it's just not their thing. You don't have to read anything I say. Put your eyeballs on things you enjoy. All good.

That's what logical me says (and means), but inner-child-emotional-me freaked out and had a panic attack as if I'd been ghosted by the person whose opinion mattered most to me. The very idea of follower counts and analytics push me near nausea as it is, and I couldn't control the obvious overreaction from a physical standpoint. Tight chest, heart in my throat, terribly uncomfortable. I have guesses about why it happened, what's underlying it, but it happened nevertheless.

So, I immediately texted a friend and explained the scenario and my feelings about it. We had a quick back and forth about how someone unfollowing is a nonstarter and has nothing to my worth as a person, which logically, I already knew. I really just reached out because I didn't want to get caught up in a spiral of voices about how I'm the worst and everyone will (or wants to) leave me. I needed a trusted outside voice to help break the cycle.

Betty White from Golden Girls saying "Well, what do you know. It works!"

Gosh golly gee!

Guess what? It worked in both instances. Not in a flash, but much faster than if I'd tried to fight my proverbial demons alone. Experience has taught me that, at the very least.

Does this resonate with anyone?

I've essentially come to the conclusion that, sometimes, in order to move forward and really grow and embrace your whole self, you have to let the rational and irrational live side-by-side.

And that's okay. Feel the weird feelings that demand to be felt, acknowledge their presence, and then move on with reality.