Most of us have no idea why our feelings matter. Without any pretext feelings can be confusing at best and painful and overwhelming at worst. This can lead to us trying to avoid our feelings, especially uncomfortable ones, at all costs. We can only try to “not think about” or “get over” our feelings for so long before we realize, that those tactics only lead to disconnection, depression and avoidance behaviors like addiction.
In my hypnosis and life coaching work I am an advocate for feelings and help my clients reconnect to themselves on an emotional level. If we want to connect more authentically with ourselves, create better relationships and generally experience a happier, healthier life then what we feel matters very much.
Why are feelings so frightening?
Part of the answer is that we can’t consciously control our feelings because they are governed by the unconscious mind (UCM). Feelings are one way the UCM attempts to communicate and send vital information to our conscious mind. If we don’t have the tools to process the information these feelings carry then they can end up simply being frightening and overwhelming.
The second reason that feelings are frightening to us is that no one explains why they are important. Since feelings are not connected to a function they can seem pointless.
Imagine that you were given a car but never told what the gauges and lights on your car dashboard mean or how they are connected to the wellbeing of your car. Now imagine that the check engine light starts flashing but you don’t know what it means or even what an engine is. Perhaps the car starts acting strangely. If you didn’t know that the check engine light and the car engine are connected you wouldn’t have any idea what was happening. At some point you might guess that there seems to be a connection between the engine light and the car trouble you’re experiencing but you’re still left without any real understanding of what to do. In this scenario, instead of being helpful and informational, the check engine light is useless, threatening, confusing and frightening all because it isn’t connected to it’s function.
This is exactly what has happened with feelings. Feelings are meant to give us insightful information about the health of our Being-ness and what we need to be well. Just like the check engine light cannot be understood without it’s connection to the engine, feelings cannot be understood without their connection to needs. Feelings are informing us about our needs. We have fundamental needs that must be fulfilled for us to live full and happy lives. These needs are: to feel safe, connected (belonging), loved, empowered, and valuable. Ignoring or denying our feelings is as helpful as ignoring or denying the engine light on the car. There is only so long you can drive with a compromised engine before you have a full breakdown. Denial of our feelings is a from of self-rejection and self-harm that will build up and eventually lead to some kind of health crisis; an emotional, mental or physical break down.
Take a look below to see how the primary feelings are connected to a primary need:
Sad: Lost something important....Need to grieve
Lonely: Isolated, unconnected...Need to connect, belong
Anger: Something unjust, boundary violation, unmet need(s)...Need for justice, communication, better boundary
Pain: Something isn’t right...Need to stop and pay attention
Joy: Connected to your Being-ness...Need to share
Fear: Unsafe...Need for security
Shame: The lie that tells us we are less than...Need to know that we are enough
Our feelings are a guidance system, a line of communication from our unconscious minds to our conscious minds. Armed with this new understanding we can treat feelings with a new appreciation. Suddenly we can understand that all feelings are good because they are informational. Those “bad” or uncomfortable feelings are simply trying to let you know what you need to return to a place of well-being.
What can we do to start treating our feelings like they matter?
- We can stop avoiding our feelings and start feeling and listening to them. We have a right to feel what we feel and need what we need.
- Start a practice of asking yourself “What am I feeling?” throughout the day and pay attention to the messages you receive. Give yourself permission to care about how you feel.
- Boil the feeling down to one of the primary 7 feelings or a combination of them. Those 7 are listed in the table above. Eg: jealousy may be a combination of fear, anger and loneliness.
- Connect the feeling with the need. And if you cannot fulfill the need, because sometimes you can’t, then be present with how you feel about that. The point is to not abandon yourself so stay with the feelings and allow them to evolve.
- Treat your feelings as healing partners instead of something to “get past” or “get over”. Realize that feelings are vital information being sent to you from your inner self.
- Remember that although we cannot control what we feel we are responsible for what we do with out feelings so take time to process the feeling and need before taking any action.
Need help reconnecting to your feelings? Contact me or visit www.RESETHEALING.com
4 Tips to Gracefully Survive the Holidays with Food Sensitivities
The holiday season is upon us and for those of us passing on the pies, saying "no" to the eggnog or having to ask "what exactly is in this?" about every dish it can feel like we are allergic to the Holidays themselves. Having to smile, empty handed, while everyone else is noshing on delicious wheat filled, lactose ladened, nutty delights can be frustrating, depressing and isolating.
According to FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) an estimated 15 million Americans have food allergies and that number continues to rise. Eight foods account for 90 percent of all reactions: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish. Those may be the most common, but as the owner of a Wellness Center I have seen clients find out that they have allergies or sensitivity to everything from lettuce to sugar. No matter what the allergy, suddenly being unable to eat many of the food we take for granted can be stressful at the best of times let alone during holidays and family gatherings.
Having been gluten-free due to an allergy for over a dozen years I can empathize with the Holiday food blues. From Thanksgiving pies to Christmas cookies, gravy to matzah balls, food is a central part of our holiday, religious and family traditions. It is important to find ways to navigate the upcoming months so that we don't feel like we have to avoid the holidays themselves and not just some of the foods. Luckily there are some simple things you can do to help keep the season bright.
• Be Creative - Maybe you can't partake in some of those Holiday favorites but there are lots of options now for those with food allergies. Can't do dairy, look for vegan alternatives. No gluten, there are lots of gluten-free options and you might even find a bakery near you that offers gluten free goods. Many grocery stores are now carrying more allergy friendly foods. If your allergen is more obscure then there are plenty of recipes online for you to try out at home. Instead of looking for all the things you can't eat start looking at all the things you can. Be creative, you may surprise yourself and your family with some of the yummy alternatives you may find.
• Be Proactive - If everyone is coming to your house then you're in control of the food and can make sure that you have plenty of options. But if, like many of us, you will be going to a family or friend's place for the holiday meals then be proactive and call the person who will be in charge of the meal. If they don't already know about your food issues tell them ahead of time so that you can discuss options.
• Have a List - If you are lucky enough to have family or friends who are willing to cook alternative dishes or add extra food to the menu that you can eat make it easy for them. Send them a list of the foods you can't eat with easy substitutions. Having a list to refer to helps the person cooking avoid inadvertently using something you're allergic to. There are often sneaky foods that hold your allergen that someone who has never had to think about it might miss. Take gravy for example. Being gluten-free I can't eat gravy because flour is usually used to thicken it. Simply substitute cornstarch for the flour and you have a gluten free version. We can't expect someone to remember all the things we can't eat. It is up to us to make it easy for others since they are taking the time and making the effort to accommodate us.
• Bring a Dish - It is always a good idea to bring at least one dish that you know you can eat. No matter how well meaning, mistakes can be made and there is nothing more frustrating than finding yourself hungry with nothing safe to eat. Often the best dish to bring is dessert since that is the course that can be hardest hit by food allergies. One of my client's is allergic to sugar so he brings an avocado chocolate mousse to any and all occasions. That way he doesn't feel left out or deprived when it's time for dessert. Now he has to make extra since so many people have become fans.
So go ahead, say yes to the gluten-free pies, the lactose-free eggnog and the sugar-free avocado mousse! Certainly the Holiday fare will be a little different than years past but with some preparation, creativity and an adventurous spirit there is no reason you can't create some new allergy free Holiday favorites.Also published in HuffPost Blog: