Feelings are emotional states or reactions. They are an awareness or impression. A sensitivity, sensibility or sentiment to something. They are often emotion driven rather than reason driven.
We all have them
On a daily basis, I feel mostly joy. I am not sure if this is a feeling or an attitude based on how I perceive life. You and I could have the exact same circumstances and experiences but our reactions and feelings may be completely different.
I have been thinking a lot about feelings and what the rules are pertaining to them. Can we express them freely? Can they be hurtful to others? Are we allowed to have them? Are some feelings wrong?
This past year as many of you know, I took a loved one out of a very dire situation and opened up our home to her. I put myself at the very bottom of the pile and gave her my all. I gave everything I had to give at the expense of my own family and my health.
The result was less than ideal. It was in fact, more tragic. More so because for the first time in her life, she had everything she needed to succeed at her very fingertips – but she rejected it, continued on her downward path and almost took me down with her.
As I have tried to recover from this very traumatic experience, I have been struggling with my feelings. Specifically, the new ones that have taken over my existence.
On the front burner are feelings of anger, resentment and darkness. I still feel damaged, burned and broken by this experience.
I am a more cynical person who has lost faith and who cannot trust, with full confidence. I have hardened and I don’t like it.
This new me is not reacting the compassionate and loving way she always did. Compassion always trumped all other feelings, particularly when it came to others. No matter what the background or reasoning behind a person’s actions, the old me found forgiveness. She found compassion.
It is something others have admired in me for years. “She is so amazing. She is so strong. She is so nice. She is so kind.”
Well, this person is now lost. The darkness is etched in ink, on her spirit. Like leeches sucking the life out of her and going nowhere fast.
For the first time in a while, as I looked out into the horizon today, I believe I recognized something familiar, way out in the distance. Something still too far to reach, but something that, dare I say, resembles Hope? I don’t want to get ahead of myself but I am drawn to it and can’t stop watching it move ever so slowly, closer toward me.
You see, feelings, I am learning – have their own existence. They are their own entity and are in full control of themselves. We try, often unsuccessfully, to steer our feelings to fit into a specific “feeling” mold depending on the issue at hand.
If there is a death, for example, we escort the feeling of sadness to the front of the line, cutting in front of our other feelings. We do this because sadness is the feeling that is expected to be highlighted – the one we are supposed to express. And if we don’t…we think there is something wrong with us.
What gets in the way of our feelings? Reason. Reason is often the enemy of feeling. Reason tries to manipulate our thoughts and emotions and tell us how we should feel.
I am an adult. I use reason and logic to understand how life works and how to navigate through the many bumps along the way. I use my education and direction from experts to aid me in using reason. There is a place for reason, but often, the timing is off.
Feelings need to sit. Feelings need to brew. Feelings need to be. Feelings need to be respected. Feelings have a right to exist. They are ours and ours to own.
I am beginning to acknowledge those feelings. To let them exist. To not fight them and not fight myself for having them. They are real. No one can take them away, no one can judge me on them, no one can force me to stop feeling them.
Feelings need time. Feelings need nurturing. Even when they don’t fit the proper mold, they are valid.
I am working on eliminating the “shoulds” in my thinking. Watch me cross off some of these shoulds:
While I am at it, let me eliminate some I must be’s:
The truth is that when it comes to feelings, there is no should or must. There is no right or wrong. What we do with our feelings, we may have control of but what those feelings are, we do not. They just are.
I will sit with my feelings for a while until I am ready to let them go. It will take more time for that Hope to reach me but in the end, it will. And I will be ok.