This is a controversial post. It’s not an easy subject because FEELINGS have become so integral in the perception of our “happiness” or unhappiness”. But I’m considering that feelings are in actuality much less powerful; that they are light like butterflies. I can blow them away with my breath. My theory is that I may not control that they have landed on me but I might control how long they stay. Feelings are not iron-clad weights that can’t be moved, only indicators of something. Unless I manually pile up the rocks to hold the water, Feelings are not meant to be stagnate but are like ever moving river waters that come to refresh and teach me something as they pass by.
My theory is that the only way to NOT be controlled by feelings is to accept them… but then as quickly as possible, release them. I’ll admit it’s hard. We put more value in the REASON behind how we feel than the feeling itself.
We have good feelings, bad feelings, feelings from circumstances, feelings from interactions with people, feelings from inside of us, feelings from the enemy of our soul, feelings from… The list goes on. We deal with the negative feelings that come from circumstances into daily life with much more grace. Example: The hot water heater dies. Yes, we FEEL frustration. But we tend to “feel” the frustration and move forward to solution-mode rather quickly. We want hot water and we take action to fix it. On the other hand, when a negative feeling comes to “land on us” (disappointment, rejection, sadness) after interaction with someone we love, we don’t “let go” as easily. Why? We’re surprised? We’re jolted out of security? We thought they would never make us feel ____. It’s not that we don’t have the same power, but it is attached to something/someone of value. The weight suddenly appears iron-like. And the justice meter inside of us starts blinking. ‘How dare they make me feel ______. They shouldn’t be able to ruin my day. They shouldn’t be able to steal my joy and confidence and …’ a bit of resentment comes bubbling up…
side note: But are they really the reason behind the feeling? My theory is that negative feelings come mostly from our negative beliefs about ourselves.
…But we hold onto the feeling because we have assigned blame and we value making sure they understand “what they’ve done”. Teaching them a lesson by holding onto the feeling becomes more valuable than our own peace. Yet, ironically, it’s in letting go that we can be balanced again.
I don’t have a particular blanket answer, only a few tips:
1.We must take responsibility. (this is the most difficult). We naturally want to blame. And I’m not advocating becoming an emotional zombie. We must feel to be fully alive. But accepting a feeling and letting it pass through is different than living with a feeling as a fact. Accept that we have control AFTER we feel. And then assess if this is coming from a lie we are believing about ourselves.
2.We must pursue communication. It can be awkward. At the least, in this scenario another person was involved with us having some unwanted feeling. (no judgment because they could be completely oblivious). And if so, if we can deal with it alone, we should. But let’s say it’s something our spouse said that seemed to make us feel negatively, and we know this will root deeply and grow ugly. We owe it to the person who cares about us to discuss it. We don’t want resentment to be a part of our life. And sometimes even in just communicating we can release it. We are talking about dialogue that assumes the best in the other person. Dialogue like “When you said/did _______it brought about feelings of ______, which I am really working hard to blow away. And I thought you’d want to know since I know you don’t desire to be a catalyst for me having to deal with such a negative feeling.” In this example, we are still the manager of our feelings (however they got there). But we are letting the person know we are in a mode of “dealing with it”. And while they cannot undo it, the other person has a chance to support and love. They have a chance to know our vulnerabilities in a deeper way.
I’ve always loved the quote by Eleanor Roosevelt that “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” I still like it. But I think it’s more accurate to say “no one can make you believe you are inferior or keep you feeling inferior without your consent”.
Accepting them as THE CORE of who I am, well this is the problem.
They are just as light as a butterfly and I can blow them away.