Having been a counseling therapist for over 20 years, it is fair to say that my work with clients always involves people wanting a change of feelings for whatever reason. It is not the presenting problematic situation nor past experiences themselves that are the problem, but how we perceive them and how we feel about them that causes the difficulties.
The Purpose of Feelings
Feelings are there as our natural instinct in their most basic form for the purpose of survival: to motivate us to move away from uncomfortable feelings and dangerous situations. If we go very close to a fire, we feel too hot and move away. If we jump in to the sea and it is too cold, we get out. Feelings help to protect us.
However, problems often arise when we allow ourselves to be driven or led by feelings, even though this may not be in our best interest or good for our own health and wellbeing. Examples of this are addictions such as gambling. People who gamble usually say they do it for one of two reasons; because it is a form of escape from life situations and their own thoughts, or they do it for the excitement, the thrill, the feeling of being so alive in the moment. Sometimes people do it for both of these reasons and more. In other words, it is not the gambling itself that they become addicted to, but the way it makes them feel at that time, in that moment.
Of course, when those moments have passed, the feelings can instantly change - except now there are usually additional feelings added including guilt, fear, shame etc. In other words, the repeated cycle of addiction continues until the person is ready and really wants to make changes.
Relationships & Change
This change comes about by acknowledging what our needs are. There is nothing wrong with enjoying the feeling of excitement, but it is about finding healthy strategies to meet our needs and becoming aware or mindful of the choices and consequences of our actions.
Of course, not all feelings are uncomfortable, a lot of them we seek and yearn for such as love, happiness and contentment because these feelings make us feel ‘good’ in so many ways. When entering new relationships, we are attracted and drawn to people who we ‘feel’ good around; their company evokes what we experience as positive feelings e.g. relaxed, sexually aroused, excited, happy, good about ourselves, etc.
So of course, we want to continue to get our fix of these positive feelings by continuing to be in the company of these people. Whether these relationships continue long term largely depends on whether we continue to have positive feelings in their company or whether the rose-tinted glasses have come off, reality has kicked in or the other person was just putting on a show to draw us in.
We Have a Choice
We can soon recognize that our feelings have now changed and then we can make a choice to stay in their company or leave, the choice is ours. It is not only the company of other people that can influence our feelings. There are so many other different triggers, positive and negative. We can listen to a piece of music which can instantly change our mood, we can visit certain places where we always seem to ‘feel’ better. We can play a Sport, be outdoors, enjoy baking, painting, yoga etc.
Why we feel as we do in relation to many different things is a whole different deeply complex other subject and we can look for the ‘whys' and the ‘explanations’ but ultimately, it is the ‘whats and hows’ that will bring about change. So for a change of uncomfortable feelings, it's about ‘what’ can you do to change how you feel and ‘how’ you might try doing this to make that change happen.
It is all about self awareness and our continued journey of further development. For this to grow and advance, we need to learn to tune in to ourselves, listen to our mind, body and spirit.
What is it telling you?
What does it need?
How are you feeling?
Be aware that you make choices every day that have a direct influence on how you feel. You can choose to help yourself to have positive feelings or you can choose to do things which cause uncomfortable feelings. It really is up to you, and once you recognize this, you are free to consciously make those choices and no longer be a victim of the unconscious influence. Choose freedom.
Book Recommendation: In My Heart: A Book of Feelings (Growing Heart)
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This is a guest post by Debbie Hull. You can email her at email@example.com
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