The Sound of Some Feelings
lots of us are tongue-tied and don't know what to say or how to explain what we
Disconnection from feelings can happen because we simply don't know any different. If you have felt the same way for many years, it is "normal" to you. It isn't an emotion, it seems to be us. We say things that reflect feelings which are totally unrecognized by our conscious minds.
Without realizing it, we say things that reveal feelings. On one hand we deny, on the other hand, the truth slips out in metaphor or favorite sayings or common phrases. How about, "You make me sick?"
daily words can be a map to this unconscious world of feelings. Our words can
also create a new map, write a new story, that allows us to move into a more
authentic, spontaneous, loving existence.
Our bodies react to our emotions and to the words we use, as well as the words that come back to answer ours. It isn't necessary for us to be conscious of feelings for our nervous systems to launch into out-of-control cycles of tension, anxiety, anger, or depression simply because we have heard or read words!
If we are trying to break out of the downward spiral of tension, contraction, and demoralization from mental and physical pain, it is necessary, however, for us to be aware. We need to wake up and actually listen to ourselves. We need to hear what comes out of our mouths. We need to listen to the conversations in our minds, too.
can learn to use words as a powerful force for personal change. Exercises in
guided imagery, visualization, and neurolingustic programming tap into the
brain's capacity for language and ability to manipulate symbols and other
abstract concepts. Cognitive behavioral therapy is also valuable for making long
Even though meditation seeks to draw us away from our mental word mill by clearing the mind of endless chatter, many forms use a word, or mantra, to focus. The need to clear the mind of words in order to achieve peace illustrates the power of language.
words you use, and the words used by others, form patterns that reveal a great
deal about underlying emotions, expectations, and assumptions. Your language, in
fact, can change your frame of mind or it can reinforce an unhealthy emotional
state. Your language can keep you happy or it can make every moment a misery.
will look at some language and thought habits that may reveal fixed-emotional
states we simply don't or can't recognize in ourselves. Maybe you donít have
clue about how you feel. Try listening to yourself. With compassion, of course.
in mind that most of us have bad days or weeks (not, I hope months, although I
have been there) and say many of these things occasionally.
like anxiety and depression may also have
underlying physical problems associated with them. If you decide that you are
depressed, angry, anxious, alienated, or have some other issues that interfere
with life, please seek appropriate professional assistance.
is a particularly difficult emotional state to handle for many people. Sometimes
you might feel overwhelmed and frightened with normal grief as it wanders in and
out of many of these emotional states. For the most part, it won't be necessary
to look for professional help with grief, but I urge you to get loving support
as you mourn.
Like-Feels Like List
purpose of this list of common kinds of statements is to alert you to emotional
states you are not conscious of, in yourself or others. After all, if you are
not aware, than you are merely a bystander to your own existence.
if you have chronic pain, diabetes or have had a stroke it is likely that the
neurobiology of your condition is playing a role in perpetuating your
depression. Talk to your health care professional!
Depression might sound like:
No one will ever understand how bad I feel.
You havenít been there, you couldnít ever understand.
nothing I can do about how I feel.
I feel much
better when I drink.
no way to make this better.
Nothing feels good any
I am always sick.
I canít give up
I am never hungry.
I am always hungry.
Why try, it never
Why try, nothing ever
Life is mostly crappy.
I canít get out of
I want to sleep all the
I look like a mess most of the time.
It really doesnít
matter how I look.
No matter what I do
Nothing tastes good, so
I just eat whatever.
I feel helpless.
Everything is hopeless.
I overslept again and missed
my doctorís appointment.
I donít want help!
I need something to get
me going all the time.
I donít care.
I am always
Whatís the point?
I never get what I want.
rooted in depression, anxiety reactions, or avoidance of feelings. Social
isolation is actually a powerful predictor of life expectancy. More important
than almost any other factor in recovery from many chronic and acute illnesses
is the richness and complexity of a person's support network. It is pretty
simple - if you have lots of different kinds of people in your life - you will
probably live longer and happier than someone exactly like you who is isolated.
might sound like:
No one understands what I am going through, so I donít have (any) many friends.
My only friends are all fellow survivors (sufferers); they understand.
No one wants to talk about whatís important to me.
I donít know anybody here.
I donít want to go out.
Whatís the point of going out?
I canít trust any one.
I donít need any one else, I am a survivor.
Iíve made it this far by myself.
My bad childhood made me distrustful.
Who would want to spend time with me anyway?
I hurt too much to go out.
Everyone around here is stupid.
I need to be around cultured, intelligent people.
I can only talk with people from my background.
I hate noisy groups.
People are lazy and rude, I am better off by myself.
There are too many children in my neighborhood, so I stay in.
I don't like being outside.
I never know what to say.
I am uncomfortable with small talk.
No one else shares my interests.
familiar landscape for perfectionists, who may not even raise their voices, but
keep themselves (and others) in a constant state of arousal as they seek to make
competitive people (especially poor losers) are often angry.
Frightened people may use anger as a mask. Passive, go-along people may
internalize anger and have high blood pressure and related health problems.
might look like or sound like:
Outbursts over insignificant events.
I hate so-and-so. (This list is longer than "I like.")
I donít like such-and-such. (This usually includes whatever is going on at the time.)
Endlessly finding fault with other people: their lifestyle, actions, clothes, jobs, your very existence.
Endlessly finding fault with your circumstances: your car, your carpet, your spouse, your kids, your job, your past, your present, your future, yourself.
Hey, I have a right to be angry, my life sucks!
Driving too fast lots of the time.
Hitting walls, hitting things, hitting people (not acceptable!)
Swearing and cursing.
I want to die.
I donít want to live.
Losing your temper over every little thing.
Getting headaches and feeling out-of-sorts constantly.
Tense neck, shoulders, muscles all the time.
Carrying on unending conversation about ďbastardsĒ or ďstupid people.Ē
No one knows how do anything right anymore.
I'm always having to do this or that or another inconvenient thing because the world is screwed up.
I was just born unlucky.
is a powerful tool. Sometimes the ability to deny pain is the only way to make
it in the short term, but long term, denial of feelings and emotions will pull
you further and further down. Often, one feeling is substituted for another less
desirable one (from the feeler's point of view).
might sound like:
I feel fine.
Really, I am fine.
I donít feel anything, so I canít be feeling anything bad.
Oh, I'll do it. (This avoids confrontation or unpleasant conversation.)
I am angry all the time, so I canít feel (something worse.)
You canít do anything right. (Said often.)
Itís all over, why dwell on the past?
Hey, nothing much happened to me, so I must be OK.
Other folks have had it much worse, so I shouldn't feel bad.
I donít have any real reason to feel bad, so I must be OK.
I feel guilty; I am worthless. (This avoids even worse feelings.)
Being a work-a-holic; eat-a-holic; drugs-drink-a-holic; hunt-a-holic; bitch-a-holic; sex-a-holic; upset-a-holic.
Obsessing (an endless list: over personal safety or cleanliness or your kidsí safety or bad people or politics or religion.)
I feel this way because I am getting older, fatter, slower, poorer, richer.
I could have, should have; if only I had (reliving events in the past all the time)
I must, should, ought (limiting events in the future)
Itís all my fault. (This avoids even worse feelings!)
May sound like AVOIDANCE OF FEELINGS or DEPRESSION, ISOLATION/ALIENATION, or ANGER/HOSTILITY. It is also possible that you have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and you should seek professional help if most of the following occur in your life with some regularity.
might feel like:
tight and breathless a lot.
nervous about nothing and everything.
strong startle responses.
of and very troubled by people walking too close.
attacks (with all the symptoms, including transient numbness of extremities.)
evasive action frequently, usually without even thinking about it.
conversations with people who might not approve or agree with you.
with your back to wall even when it obviously inappropriate to do so.
about everything, no matter how insignificant.
forever to make even simple decisions.
over possible adverse outcomes to even normal activities.
encounters with people you don't like or understand.
where you go and what you do because you perceive danger (whether or not founded
Designing your life around an approval motif: making decisions and choices based on whether it is "OK" with "them."