Jump to the following topics:
- What are feelings?
- Feeling is a
- Emotions are
not the same as feelings.
are a message from ourselves to ourselves.
help us to live in this world.
are no "negative" feelings.
What are feelings? They are a
means by which our intuition relays information to us regarding inner
and outer circumstances (e.g., a psychological conflict, or a person
or situation). When we are "feeling," we are resonating to one or
more traits of something inside of us or outside of us; this
resonance is like the phenomenon which occurs when our eardrums
vibrate with the sound waves which are striking them. We interpret
this empathic resonance into what we call "feelings," which we
develop further into our responses, likes and dislikes, values, and
guidance. However, when we say that someone "hurt our feelings," it
was not our feelings which were hurt; the feelings merely notified us
of an injury which occurred elsewhere within the psyche.
Feeling is a process. This
process has various stages:
- The empathic resonance. "I feel something about this place."
- Our interpretation of this resonance. "I feel uncomfortable
here." We are experiencing a disharmony, as in a discordant
musical chord. Onto this interpretation -- "I feel uncomfortable
here" -- we might add a further evaluation: "Therefore, I do not
like this place."
- Our sense of the proper course of action based on this
interpretation. We venture that a particular different
circumstance would create a resonance with which we would be
comfortable. "I feel that I should leave, and go home"; in other
words, we would "feel better" at home.
- A re-checking of the empathic resonance. This is a reiteration
of step #1. After we have completed the course of action (i.e., we
are now at home), we examine our feelings again, to take a reading
on our new situation.
- Our interpretation of the new resonance, and our evaluation of
the success of our action. "I feel that I did the right thing."
This is a repeat of step #2; now that we are in the new
circumstance which was recommended by our feelings, our current
feelings indicate a state of harmony with our inner and outer
world. This harmony is interpreted as an experience of comfort,
contentment, happiness, and fulfillment -- and it is further
interpreted as a reward for having obeyed our feelings. The
harmony is not always a state of peace; sometimes our feelings
lead us into a necessary confrontation with a person or situation
but at the center of the hurricane, we have a deep sense that we
are doing the right thing, and that we are in compliance with a
purpose which transcends our conflicts.
not the same as feelings.
- Feelings exist only in the current moment (as responses to
present circumstances). Emotions linger; we require time to gear
down from them, particularly in the emotions' physiological
correlates (e.g., muscle tension, biochemicals such as adrenaline,
and the changes in heartbeat and respiration). The emotions remain
even longer (perhaps for years) if they become associated with
archetypal-field constellations (i.e., "complexes").
- Feelings are subtle and light; we have to "listen" for them.
Emotions are blatant (even disruptive) in our psyche, and they are
even more obvious because of the physiological effects which were
- Feelings do not release energy; they are a simple activity. In
emotions, one of the most pronounced features is the release of
energy which is to be used for "fight or flight" or another
- Feelings are simple resonance; it is only in our
interpretation and judgment of them that we separate them into
"good feelings" or "bad feelings" or another type of feelings. The
basic emotions of fear, anger, and love are distinct in their own
right, each with its characteristic psychological response and
physiological correlates; i.e., the body and mind behave
differently for each one.
- Feelings deal with information; they give it to us. Emotions
deal with action; they prepare us for it. Emotions impel us toward
an activity (e.g., crying or defending ourselves), and they gear
us up for that activity, but (unlike feelings) they don't tell us
what to do; for example, anger fortifies us for self-defense, but
it doesn't tell us how to defend ourselves, whereas our feelings
might tell us, "I feel like resolving this issue" or "I feel that
walking away him is my best course."
are a message from ourselves to ourselves. They tell us whether we
are on track; we feel contentment when we are getting what we need,
and we feel discomfort when our feelings are warning us of an
unfulfillment. Feelings guide us in decision-making and they confirm
the correctness of our choices by the pleasure which we experience.
And when we achieve an overview of our general feeling activity, we
learn who we are as people; to an extent, we define ourselves by
"what we like, and what we like to do" as determined by our feelings.
As Carl Jung said, "Everything that irritates us [or pleases us]
about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves." (My
comment is in brackets.)
help us to live in this world. Like all other inborn parts of our
humanity, feelings are part of a survival mechanism; feelings alert
us to dangers and excesses and deficits. Because survival is
important in more than just the biological realm, our feelings
respond to stimuli on all levels, from food and sex through the
highest planes of art and aesthetics. A psychologically healthy
person responds with feeling to everything which is encountered.
There are no
"negative" feelings. The conflict between feelings and intellect
occurs not only when we deny feelings altogether, but also when we
judge particular feelings to be "bad," e.g., "I should not feel
uncomfortable around her." Feelings are simply our response to
someone or something. If we react "negatively" -- with aversion or
repulsion -- the feelings are not at fault; they are innocently
reporting their perception, and then we have added a further response
of aversion or repulsion or, contrarily, attraction or desire. If we
accept our feelings as valuable input, we attend to each one, and we
don't condemn them and try to squelch them when they tell us that
something is causing discomfort.