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Your feelings are information.


Approaching what scares us is difficult, but it is a necessary part of healing and growing. When we ignore what we are feeling, it still tends to come out. I think of a very cool friend of mine, who was the life of every party. He appeared easygoing and hard to upset. He worked as a bouncer and rarely seemed to have any trouble with anyone, even when people could be awful to him. He often drank excessive amounts of alcohol and it wasn't until I got older that I realized he was actually quite sensitive and required alcohol to numb himself in order to be social. He had not been taught nor figured out how to express a wide range of feelings and tried to drink to keep his emotions quiet. But his emotions started to come out in ways that felt unpredictable and out of character to him. He realized he needed some help.


No feelings are bad. How we choose (and have learned) to behave from them can make them seem bad though. Feelings are just information and can be quite helpful when we listen to them. Sometimes, we learn to ignore our feelings in order to keep ourselves safe. For example, if a boy gets punished when he feels hurt and cries, but gets complimented when he is hurt and fights, he will learn to hit and not to cry. (i.e."Feeling hurt and being sad are not acceptable but feeling hurt and getting angry is good.") The boy will learn to try to ignore sadness, but that does not mean it goes away.


Sometimes when people have learned that some emotions are unacceptable, they lose touch with them and are unable to identify them. When these feelings come into their bodies, they just feel overwhelmed, or ashamed. Therapy can be a safe place to explore emotions that we have learned are unacceptable. Learning to feel and listen to those emotions can be empowering and offer insight.






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