Becoming aware of our feelings and constructively dealing with them is crucial for our personal healing and recovery.
If we grew up in a family that was to some degree dysfunctional the likelihood is that we didn’t get all our healthy needs met. Not getting some of our needs met hurt us and created painful feelings. Since our parents and possibly other members of our family were unable to fully listen to us, support us, nurture and accept us, we often had nobody with whom we could share these painful feelings. We consequently shut these feeling out, away from our awareness (meaning we shut aspects of our True Self out, away from our awareness). Doing this allowed us to survive and function in the world, however, it came at a price. The price is that, as we have continued this behaviour in to adulthood, we have become progressively numb and out of touch with aspects of who we truly are (our True Self).
The aspects of our True Self that we have lost touch with have been unable to grow and evolve. Growing and evolving enables us to feel alive, satisfied and fulfilled. Consequently, because some aspects of our True Self have been unable to grow and evolve, we feel stifled and un-alive; and consequently frustrated, confused, empty, low, depressed, and sometimes distressed.
Our feelings are incredibly precious and important. They enable to understand what we truly need and want and what we don’t need and want. They also enable us to make sense of the world around us and process and assimilate our experiences, so that we can move forward, grow and evolve. Getting in touch with them and talking about them is therefore healthy and an essential part of our recovery. Although getting in touch with them for the first time may feel incredibly painful, and sometimes frightening and overwhelming, soon enough these feelings start to become our friends. They become our friends because we need them to feel whole, real and alive, and to enjoy a healthy relationship with our Self and others.
Our feelings can be both joyful and painful. The spectrum includes: unconditional love, bliss, joy, compassion, empathy, enthusiasm, contentment, fear, hurt, sadness, shame, guilt, anger, confusion, emptiness, numbness.
The way out of a painful feeling is through it. We may have buried many painful feelings and therefore, as part of our recovery, we need to carefully uncover and process them. This process includes sharing our feelings with safe others.
© Amanda Morgan
Amanda Morgan is a counsellor practising in Cambridgeshire, Cambridge and Newmarket (Suffolk). She is passionate about supporting adults and young people (16+) to recover from low mood, anxiety and low self-esteem and enjoys writing about these subject areas.