Maybe too much?
A while back (please read Part 1 here), I wrote about the importance of becoming fully aware and accepting of all our feelings, the fun ones as well as the less pleasant ones.
Feelings are important information that must be felt, understood, accepted and processed. Not integrating our feelings into our global experience of a situation jeopardizes our well-being and relationships, whereas reclaiming them as valid and useful information leads to better health in self and in relationships.
There is such a thing as over-using our feelings!
Some of us (I’m one of those) have an over-active emotional center (other personality types have either an over-active mental center or an over-active instinctual center).
If having an over-active emotional center can facilitate a desire - or at least a willingness - to explore the emotional world, it unfortunately does not mean being naturally more aware of our feelings. However it does mean way too much acting and speaking in reaction to feelings, at least early on in the adult developmental journey.
It also means that on our journey to self-awareness, acceptance and validation, we might start to believe in our feelings too much.
What happens when we do too much with our feelings?
1. We believe that any feeling arising in reaction to an event, thing or person means something true about that event, thing or person.
Any feeling we feel arising is indeed important, true and valid. It deserves our full awareness, acceptance and inquiry because it’s indeed saying something very true about our present experience.
But this truth is partial and personal, not complete and universal.
If we unconsciously believe that positive feeling = positive event, thing or person and negative feeling = negative event, thing or person, we are misusing our emotional center and missing out on a lot of possibilities.
Most feelings say everything about ourselves and little to nothing about the event, thing or person involved in the activation of the feeling (with the exception of situations where someone intentionally speaks or acts with cruelty). Most emotional experiences in the present are old echoes from the past. They say more about our past experiences than about our current ones.
Therefore we want to extract the truth about our present experience but not equate its truth to the facts of the current situation we are just reacting to.
2. We make our decisions based on our emotional center’s experience alone, instead of integrating them with our mental and instinctual intelligence centers.
When we over-use our emotional center, we unconsciously over-rely on our feelings to make decisions.
Integrating our feelings mean allowing the blending of the information they bring up with the rest of the information gleaned from our mental and instinctual centers.
Making important decisions based on “feeling good” or “not feeling good” may mean to miss out on fantastic learning and collaborative opportunities.
Situations and people who act as activators of strong feelings (especially negative ones) are in reality our best teachers. Thanks to them, we can learn more about ourselves and we can be inspired to live our life more holistically.
Only doing what “feels good” or being around others with whom "we feel good" sure feels pleasant and easy, but it might lead to being surrounded by people who validate and enable us but who don’t challenge or inspire us, and therefore staying stuck in old patterns and missing out on learning new skills, ways of being and ways of being different together.
Not feeling good does not necessarily mean not good. Feeling good does not necessarily mean good.
3. We artificially amplify our feelings to feel “more alive”, or we hold on onto our feelings to maintain a specific mood, positive or negative.
People who are over-active in their emotional center unconsciously and unwillingly tend to amplify and/or hold on onto their feelings because it’s what they feel more strongly and what makes them feel more alive.
As much as it’s important to feel, accept, and inquire about our feelings, we also need to be able to process and then let go of each feeling experience after it has passed. A feeling is supposed to be a short experience. Its truth exists only in the present moment.
If we unconsciously amplify the feeling by replaying events in our minds, by using music or other forms of stimulation to hold on to the feeling for an extended period of time, we literally misuse our emotional center and this can jeopardize our well-being and relationships because feelings that stay in the body too long harm us and are more likely to negatively affect those around us.
So what’s the ideal way to experience our feelings?
The wisest way to experience our feelings is to develop such beautiful presence and calm awareness that we can feel our feelings arising in the moment, fully validate and accept them as pieces of truth about ourselves in response to a specific situation, then explore what is happening and what the feeling actually, truly refers to, integrate this deep exploration with our intellectual and somatic experiences, make a decision on how to speak/act, and finally let go of the emotional charge through release of the though pattern, breath work, physical movement, etc.
We ought to delve deep into our emotional center… and then come back up promptly to be present for the next experience of life. We don’t repress our feelings, and we also don’t get attached to them.
Feeling. Awareness. Acceptance. Inquiry. Choice. Processing. Letting Go.