Hey positive mom…. How are you feeling?
It’s one of those days in which I’m feeling ALL THE FEELINGS. I know you’ve had that kind of a day.
You feel fear and anxiety, because the future is uncertain and you entertain what might happen.
You feel depressed, hurt, and angry because of something that was done to you in the past that you can’t seem to be able to move on from.
You feel guilt, shame, and regret because of something you did that you feel was a mistake.
You feel so alone, empty, and numb – it’s like you’re already dead, so you might as well die (I’ve told myself this so many times!).
SO. MANY. FEELINGS.
What are feelings?
The dictionary tells us that a feeling is “an emotional state or reaction.” It also defines feeling as “a belief, especially a vague or irrational one.”
What is the difference emotions and feelings?
Emotions are physical, while feelings are mental. Our feelings are subjective, because they are an expression of our emotions.
Our emotions are messengers. Emotions give us vital information about what we are experiencing, as if encouraging us to take a step.
Our feelings are the experience of the emotion. A feeling is what happens because of the story we tell ourselves about the emotion. The feeling is influenced by associations from the past.
Throughout my life, I’ve questioned and judged my feeling and emotions over and over, but these days, I’m choosing to honor them and to tune into the valuable inner guidance they provide.
It’s definitely not as easy as it sounds. Owning your feelings requires SO. MUCH. COURAGE.
Understanding our feelings and emotions is called emotional awareness.
When we are emotionally aware, we choose to listen to what our feelings are trying to tell us, rather than ignoring our feelings, and completely avoiding them.
I ran into a poster online from Wholehearted School Counseling that summed up quite well what our feelings are trying to tell us. It’s called “If feelings could talk.”
If feelings Could Talk
If feelings could talk
Sadness might be telling me I need to cry.
Loneliness might be telling me I need connection.
Shame might be telling me I need self-compassion.
Resentment might be telling me I need to forgive.
Emptiness might be telling me I need to do something creative.
Anger might be telling me I need to check in with my boundaries.
Anxiety might be telling me I need to breathe.
Stress might be telling me I need to take it one step at a time.
Facing our emotions is quite an uncomfortable task. One of my mentors calls this “standing in the fire of your own discomfort.”
Avoiding your feelings can make you sick – in mind, body, and soul. I know because I’ve tried it myself.
Think of feelings that are stuck within you like a festering wound that can get worse if aid is not provided quickly. The sooner we take care of it, the faster it will heal.
Let’s talk about emotions!
Emotions are temporary. Emotions come and go all the time, so even when we feel like nothing’s ever going to change, we can hold on to this truth for hope.
Emotions aren’t good or bad. Emotions are natural. Everyone feels amusement, contempt, contentment, embarrassment, excitement, guilt, pride, relief, satisfaction, shame… and more. It’s what we do when we experience them that can be either negative or positive.
Emotions cause different reactions. We have a choice as to how we react to different emotions. Emotions cause different feelings in different people, so we can become different to change our feelings.
Are all feelings valid?
The meanings we assign to different emotions are very personal and turn into feelings.
The feelings we feel are shaped by our experiences, and in a way, by our own temperament.
Because I have experienced quite a lot of trauma, I’ve had to learn that all feelings are indeed valid, but not all are current.
It’s what we Abuse Recovery Coaches call the “90/10 rule.” It refers to the fact that when we are triggered, about 90% of our reaction comes from a past event, and only about 10% relates to what we are experiencing in the present moment.
When I learned this, it was a huge revelation to me. It helped me understand how PTSD affects me and to make sense of both the internal and external judgments that come with my feelings.
Interestingly enough, our emotional feelings are triggered by both external and internal experiences.
Life events, circumstances, conditions, and situations, whether painful or pleasurable, can trigger responses in us.
The feelings that occur due to loss, trauma, injustice, and challenging life events are called “core painful feelings.”
As moms, we feel sorrow, heartache, or sadness when we see our child suffering.
We feel outrage when our child is treated unfairly. Injustice causes mama bear to come out.
We feel helplessness over events, situations, or other peoples’s choices and behaviors that are out of our control (spoiler alert – we can’t control anyone else!).
We experience heartbreak when those we love act in uncaring ways toward themselves or toward us.
We feel afraid when we fear that our child could be in danger.
We feel loneliness when we want to connect with someone who isn’t available, whether physically or emotionally.
We feel grief because of loss or harm to someone we care about.
Can you relate? I am willing to bet you can. I always say that “pain is the common thread to our humanity.”
Inner Wounded Feelings
Wounded feelings are the painful feelings within us. These are internal feelings that we create by how we treat ourselves and how we talk to ourselves.
- Emptiness …and other emotions like these.
I know these quite intimately… and they lead to a scary, dark, desperate place, where it seems there’s no way out – and yet death seems like a sweet escape.
For so long, I used to wonder why as moms we feel this way when we do all of the things, we take care of people, we are tough cookies in the face of adversity, and even when we mess up, we have the best intentions.
I recently cracked the code.
These internal feelings are caused because we do not practice self-love.
Do you ignore your feelings? Maybe even turn to addictions to avoid, numb, or disguise them?
Do you judge yourself? Call yourself names? Bully yourself?
Do you take on the task of fixing everything and everyone?
Do you constantly blame yourself?
Do you consciously allow others to overstep your boundaries so they don’t reject you?
Do you ignore your needs? Maybe you’ve even convinced yourself you have none, or you decided that you’re a caregiver and your only need is to take care of others.
Do you deny yourself the compassion, grace, and understanding that you freely and lovingly extend to others?
In my journey toward self-love, I am learning that as I stop abandoning, rejecting, and demeaning myself, everything starts falling into place.
My feelings can talk. They often tell me I need a tweak, a shift, or a bit of perspective. And I’m trying to listen.
Primary and Secondary Emotions
I learned about primary and secondary emotions in my college class and I thought it was interesting.
I am grateful that I was able to use these concepts to identify what I was feeling while going to therapy. That was so helpful to me!
And, believe it or not, the best decision I made was to find a bilingual therapist, because I was able to fully express myself in either language, to be able to pinpoint the particular emotion I was feeling in the moment.
Primary emotions include:
Feeling happy/joy, hopeful, grateful, loved, connected, playful, rested, energetic, calm/peaceful, relaxed, serene, or surprised.
Feeling lonely, powerless, helpless or hopeless, stuck, trapped, bored, stressed, tense, shocked, surprised, blah, guilty, regret, torn, torn, sad, grief, loss, distant, disconnected, or overwhelmed.
Fear can take on many forms: scared, rejection, abandonment, unappreciated, unloved, inadequate, worth-less, anxious, ignored, worried, uncertain, confused, discouraged, confused, restless, and tired.
Secondary emotions include:
Feeling shame (embarrassed), jealousy, anger (frustrated, irritated, annoyed, hate, upset, resentful).
We often don’t want to recognize these emotions within ourselves and do The Work – maybe because we want to believe we are better than that.
You are certainly better than that, just not 100% of the time. That’s why it’s important to remember that emotions are temporary.
When we identify these secondary emotions and we validate them within ourselves, we can see that hey are hurtful and harmful, rather than helpful.
This can allow us to move forward, use our tools, and get our needs met in a healthy way, instead of hiding from or attacking others.
The 5 Core Emotions
Did you know there are five core emotions?
If you have experienced trauma, you feel emotions about ten times more intensely than the average person – and are probably judged harshly for it, especially by yourself.
I chuckle thinking about how someone once told me right in the middle of my suffering: “You’re a melodramatic attention whore.”
I thought “How insensitive!“
And yet, in the private chambers of my mind, I’ve called myself worse.
Nowadays, rather than making myself wrong for how I feel, I am finding ways to soothe my inner child and ground myself in the present moment.
That actually works.
Our emotions are physical, so they can often be seen and measured.
- Facial expressions (smile, frown)
- Body language (slouching, pupil dilation)
- Tone of voice (sarcastic, gentle)
- Physiological reactions (heart rate, brain activity)
- Verbal reactions (yelling or screaming)
Since feelings come from emotions, but it’s best to measure them by self-discovery and self-reporting, because they are filtered through the lens of our own personal experiences, beliefs, thoughts, and memories linked to the emotion.
What are your feelings telling you?
I encourage you to seek to decipher what your feelings are telling you. These steps can help:
Tune in to how you are feeling: Take a moment to ask your inner Self what you are feeling. Acknowledge and validate how you really feel.
Identify the source of your feeling: You must meditate and ponder until you really understand why you are feeling this way. You want to go back as far as possible and identify the first time you felt that way and why, and what those feelings might be telling you.
Dare to share: One powerful way to shift is to share what you are feeling and get it out. You can talk it out with a trusted person or simply write in your journal, or maybe do as I do and blog about it. Either way, make sure it’s out of your system, so you can start the healing process.
What are your feelings telling you today? Share what you learned about your feelings and what they tell you in the comments below!
Elayna is a homeschool educator, single mom of 4, founder of the Positive MOM Community, award-winning Storyteller, Story Strategist, and Student of Pain. She’s a bestselling author, internationally acclaimed keynote speaker, and 3x TEDx speaker. To receive a gift from Elayna, click HERE.
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