ON NOTICING DIFFICULT FEELINGS

 

 

Katelyn:  If you are not in the mood to talk, then say so before it gets out of control.  I never thought of just telling someone that I don’t want to talk at that moment.  This semester, I practiced with my close friends. 

 

Just last night I was watching a movie.  My boyfriend called right at the end and I told him I was going to have to call back.  He was like “fine.”  After the movie was over, I explained and it was no problem! 

 

In class we generated a list of feelings that the students would not want to feel.  Some suggested anger, fear, or jealousy.  Others listed “irritation with a friend” because of a desire not to hurt anyone’s feelings.  Katelyn shares her experience with this.  If she had not noticed, not made a request, there could well have been an undertone of tension between them all evening, with neither one understanding why it was there. 

 

The frequent denial of one’s own feelings and needs when they conflict with one’s self-image such as being nice, kind, or strong, is a common dilemma.  It often goes under such phrases as “it is no big deal” or “others have bigger problems.”

 

It was a new concept for some to see that there might be an important message from ourselves to ourselves under any feeling; like the gas gauge on a car—sometimes comforting, sometimes alarming, but generally useful.  A fireman going into a burning building might want to ignore fear for a short time, but if he or she ignored it indefinitely, they could get ulcers or a heart attack.  The fear might be reminding them that the safety of the fire equipment needs to be upgraded.  Or perhaps they have a child and want to take fewer risks so that they live to parent the child.

 

Someone asked, “Isn’t it character-building to do things you fear?”  Several students replied that it was useful to feel the fear, apply reason, and then decide whether to use the fear as a warning and reminder of good sense or to notice the fear, consider the risk involved, and decide to push oneself to do the activity anyway.  TJ offered another perspective on the value of noticing feeling.

 

TJ:  You attract more bees with honey than vinegar.  What I mean by this is that if you walk into a conflict in a bad mood, then the conflict will have a bad tone and be much less likely to be resolved. 

I experienced this first hand the other day when I had car troubles.  I have a really old car that has never been appealing to anyone but myself.  Earlier this month the engine started smoking.  I took it to a station who said they knew exactly what was wrong.  When I came back to pick up my car, I was excited.  I paid them about $500 and was on my way.  A month later the car is still smoking. 

 I went back to the station in a defensive mood and got into a fight with them.  Looking back on the situation, I didn’t even give them a chance to help me.  If I had noticed my frustration and resentment and thought about it and calmed down, maybe they would have fixed my car for free, which is what I wanted. 

 

 

FINDING VALUE UNDER DIFFICULT FEELINGS:  Identify two feelings to work with.  Write the feelings down in the first row.  Fill the columns below each feeling.

I prefer not to feel

 

 

a.

b.

A good time to not

be in touch with this feeling

 

a.

b.

Disadvantage of never noticing this feeling

 

 

 

a.

b.

Potentially useful information

 

 

 

 

a.

b.