What Are Feelings and Why Do They Matter?

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The term “feelings” can refer to physical or emotional experiences. The sensation of pain, warmth, or cold describes physical phenomena. Sensations like comfort, fear, and happiness describe what we experience. 

Understanding feelings is an essential part of human experience. Why? Because feelings impact how we perceive our entire existence. Our feelings help us identify what is going on inside. They are the body’s way of communicating how we’re experiencing the world. 

What Are Feelings?

Feelings allow us to experience an endless array of emotions. They are what gives us the ability to experience the joys and sorrows that life and all its ups and downs brings to us. They also help us to develop and navigate our way through relationships, make important life choices and identify our responses to events. 

Why Feelings Can Cause Trouble

Many of us have been taught from childhood to ignore and suppress our naturally occurring emotions. Oftentimes, we have been taught that the feelings we experience are bad or make us bad. Consequently, we learn to ignore them and even deny they exist. However, what we feel can be powerful, more powerful than most of us realize. One way or another, our feelings will fight to be expressed. They usually win. They get expressed. Sometimes their expression is healthy and sometimes their expression unhealthy, even damaging. 

Consequences of suppressed and denied feelings:

  • Anxiousness, agitation and sadness
  • Problems with anger, aggression and explosive behaviors
  • Experiencing phobias and unexplained fears
  • Struggles with eating disorders, and addiction
  • Difficulty experiencing healthy relationships
  • Poor communication and passive aggression
  • Developing a long-standing pessimistic perspective on life 
  • Feelings of low self-esteem, shame, guilt, and low self-worth

To experience emotional and psychological well-being, it is crucial to learn to recognize and embrace your emotions. The next step is to learn how to verbalize effectively in order to avoid the consequences of suppressed and denied feelings. 

Remember, we are not our feelings. We do not have to act upon or become what we feel. In other words, just because I might feel angry does not mean I have to act angry. I can learn to safely communicate how I feel without literally becoming my emotions. 

Learning to Understand Your Feelings

Our cognitions influence how we feel. This means that the way we see and perceive everyone and everything around us, impacts how we feel. We tend to follow a very simple formula in the precise order of:

  1. Thinking (our thinking influences how we feel)
  2. Feeling (what and how we feel impacts our behaviors)
  3. Behaving (we behave as a result of what we think and feel)

Be sure to pay close attention to how you interpret the events and other people around you. Sometimes a simple adjustment in how someone or something is perceived can set off a whole new chain of responses. 

Emotions are not good or bad. 

Feelings are not right or wrong. They just are. Also, feelings need validation. This means they must be acknowledged as real. 

Accept and Embrace Your Feelings

Sometimes you will understand their origin and sometimes you will have no clue as to where they came from. It doesn’t matter. Validate all of them. Acknowledge them as yours and allow them to surface in an acceptable way. 

Feeling are Physical

You have heard of “butterflies in the stomach”? Our bodies react to how we feel. These manifestations are different for everyone. For example, in times of stress, common reactions include headache, body ache, gastrointestinal issues, and trembling.

It is important to learn to understand your feelings. Doing so is the first step in learning to embrace and accept them as part of who you are. Remember, it’s never helpful to label your feelings as “good” or “bad.” Accept them as part of your experience. Then you can begin to share how you feel. This creates more positive outcomes in your life. 

Sharing Feelings

  • Put your feelings into wordsTalking to a trusted friend, family member or mental health professional allows you to share everything you are carrying inside. Talking to the right person can make you feel less alone. Having a healthy and safe outlet can reduce the power of uncomfortable feelings. 
  • Learn how to acknowledge and manage anger. Anger is often referred to as a secondary emotion. This means it follows feelings of fear, hurt, or disappointment. Identify and talk about what scares, hurts, or disappoints you. Recognize your body’s signals responding to anger. Then, talk about your feelings before they can turn into action. There are many anger management classes that can teach you how to talk through your anger. In other words, manage your anger before it manages you.
  • Express yourself. Journaling and artwork can be effective ways of processing what’s going on inside. Writing down or drawing your what you feel brings them out. Storytelling, art, and writing is a healthy outlet that helps process what might be festering inside of us. 

Learning to understand and share allows you to acknowledge and accept your innermost experiences. Also, when you share your feelings, you build longer-lasting healthy relationships. In addition, you improve communication and experience greater well-being. 

Keeping your emotions bottled up inside can create lots of negative outcomes. Let yourself feel and share your feelings. You will feel lighter, more authentic, and more connected to others.

Find Help for Managing Your Feelings

If left unchecked, feelings can grow from uncomfortable to unmanageable to downright dangerous. With enough time, anger or grief can become a mental health disorder like depression or anxiety. Uncomfortable feelings can also lead to alcoholism or drug addiction. In such cases, professional help is needed.

Launch Centers knows that mental health treatment should serve the individual. We work with each of our clients, attending to their personal needs. We can treat the symptoms of you or your loved one’s mental health disorder.

Los Angeles Treatment Center

Our program at Launch Centers is designed to help you make sense of your emotional world, and process thought patterns and how it relates to your substance abuse.  We want to work with you to develop the skills needed to feel in control of your emotions. Contact us to learn more about our mental health treatment programs for young adults.

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    Launch provided care on multiple levels. The highly skilled therapist coupled with the focus on purpose and long-term goals refocused my recovery from what previous treatment centers pushed onto me. I went from believing that I needed years of treatment to believing I needed years happiness and success. I began to focus on what I wanted to accomplish with my life. I came to realize all the things my addiction and mental illness had taken from me, and I used my future goals as a reason to never pick up again. Due to the passion that Launch instilled in me, I have pursued my future with excitement and dedication.

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