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Get In Touch with Feelings

Chapter 4 Getting in Touch With Feelings Growing Down - Tools for

Healing the Inner Child

By: James J. Messina, Ph.D. &

Constance M. Messina, Ph.D.

Why is it so important to be in touch with your personal feelings?

When you are in touch with your own feelings you:

  • Become a more real and authentic person.
  • Become more honest with yourself about who you are, where you have come from, and where you are going.
  • Begin to be more willing to take risks and become more vulnerable and intimate in interpersonal relationships.
  • Cease being in denial about what is really happening in your life.
  • No longer pull in and hide so that you become invisible to yourself and others.
  • Take the risk of no longer disassociating or becoming numb when things are going on in your life which are negative or overwhelming.
  • Make yourself stay conscious to the reality of your life so that you are able to recall or remember it in the future rather than to have no memory of it.
  • Push yourself to have a broadened or enriched emotional vocabulary to describe the experiences of your life.
  • Cease viewing life from a black or white perspective and become more willing to take the gray into account.
  • Open yourself up to grieve the losses in your life so that you no longer use denial, repression, suppression, or delusion to describe your life the way you wanted it to be but rather describe your life the way it really was.
  • Allow yourself to become a congruent healthy human being who uses rational, reality-based thinking to assist your feelings to become rational and reality-based so that the actions and behaviors which follow are also rational and reality-based.
  • Are open to the spirit of your inner child in your soul who allows you to enjoy your life to the fullest without the constraints or restrictions of how you should think, feel or act.
  • Live life moment to moment, day to day, and become reasonably happy realizing that feelings are a natural, human process.
  • Begin to accept that feeling all feelings is OK and that there is no right or wrong feeling.
  • Become open to experience the full continuum of emotions from the most painfully negative to the most exhilaratingly positive.
  • Grow in the ability to listen, understand, and be empathetic to others' verbal and nonverbal expressions of feelings and emotions.
What causes you to be out of touch with your feelings?
There are three major reasons why you may currently be out of touch with your own feelings. They are:

 

1. Non-feeling personality pattern

This behavioral pattern is described in Laying the Foundation, Chapter 11. This pattern is also known as Alexathemia, the absence of feeling, emotionally laden vocabulary, and experience.


 2. Pulling-in personality pattern
This behavioral pattern is described in Laying the Foundation, Chapter 5. This is a withdrawal pattern in which you resort to a low profile or invisibility to hold in emotions in order to avoid being dragged into the conflicts and troubles going on around you in life.

 

3. Disassociation

This is a survival pattern of becoming numb or disconnected from the emotions that accompany an event which is unpleasant, threatening, abusive, violent, uncomfortable, or challenging to you. This pattern enables you to terminate an association with the event so as to survive the event and get on with your life.

What new, rational self-scripts will you need in order to be more in touch with your feelings?

The following are positive, rational, reality-based affirmations you may want to use in mirror work and journal writing in order to facilitate your ability to identify and express your feelings:

  • It is healthy to feel your feelings.
  • There is no such thing as a right or wrong feeling.
  • All feelings are OK.
  • It is OK to feel what I am feeling now.
  • No one can take what I am currently feeling away from me.
  • I have a right to feel my feelings.
  • No one can judge me wrong for feeling the feelings I experience in my life.
  • It is OK to have negative feelings and to identify and express them freely.
  • I am feeling feelings every second of my waking hours.
  • Identifying and expressing my feelings makes me a real and authentic human being.
  • No one can deny me my feelings.
  • No one can tell me how I should be feeling.
  • No one has the right to make me feel bad or guilty for the feelings I am feeling.
  • I am more alive and vigorous when I am in touch with my feelings.
  • I have a right to have my feelings be visible, seen and heard by others.
  • I will no longer hide my feelings and emotions from myself and the others in my life.
  • I deserve to give and receive honest feedback about my feelings toward persons, places, things, and events in my life.
  • I deserve to have my feelings listened to by others.
  • I choose to feel my feelings be they positive or negative so that I cease being numb to my life.
  • I have the right to experience the grief and mourning emotions which I will feel as I face the losses in my life.
  • I will heal and grow as I become more in touch with my feelings.
  • I will grow down more as I open myself up to get in touch with my feelings.

What can you do to improve the identification and experience of your feelings?

To help you get in touch with your feelings you can do one or more of the following:

  • Keep a daily feelings log.
  • Keep a daily journal identifying what happened to you in the day and how it made you feel.
  • Work on identifying the losses you experienced in your life and grieve the loss of them by using the strategies for handling losses in Tools for Handling Loss.
  • Do anger workouts on an as-needed basis and do the anger work strategies as identified in Tools for Anger Workout.
  • Use effective listening and responding techniques in your communications with others so that you are able to express your feelings, listen to and understand the feelings of others, and respond to them to reflect this understanding. This work is more fully explained in Tools for Communications.
  • Read books about others whose life histories are similar to yours and see how they express their feelings about their life experiences. Use these others' words as role models for your own emotional expression.
  • Attend a weekly Self-esteem Seekers Anonymous (SEA's) group to experience the active identification of feelings in the giving and receiving of support. Use Self-esteem Seekers Anonymous The SEA's Manual to help you and others to conduct a SEA's program.
What are the steps you can immediately take to help you get in touch with your feelings?
 
Step 1: In your journal identify what obstacle(s) currently keeps you out of touch with your feelings.
  • Non-feeling personality style
  • Pulling-in personality style
  • Disassociation
Once you decide the obstacle(s), then describe specific events from your past where you used this style(s) of behavior and how it helped you survive those events. Then, looking at your current life, describe for yourself how these survival techniques are no longer productive for you.

 

Step 2: Once you have identified the obstacle(s) to being in touch with your feelings, then identify in your journal what messages you have given yourself in the past to keep you from identifying, experiencing or expressing your feelings.

 

Step 3: After you have identified the negative messages you have given yourself to keep you out of touch with your feelings, then in your journal identify healthy self-affirmations which will encourage you to identify, experience, and express your feelings on a daily basis.

 

Step 4: Use your affirmations for getting in touch with your feelings on a daily basis and then in your journal for the next thirty days keep a Feelings Log. Use the following directions to do the Feelings Log.

Feelings Log Directions

In your journal on a daily basis for the next thirty days, record feelings you are experiencing. For each day record distinct parts of the day for which you are identifying feelings, for example:

  • Morning - rising and breakfast.
  • Morning - at work (school, home).
  • Afternoon - lunch time.
  • Afternoon - back at job (school, home).
  • Early evening - on way home.
  • Evening dinner.
  • Later evening.
  • Pre-retiring to bed.
For each part of the day identify the following:
  • What I was feeling.
  • The stimulus for the feeling.
  • What, if anything, I did as a result of this feeling.
  • How others reacted to what I did.

To help you identify the feelings experienced, use the Feeling Words Inventory which you can down load from this chapter site.

Step 5: If after thirty days of keeping a Feelings Log you are still not better able to get in touch with your feelings, return to Step 1 and begin again.