We hate to feel, don’t we? There seems to be a generalized belief among the living that to feel any emotion for too long or too intensely means something is wrong with who we are. Why is this?
We believe we have somehow malfunctioned if we cannot keep our emotions in-check, socially acceptable, and controlled. And we believe that we must…and I mean must maintain homeostasis in how we feel. By any chance does this sound like you?
Why do we hate to feel? Why do we fear our emotions?
Here are some thoughts on why we fear to feel:
We Fear we will loose our controlled composure – Any emotions we experience intensely can cause us to feel out of control. It doesn’t mean we are out of control, but this is how we feel. Mentally we want to stop crying or feeling sad, but no matter how hard we will ourselves to stop these unwelcomed emotions they do not go away. They must run their course. And simply put – this feels uncomfortable to us.
We Fear social isolation – “What if I’m too much for my family and friends and they all walk away from me?” It is such a horrible thought to have of oneself as “being too much” for others, isn’t it? This fear alone can grip us so tightly that we choose to stuff down our feelings in an effort to never burden someone again. In all honesty, if someone who claims to love you walks away from your relationship with them because they claim you are too much, then I would question if they truly loved you in the first place.
“What if they think I’m crazy?” – Another aspect to our fear of social isolation is the fear that says something like, “If I let people see my ‘raw’ emotions, or if I am sad too long or cry too much, they are going to think I am crazy.” Basically, we hate to feel because we fear what our feelings say about us to others.
We Fear being consumed – Our fear informs us that if we allow ourselves to feel our feelings, they will consume us. Once consumed, we will no longer be able to function.
Our fears can hold a very powerful role in our lives, but they don’t have to. How can we start to think differently? How can we respond differently to our fears? Next week I will seek to answer these questions. Until then, perhaps just take some time to think about which of the fears listed above ring true in your life. Think about if you are willing to imagine a new way of living. A way of living that doesn’t magically make your fears disappear, but a way of living that isn’t bound by them any longer.
-Lianne Johnson, LPC