Feelings are Not facts, but feel like they are
Are you someone that has a lot of strong feelings? Do feel intense shame, embarrassment, rejection or hurt regularly? Do these intense feelings of sadness or shame or embarrassment make it hard to look objectively at a situation? Do you find that even people you trust and are really close to you often hurt you? Are you confused by this? Do you find that you make emotional decisions that may cause you to say hurtful things to people you care about and later you regret what you have said?
Are your feelings so strong that you treat them as though they are true, and people are continuing are not agreeing with your feelings towards a situation? Do you often make decision based on your feelings and then this can create relationship problems for you? Do you often communicate how someone is making you feel and then you get responses from them that don’t seem to match your understanding of the situation or relationship?
Are people often telling you that you are too emotional? Do you get accused of overreacting? Are you often hurt by people? Do you often feel let down or disappointed by people? Do you wish you were better understood?
As human beings we are both logical as well as emotional beings. To be effective in managing relationships at work, home and in life we need to be able to integrate what our feelings are telling us with logic and facts. For many people this is something that needs to be developed. Therapy is a place where people learn how to effectively process their feelings and integrate them with objective facts and logic.
Many people have not learned how to work with and process their feelings. Feelings are powerful because they often come with strong body sensations. If we have a feeling such as fear, shame, hurt or embarrassment, these feelings can be so strong, that for some people, it feels like a fact. When a feeling is so strong and a person can’t double check it with supporting facts, it impairs their ability to make good decision on what do to do or act.
What might this look like:
Sally is a person that has very low self-esteem. She is very sensitive to rejection, more than an average person. In many situations Sally, even with long-term trusted friends, can have her feelings hurt. Friends like her but often they feel they are walking on eggshells around her because they know she is so sensitive. An interaction with Sally might go like this.
Sally, on Monday, WhatsApp a friend at 11am to meet for lunch at 1pm. Sally, after waiting 5 minutes is starting to feel very anxious, her friend hasn’t checked the message. Sally starts to wonder if her friend is ignoring her or avoiding her message.
10 minutes later Sally sees that her friend has read the message but hasn’t yet replied. Sally is really confused by this. Sally starts to go through her memory to see if she did anything that have offended her friend.
She is getting more anxious and concerned that it is now 15 minutes and her friend hasn’t yet replied after reading the message. Sally is now starting to feel sad; she can’t remember anything did that was obviously offensive to her friend. She can’t recall any misunderstandings and cannot figure out why the friend isn’t replying. Sally now starts to rationalize that maybe this friend doesn’t want to go to lunch with her and that’s why she’s not replying. Sally is feeling this is a fact without really being aware that there could be alternative explanations. She has let her feel determine it and decides her feeling is a fact, her friend is mad at her and is avoiding her and therefore now Sally is hurt. Sally feels really hurt and rejected.
Finally, 35 minutes after reading the message, the friend replies that she was caught up in the meeting saw her message but couldn’t reply. She’d love to meet for lunch at a slightly later time than what Sally suggested, would that work.
Sally gets the message, and feels a bit of relief, if not a bit skeptical. Okay, good her friend wasn’t mad at her and had a legitimate reason for replying later. Sally, doesn’t have any insight or awareness that her feeling wasn’t a fact. Sally is just exhausted from the whole thing and may be more distant when she sees the friend. She may spend time at the lunch checking to make sure everything is okay with her friend, which in turn will confuse the friend. This type of situation will be repeated over and over again for Sally without her becoming aware that people can have alternative reasons for delaying their replies. This will happen in many different situation for Sally.
In a different scenario, Sally may have started messaging more, chasing the friend. She may have even started a fight, because she would have felt that her friend was rejecting or being mad at her. She might have sent a message something like “Is everything okay with you? “Or she might have said “hey what’s wrong?” or “Did I do something wrong? How come you aren’t replying?”
This is just a small snippet of how strong feels can override and distort reality. A person like Sally, who is so sensitive to rejection, is often overwhelmed with feelings of rejection that are so strong, it colors how they interpret a situation. Feeling driven people tend to read a neutral situation negatively, through their negative feeling. The negative feelings informs their decision and of course, the following actions from this feeling decision will often hurt or push people away. The feeling person is often confused by this reaction of people.
In this example, it is about the feelings of rejection. Other people may struggle with strong feelings of fear, or lack of trust or abandonment. The effect is the same, the person treats their feelings as a fact and s/he are not able to see the situation for what it is by incorporating other neutral information in to balance out their feelings.
If you are struggling with strong feelings that are interfering with your ability to form or maintain healthy relationships, therapy can help you. If you are tired of strong feelings making it hard for you to focus or stay in the present, therapy can help you.
Therapy provides a structured, safe and healthy relationship to help a person be able to recognize and process their feelings to make informed and healthy decisions and behaviors. If you want your life and relationships to better, don’t wait. Help is there for you.
If you would like to learn more, contact All in the Family Counselling Centre Pte Ltd. to arrange for an initial consultation. Preferred communication is via WhatsApp at +6590307239 or email at tammy @ allinthefamilycounselling DOT COM
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