Emotions as InformationBy Dr. Margaret Paul
December 31, 2006
Your emotions are an instant information system, always letting you know when you are telling yourself lies and when you are in truth.
When you were a small child, your painful emotions may have felt too overwhelming to feel. If you experienced physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse, your little body was not big enough to manage the painful feelings. If you were neglected, unseen, misunderstood, invaded, smothered, shamed or ridiculed, it may have felt too painful to manage. If you were a highly sensitive child with parents who did not understand high sensitivity, you may have felt too much emotion to handle. You might have had to learn ways of not feeling so much emotion.
What did you learn to do as a child and adolescent to manage your feelings?
- Did you learn to numb out, taking your focus out of your body and into your head, thinking rather than feeling?
- Did you learn to use food, alcohol or drugs to numb out?
- Did you learn to numb out in front of the TV or computer?
- Did you learn to leave your body or to dissociate in other ways?
- Did you learn to live in fantasy or daydreams to not be present in your body?
- Did you learn to be a perfectionist, an overachiever, always being busy - doing rather than feeling?
- Did you learn to get angry rather than feel the pain of the loneliness, heartache and helplessness?
- Did you learn to focus on what was going on with others rather than on your own feelings? Did you learn to absorb others' feelings and be there to help them as a way to avoid your own pain?
- Did you learn positive addictions, such as reading or sports, to avoid your feelings?
Those of us who did not receive the love we needed had to find various ways of managing the pain. This was a necessary part of our survival.
As adults, avoiding feelings has many negative consequences.
Your feelings are your inner guidance system. Your feelings instantly give you much vital information.
Your wounded painful feelings, such as fear, anxiety, emptiness, aloneness, depression, hurt, anger, jealousy, guilt and shame, are letting you know that you are thinking thoughts that are not true - that are out of alignment with what is in your highest good, or that you are behaving in ways that are harmful to you. Your core painful feelings are giving you information about what is happening externally:
- Your loneliness around another person may be letting you know that the person's heart is closed.
- Your heartache and heartbreak are letting you know that another is being unloving to you or to themselves.
- Your confusion around what another person is saying or doing may be letting you know that the person is lying.
- Your discomfort around another person may be letting you know that the other person is not safe to be around.
- Your inner peace, joy and fulfillment are letting you know that your thoughts and behavior are supporting your highest good.
As adults, many of our emotions come from our thoughts.
If you think a thought such as "I am not good enough, " you will feel anxious or depressed. These painful feelings are your inner guidance system telling you that the thought is a lie. If you then do something to avoid feeling the anxiety or depression, you are not getting the very important information that your feelings are giving you, and you are abandoning yourself. This self- abandonment - avoiding your feelings and the information that your painful feelings are giving you - leads to addictive behavior.
As a child, others may have been causing many of your painful feelings, and as an adult, others still cause them with their unkind behavior. However, now as an adult, you are generally the cause of much your pain - by judging yourself, neglecting your feelings and numbing them with various addictions, and making others responsible for your feelings of self-worth and safety. As an adult, it is your own self-abandonment that is often the cause of your pain.
The information your emotions are always giving you is vital for your health and wellbeing.
As an adult, you CAN learn to learn from and lovingly manage your painful feelings by practicing Inner Bonding - tuning into your feelings, opening to learning about the information that your feelings are giving you, and by learning to access your inner higher wisdom to bring in the truth and love to yourself. You will know that you are thinking and behaving in ways that support your highest good when you feel inner peace and joy.
Why not start today to practice Inner Bonding and attend to your emotions rather than avoid them?
Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Course: "Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships."
Join IBVillage to connect with others and receive compassionate help and support for learning to love yourself.
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By Dr. Margaret Paul