Your Feelings: Are They Past or Current?By Dr. Margaret Paul
May 31, 2021
Learn to distinguish between past and current feelings and understand the information they are giving you.
In my work with clients, I am often asked this question:
"How do I distinguish between the feelings created by the ways I'm treating myself badly now - causing anxiety, depression, and so on - from the old pain of childhood heartbreak, grief and helplessness caused by my family of origin?"
It's important to remember that there are two kinds of painful feelings: the wounded feelings that we cause and the existential feelings of life – both past and present. We cause the wounded feelings of anxiety, depression, guilt, shame, anger, emptiness, aloneness and so on, by how we treat ourselves. Grief, loneliness, heartbreak and helplessness over others, from the past or present, are very different than the wounded anxiety or depression we are causing in the present.
If you are feeling anxious and fearful and there is nothing actually occurring that warrants these feelings, then you might be causing them. The feelings of anxiety and fear that we create by our own thoughts and actions are quite different from the feeling of fear of real and present danger - which is not a wounded feeling.
It's important for all of us to learn to recognize and distinguish the difference in our body between these two feelings, because the actions we need to take are entirely different.
When you feel an intuitive feeling of fear – a feeling that just comes over you with no thought preceding it – then you need to attend to what is happening in your environment. When anxiety or fear arise from a thought, then you need to do an Inner Bonding process to discover what you are telling yourself or how you are treating yourself. Or, if you feel anxious or fearful with no thought attached, and no actual current threat, then you might be experiencing trauma from the past that is getting triggered. If this is the case, then you might need both Inner Bonding facilitation and trauma therapy.
Sometimes, anxiety and depression have a physical cause. Dehydration and low blood sugar can cause anxiety, because both of them can trigger an adrenaline reaction. An imbalance in the gut can cause toxicity in the brain, which can cause anxiety and depression.
When I work with clients, I generally ask them to focus on what they are feeling right now, in this present moment. We all need to learn to be aware of the information coming somatically from our body through our physical and emotional feelings. If wounded feelings are present, then I guide them through an Inner Bonding process to discover the false beliefs underlying their self-abandoning behavior. This often leads them into the past – into awareness of what happened that created the false belief, and of the role modeling for their self-abandoning behavior. The present illuminates the past.
If, when they tune in, they become aware of the painful feelings of life, then we explore what is happening in their environment – with a person or a situation – that is creating the painful feeling. This can also lead into the past – into embracing the loneliness, heartbreak, grief and helplessness over others from their childhood. Again, the present illuminates the past.
Digging into the past without connecting the past with your current feelings is often a waste of time.
We can intellectually know what happened in the past, but unless we open to the deeper existential painful feelings of what we went through – and couldn't feel then because the feelings were too big – we don't actually heal. This is why it's often much more healing to start with our current feelings – whether wounded or existential – and allow them to take us into the past.
This is what happens when you practice Inner Bonding. You start with your current feelings and then, in Step Three, you might go into the past to explore the origin of your fears and beliefs, connecting your current pain with past pain.
For example, Courtney, one of my clients, often felt a stab of fear in her gut when her husband was upset with her. He was not a violent person so she couldn't understand why she felt scared. When I asked her who her husband reminded her of from the past, she immediately said, "My father. My father was violently abusive. He would beat me with a belt at the slightest provocation. I never knew when it would happen. Oh! Now I see! My husband's energy reminds me of my father's energy, and it triggers my fear!" Now, we were able to do the healing work that was needed, to heal the past and become the current loving adult her inner child needed, in order to feel safe.
The more we heal the past, the more we are able to stay present as a loving adult, and the more inner safety we create.
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."
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By Dr. Margaret Paul