another thing about feelings

Lots of questions about feeling feelings and What They Mean.

They don’t mean anything. And if your mind tries to tell you a story about what they mean and what you should do about it, listen quietly, nod, and then think about your breath instead.

I don’t mean feelings don’t MATTER, just that they don’t have MEANING. They’re important, absolutely. But they don’t have language, they don’t communicate with you through words and probably not even through images, they have no purpose beyond the biological motivational system that’s activated to give rise to whatever the feeling is.

Feelings originate in a WAYWAYWAY pre-verbal part of your brain. If you have words that seem to rise up with your feelings, those were laid on overtop of the feelings post-hoc. That’s your human brain trying to make up a story to explain why you feel things, but why you feel things may or may not have anything to do with that story. Your language processors are primarily selecting information from a processing level similar to itself – way up there in the cortex. Your explicit memories, your language-related memories, your current environment; but your feelings came from your lizard brain and your mammal brain. Your feelings aren’t very familiar with language and explicit memories.

Don’t believe the story your language tells you about your feelings. It *might* be right, but it could just as easily (MORE easily) be a convenient fiction.

Instead, feel free to notice the flow of language, feel free to recognize the story your mind wants to tell you about your feelings, but pay most of your attention to the ACTUAL FEELINGS. Like, How You Feel, how your body feels, how your muscles and your stomach feel, how your heart is pumping and how air is moving in and out of you (or not).

Words are cages for feelings. When you get real about your feelings, when you just let them be feelings without trying to civilize them with language, you give them space, you give them permission, which will reduce their innate reactivity to cages.

Understanding why you feel might help some – it probably will feel nice – but what actually HEALS you is the process of allowing your feelings to move through the cycle.