What Are You Feeling?

What are feelings? What purpose do they serve?

A while ago I came across this chart which attempts to give the function of feelings. I find it interesting and insightful, a good place to start if you’re experiencing a feeling which is considered negative and would like a more balanced view of it, to know that it also has a positive side to it.

Function of Feelings

The attitude that certain feelings are only bad or negative has always bothered me.

It bothered me as a child because it made life confusing for me. Feelings became a source of endless paradoxes, and those paradoxes became a source of difficult feelings, anxiety, fear, frustration, then sadness, then anger, then guilt. One leading to another with no seeming outlet or solution.

Over and over again my feelings were labelled and boxed by others. Mostly the message which I received was that my feelings were all bad, and the feelings of others were good. Therefore I was not allowed to feel anything as it might bother someone else. However I was required to express certain feelings whether I had them or not because others require an emotional reaction, but it has to be one which is acceptable and expected.

The list of what I was not allowed to feel grew longer with each passing year.

effing censorship

Both of my parents had exaggerated feelings. If they were annoyed, frustrated or angry they expressed it as rage. If they were happy, in love, they expressed it as euphoria, exuberant joy. If they were embarrassed they became aggressive and accusatory. If they were curious it became an inquisition, an interrogation. If they were hurt they expressed it as a dramatic death scene. Disgust required an exorcism. Sadness felt like the end of the world, being sucked into a black hole.

Their feelings were invasive, they needed an audience and audience participation in their drama, but the participation which they demanded had to follow the script of their drama. Their emotional pantomime needed cheers, boos, and gasps. Their confessions expected worship and prostration and a thousand mea culpas.

This was constant, and yet inconsistent. Sometimes their rages needed the witness of the rage to cry, the tears of another acting as an extinguisher of the flames of fury, but at other times tears fueled the rage like accelerant, and what was needed was a vacuum, for the witness to be nothing, say nothing, do nothing, cease to exist but be there. Then again a vacuum could make the rage explode causing a pyroclastic flow to rumble down the sides of the volcano exterminating everything in its path.

And that confusion did not happen only with rages, their joy was just as demanding of a precise and correct controlled reaction. Joy could very quickly turn into rage if it was not treated appropriately and recognised as being fabulous.

Emotionby Aeoll

Emotion by Aeoll

 

I did not have much time for my own feelings as a child when my parents were around. I did have quite a lot of time on my own, but I did not spend that time exploring my feelings, I used it to relax. The peace was my refuge, the calm port in a stormy world. I enjoyed the release from feeling, from not having to feel anything for anyone else.

As I grew older and began to interact with my peers, with people outside of my social circle of origin, the issue of feelings became even more complex.

By then I had sorted out a coping mechanism of being so detached from my feelings that I did not think about them. Of course I felt them, knew they were there, was aware of them and their status, but they were like breathing. They came and went, inhaling, exhaling, moving through my body, in and out. They flowed. No feeling was final. I expressed them too as part of me, as I breathed.

rilke1

It only was a problem when someone would ask me what I was feeling. That meant actually thinking about feeling, rather than just being aware of it. And not just thinking about it but articulating it, putting what was wordless into words, and then explaining it. Other people seem to need explanations, especially if your answer does not satisfy their question. It was odd, but they thought I was odd because they seemed so concerned about every fluctuation of feeling, as though it was a matter of national importance, life or death.

I remember becoming self-conscious about my feelings when I was around others…

Vague sense of uneaseHoxton Street Monster Supplies

 

…so much so that I began to suspect that I was cold. I even asked a friend if he thought I was cold. He was the sort of person who told you bluntly what he thought and that is why I asked him. So many people tell you what they think you want to hear or what they would want to hear if they asked the same question which you have asked them… that’s not helpful. He looked at me as though I was insane and replied that I was the warmest person he knew. I argued with him and he argued back, stating that the argument was like two people trying to decide on the shade of a colour when one of them was colour blind.

To me the most confusing aspect of feeling occurs in the land of Shoulds. When other people feel that you should feel something which you don’t, perhaps because they do and want you to feel as they feel because that supports how they feel or because they have bought into the rules of Shoulds about feelings.

Such as if someone insults you, you should feel offended. But what if I don’t feel anything about the insult because I didn’t take it personally, because I knew that the person expressing the insult was just expressing their own feeling and their feeling does not belong to me.

offended

When someone asks me – What are you feeling or how are you feeling – I often answer with an – I don’t know or a nothing. It’s true and yet not true. I do know, and I’m not feeling nothing, it’s just that what I’m feeling is so subtle it is like breathing. It’s there but not there. It is important yet not important, when it is it vital it will make itself very known and very clear. It will express itself in 3D.

When someone does not accept that, when they demand that I feel, or when their feelings invade my personal space…

introverting

…I withdraw into privacy. I’m not shutting you out or shutting myself in, I’m just retreating to that place where I can relax and enjoy the release from feeling, yet still feel what I’m feeling. Breathe without paying attention to every breath as though it was my last.

Mary – Patty Griffin

Don’t listen to the words, words are words, feel the feeling and let it flow…

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36 thoughts on “What Are You Feeling?

  1. Thanks so much for opening up and sharing this. Robert Johnson who is a Jungian has called ours a feeling wounded society, which is why I think it is such a huge issue for so many people. When I got sober and started all kinds of exploration and reading I came across John Bradshaw’s book. Healing the Shame That Bind you. In that book he showed how our feelings can become bound in shame by parents so we cant even have the feeling without at the same time having shame about it. I could relate to that and when alcohol went out of my life suddenly this vast inner world of feelings started to open up, but so many people had a problem with it. This is a life times work maybe for us to come to some kind of peace around the fact that we do feel and that feelings can be guides. I often wonder why, at school they teach all kinds of superfluous c”@7 and don’t teach kids about emotional literacy, how to understand and value their feelings and see what they are trying to say. Also how to talk to others about how they are feeling. In our family we never talked about any of this. I just witnessed a lot of Mum’s emotional storms and Dad sidestepping or laughing it off.

    John Bradshaw calls emotions energy in motion. e – motion. I love that idea of breaking words down to see a deeper meaning or sense :).

    I was raised in the Catholic system and talk about a land of guilt, ought and should. Fuck…..I also learned in my family that you reached for alcohol to put on top of a huge bag of unarticulated feelings… As a child I know we are reading the energetic climate of mum, dad, siblings and the interactions between all the parts, absorbing it into our unconscious and then trying to find a way through it, to express ourselves but it can be so difficult. I ended up so hypervigilant but also like you leaning into the silence and aloneness, not only to find distance, but to explore my inner world but with no one else but me to make sense of it. Maybe this is how a lot of writers are born?

    What if they made that chart available in school for kids to understand what they were feeling and why. To trust that it all made sense instead of being told “you don’t feel that way”.

    You punctuate your blogs with such amazing images and sayings. I’m going to write some of those down in my little book of quotes. 🙂

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    1. Thank you 😀

      Ha! John Bradshaw… I’ve just been time-traveled to the late 80’s or was it the early 90’s. Breaking words down like that was very in during the New Age and self-help movement. I liked it too, totally messed with my dyslexia 😉 but a very interesting way to look at words, kind of taking the etymology of words and making it less intellectual and more intuitive. Adding a twist.

      I am so relieved that I didn’t have religion added to the screwed up mix which I had growing up. I can see how that has played out for so many people and I doubt if my mind could have dealt with that on top of everything else.

      Me too with the hypervigilance…I think that’s why I have had bruxism since before I had teeth. It takes forever to take the edge off of being constantly vigilant and it is so exhausting!

      I think the educational system is overloaded as it is, and like with all things of a communal, societal nature they can’t start from scratch so they cobble stuff together, add a bit of new, take away a bit of old, have to deal with objections left and right on any changes, even minor ones, and bureaucracy all over the place, and hope that children get the extras they need at home or away from school. Ideally education should be a combination of home and school, but…

      And most adults never had the benefit of a chart like that, and most adults have a hard time with feeling… it may take a while for things to make more sense in the way humans do things… like handle and learn to handle feelings.

      I like your idea. And in some ways what we’re doing now on a personal level, seeking to understand and pass on something more healthy and deep and meaningful… I think the adults of today, in spite of all the bad press we get, are slowly creating a better future… takes time, humans are slow learners as sometimes it takes a lifetime to figure things out. I do however think kids today… way smarter than the adults, so maybe it’s in their hands, minds and hearts 🙂

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      1. That is so true, we are trying and if you look at the healings and insights that have come on board, especially since the 50s it is showing that we are becoming more conscious and aware and trying to seek healthier ways of being and expressing… I have a really deep belief that what has occurred for us as humans collectively and evolutionarily is all part of a much bigger journey. If you look at it in this way all the tough stuff and difficulties could actually have been necessary for us to awaken to understandings that would not have come in any other way.

        And I also agree so deeply that children coming into the world now seem to be more connected, more able to trust their guts, softer, yet tougher and more aware than my generation (born in the 60s). I love being around my friend’s children for this reason and find it so healing, especially with the nephews I am close to there is a kind of loveliness to the connection that is very special to me and I value greatly. I can sometimes feel much less evolved….so maybe if souls are returning to earth again they have learned some of the lessons we didn’t get to learn, who knows. Its just a thought. 🙂

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        1. I think that the children and youth of today (I sound like a fuddy old duddy saying that) are wonderful, the one thing which keeps striking me is how polite they are compared to me when I was their age (yup, I said it) and how intelligent, aware, and thoughtful they are, especially as they are more exposed to the world and everything and everyone in it than we were and are bombarded with so much conflicting information in high doses. Life is moving at a quicker pace and although it isn’t more chaotic than it was when we were younger (remember living under the constant threat of nuclear war), it is still chaotic and the chaos is more vivid partly because of the media and internet coverage of every little thing which occurs.

          We live in interesting times (always have) but the most interesting aspect of these times is the evolution of generations which has been more rapid than usual. The next generation is always a progression of those which came before, they’re a level-up and they wear it well 🙂

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        1. Thank you 🙂 Love your new theme!

          I think you might find this link useful – http://en.support.wordpress.com/posts/tags/ – you don’t seem to be Tagging your posts, Tags enable your posts to be found and thus your blog to be found by readers too. So when you write about ‘astrology’ you add that as a Tag to it, and anyone perusing the ‘Astrology’ Tags will find your post there, if you don’t put the Tag on your post, your post can’t be found – not easily anyway as there is a lot of content on the internet and on WordPress.

          It takes a while to get the hang of the technical side of blogging, but WordPress have a good support section. Have you Followed – http://dailypost.wordpress.com/ – they have a series about how to attract more readers to your blog and other aspects of building your blog and making it visible – http://dailypost.wordpress.com/category/general-advice-pro-tips/

          The important thing is to keep at it and evolve it at your own pace 🙂

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  2. Ursula, girl… I’d swear you’re in my head some days. ☺

    The feeling chart? What immediately jumped out at me was the frequency of the word Self-shaming.

    I’ve been thinking about feelings lately, and about feeling them.

    In my childhood, I was expected not to have feelings. It was all part of pretending we were normal and happy, and that everything was normal and happy. Having a feeling meant I might inconvenience my parents, put them on the spot, make them uncomfortable. Gasp!

    Unlike your parents, mine were withdrawn the large majority of the time. Other than the occasional outburst via alcoholism, it was quiet. Painfully, achingly quiet. My home was infected with a need for silence. Nobody spoke up. Nobody spoke.

    My mind compensated. I turned to my mind to handle my feelings, largely to turn them off. It wasn’t the feelings themselves that were bad. It was the act of feeling was bad, the verb. The doing of it. Even now, I’m much more comfortable intellectualizing life, than feeling it. It is the single, most damaging lingering effect of my childhood.

    You wrote: “When someone asks me – What are you feeling or how are you feeling – I often answer with an – I don’t know or a nothing. It’s true and yet not true. I do know, and I’m not feeling nothing, it’s just that what I’m feeling is so subtle it is like breathing. It’s there but not there. It is important yet not important, when it is it vital it will make itself very known and very clear. It will express itself in 3D”.

    Spot on. And when the feeling makes itself known and clear, let’s say anger or resentment or sorrow, I’d swear it could swallow me whole. It doesn’t. Still, that fear of annihilation is so deeply ingrained in me.

    With this being said, I’m aware that feeling my feelings is not a panacea for everything that ails me. And feelings can be just as faulty as thoughts, which is where emotional reasoning enters the picture. And THAT is really what I’m working on, emotional reasoning. I see it as the mind meeting the heart, and affirming the true-ness of the moment. Is this feeling faulty in some way? Does it stand up to the light of truth? Is it really reflective of reality? Was it dumped into me by somebody else? Does it serve me?

    It’s odd you should mention the word Should. I’m trying to delete Should from my vocabulary. I wonder if everyone has their “word”, that one word in the language that does their selves harm. For one of friend of mine, that word is Failure. That word has plagued her life and has its roots in her childhood. For me, it’s Should. Words are powerful.

    You know, this may all sound like “uh, duh, no-brainer” for people who were raised in an emotionally-free household. However, for someone like me, I might as well be travelling to Pluto.

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    1. Oh, and Mary by Patti Griffin…. It’s one of my favorite songs of all time. I saw her sing it live in Pennsyvlania with Emmylou Harris, as part of the Concerts for a Landmine Free Word. It was beautiful. She said she wrote it for her grandmother.

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      1. That must have been wonderful! Live music is pure energy, and you get the vibration from the audience too mingling with the raw soul of the artists!

        I love that song, feeling expressed in music is the language of feeling, it is sensory 😀

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    2. You have a wonderful mind, and I definitely don’t think any of what you’ve expressed would fall into the duh no-brainer category. I also think that emotionally-free households are rare. So much of what we see when we look at others and their lives is based on our own projections and on the facades they create for us to see so that we don’t see what secrets they are keeping. I think most people are pretending to a certain degree to be ‘normal’ and that is normal. When you take the time to get to know someone a vast hidden universe opens up.

      I remember as a child I used to love going to stay with friends for the weekend because I always thought I was going to experience what it was like to have a ‘normal’ family for a little while… and I have yet to find a ‘normal’ family. It could be because I never had normal friends, but they seemed normal to me compared to myself… it’s an optical illusion.

      The word thing is a fascinating subject. Words are just words until we imbue them with power, then they become a symbol of something intensely personal.

      I read a book a while back which was all about the hidden meaning within words. Not so much the dictionary definition as breaking words down and into separate words, such as disease and dis-ease. That kind of thing. I probably should not have read that book as I have dyslexia and it added to the glitches which my brain already deals with and quite enjoys 😉

      Exploring blogs I often find that theme. A word as a pet peeve. I read a post recently in which someone took the word ‘sheeple’ to pieces. I agreed with what he wrote, using words to objectify others especially in a manner intended to create a superior/inferior divide with the user of the word coming out on top, is not a good path to go down, but then again understanding the reasons why someone is doing that is important, perhaps they are doing it because they feel lost in a crowd and need to define themselves, it’s their way of staying afloat and not drowning.

      The word ‘narcissist’ is beginning to bother me. It’s gathering momentum as a way to isolate someone in a hostile manner, kind of like ‘witch’ once applied. It is important to give a name to something to make the unknown known, to clarify confusion, and explain it, understand it, but when labeling starts to tip into something more sinister, then it becomes worrisome, especially when it is a label applied to living beings. Giving a label to a human can dehumanised them for other humans. History is rife with examples of how this spirals out of control, and loses all perspective and reason.

      I try to explore the words which strike me in a hard way, because they are a door into a part of my psyche. What is the power which this word has over me and why?

      Should, to me, sort of falls into the category of… actually it is funny that you mentioned Pluto, are you into astrology as a psychological tool?… anyway, astrologically Pluto is connected to power – abuse and right use of… and that’s where Should enters the picture for me. It is an order. You should do this or feel this, but you’re not which is wrong. Should is an order of sorts. It’s the mind making a decision based on… what? It’s an assumption, an expectation which is disappointed, an attitude…

      I tend not to single out words so much as the attitude which tends to go with certain words. It’s not so much the word which bothers me as the attitude which most commonly goes with that particular word.

      This post which I wrote a while back kind of ties in with this – https://anupturnedsoul.wordpress.com/2013/05/03/you-cant-make-somone-love-you/

      I completely agree with you about emotional intelligence. It’s a very important skill. It helps to figure out which feelings are real and which are intellectual constructs – the mind can replicate any feeling in our range of feeling, and do it better than feeling itself (This is behind a lot of the ‘feelings’ which those with NPD have).

      The sensation of being annihilated by feeling stems from childhood – that’s how a child experiences emotion and if they are unable to express their emotion, and are not taught how to work with their feelings, those feelings become possible threats to their survival, enemies instead of friends with benefits.

      Your comment is like a gold mine for inspiration for posts! 🙂

      Have I asked you if you have a blog? If you don’t… perhaps you should (sorry, couldn’t resist). Seriously… you have much insightful treasure to share. And blogging flows both ways where treasures shared is concerned 🙂

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      1. Thank you, Ursula. Hmmm… a blog of my own? I will think on it. I mean, why not? I have to say, I am really enjoying this community. That’s what it is…community. And posting feels cathartic and liberating. It’s good.

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        1. Oh, about Pluto. Wow, that IS interesting that Pluto is related to power. I did not know.

          I mentioned Pluto, but not in relation to astrological forecasts and such. Whenever I have a long distance to go, I always think Pluto. Not only because it’s the furthest away in distance, but because it’s so cold. And I’ve always had a soft spot for Pluto. Imagine, all the eons being considered a planet just like the others, and then some academic in some high falutin’ university comes along and says “Pluto, I’m sorry, but you’re really not a planet anymore, darn for you…really, chin up”. 🙂

          I would like to learn more about astrology and “my chart”, but I’m not sure where to start. I’m a Virgo. That’s about all I can tell you at this point. Can you point me in the right direction? How would I start? It all sounds so fascinating.

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          1. The simplest way to find your chart and also learn more about it is to go to – http://www.astro.com/ – once there, go to My Astro on the menu bar at the top and you can sign in as a Guest or create a free profile, then input your birth data and it immediately creates your birth chart. Once you have your chart you can browse the Free Horoscopes section – the Astro Click Portrait is a good place to start, it is interactive and you can click on different planets and find out about their placements in your chart. It gives you interpretations written by a very good astrologer and explains how you may experience that aspect and placement. There is loads on the site to explore and to learn more at your own pace.

            If you need any help, let me know… however being a Virgo means you’ll probably figure it out quickly and I will probably be asking you for help 😉 My partner is a Virgo and the way he learns new things is a skill which astonishes me every time. One minute he knows nothing, the next he knows everything (okay, I’m exaggerating, but that’s how it appears to me).

            And I’m now intensely curious about your chart, so I hope you’ll share some of it, if only where Pluto is 🙂

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            1. Thank you! Thank you! I’ll check the website out, do some research and report back 🙂 My mind is happiest when there is something new to learn about. I think I’m an information-junkie. New, new, new. Need to learn new things.

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              1. Love it! Me too, I love learning new things even though I tend to do it backwards. It’s like opening the windows of the mind and letting fresh air flow in 😀 I look forward to seeing what you discover! One of the things I love about astrology is that it’s a great way to find a new perspective on what we already know about ourselves and discussing what we find, sharing it with others can open up new ways of looking at things 🙂

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        2. WordPress is a great community, it is welcoming and open, inspiring, and respectful of the individual voice. There is a vast variety of people expressing themselves in as many ways as their creativity needs. And the format gives you flexibility, freedom and also control of the useful and positive kind.

          I use my blog as a form of therapy and, yes, it is cathartic and liberating. It has helped me to move past my past and my self-imposed limitations. And to face some old fears in a supportive environment.

          The way you express yourself and share yourself in your comments is beautiful and… as I read your words I find myself thinking that your comments would make great posts on a blog which is powered by you and the inspiration, feelings and thoughts which flow through you. 🙂

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  3. Very moving. I sense somehow feelings were a burden to you, or maybe it’s just an impression as it is related to the concept of guilt and shoulds.

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    1. Thank you 🙂

      The feelings of others were in part felt as a burden when I was younger, and sometimes they still are although I’m more at ease with the feelings of others now and I’m more able to see where the responsibility lies. So your impression is accurate, and since we both are children of NPD parents, we have connections as NPD parents disown their feelings and make them a burden for others.

      I tend to deal with guilt and shoulds these days with a shrug of whatever… whatever is one of my favourite philosophical movements 😉 a non-aggressive form of menefreghismo.

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      1. You know, as you always encourage me to express myself I try hard to do it, but the feeling I get while I am doing it is that I am aggressive:)…another trait of Child of N??
        i see your Italian is alive and kicking!!!!

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          1. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!Orrore!!!!!it makes me shrink and cringe craving to find a soundproof hole where to tuck in!!!
            back to serious issues, “what seems aggressive to me is not aggressive to others”, I should write this statement on my walls as my threshold for aggressiveness is very low and prettyinadequate to current standards or- i might be defensite to something with sounds too familiar. And yes, when you are used not to express yourself, everything echoes differently. i am experimenting it here, when I have just sent my comment I feel it’s too much of everything.

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            1. 😀 You can’t escape from Toto Cutugno!!!

              What are these ‘current standards’ to which you are comparing yourself? You know humans make stuff up all the time, don’t you? No one knows why humans exist or what purpose we serve… we’ve been trying to figure out the meaning of life since… well, for a very long time and no one knows what it is but many have tried to make their version the official one using ‘proof’ – you know, ‘proof’ human style.

              I saw a great quote the other day – The grass is always greener on the other side because it is fertilised with bullshit.

              So there is no right or wrong way to be or do or speak and express yourself, there are just a lot of opinions about what is right and what is wrong. Humans love pretending that opinions are facts, makes the opinions seem more real which makes them rather self-important.

              The internet provides great therapy for those who have lived in silence, because you can experiment with expressing yourself out loud yet at the same time you can stay in silence. It’s a good way to dip your toes in the water to test the temperature, and maybe then go a little further and deeper when you’re ready 🙂

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    1. Thank you 🙂

      My tumblr is a bit of more of a mess than my Wp. I’m glad you answered both.

      I loved your post last night (my last night) about glitches… since I have a very glitchy brain and often don’t know if a glitch is actual and factual or in my mind, it was spot on and superb!

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      1. My Tumblr is a complete mess. It is the only place where I let all of the voices in my have their way. My Tumblr can be offensive to people, I think. I am glad you enjoyed my post. I am trying to find a way to deal with the glitches.

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        1. One of the things I love about tumblr is that it encourages mess, because that mess is creative, free flowing, all-expressive chaos. It’s organic. My dash is bursting with the voices of thousands of people expressing themselves, all of themselves in so many different ways, the energy is fabulous, inspiring and incredibly beautiful!

          I find it difficult to imagine how your tumblr could offend anyone, but then again that’s what some people are seeking because they enjoy being offended and can be offended by anything and everything. Humans are strange creations. In some ways, I suppose it is a compliment if you manage to offend someone because you have challenged them to think… and that is what artists seek to do when they express themselves, provoke a reaction to their self-expression. 🙂

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  4. I love so much of this post. I thought the feeling chart was really helpful. I may print that off and work with my stepkids on this idea. I also liked what your wrote about your parents’ feelings, that they were “invasive”. excellent word to describe what happens in these situations.

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    1. Thank you.

      I love this chart, it’s a useful way to work with feelings without judgement. The website of the creator of the chart is quite good too, although it’s more conventional in approach to issues.

      Emotions and feelings are like chemicals and they interact with the emotions and feelings of others creating something different from the original, a blend from the interaction which is sometimes unstable and volatile or the exact opposite at times. Which may be part of the reason why human interaction is often labeled – it’s complicated.

      Children often experience their parents’ emotions and feelings and the emotions and feelings of other significant adults in their lives as invasive because they have yet to form solid boundaries between themselves and others. They sometimes feel that their feelings are not considered as important as those of adults. How the adults feel affects the survival of the child.

      We’re all winging it a bit 🙂

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  5. First off, this is an interesting treatment of feelings. I like studying that chart. Secondly, your parents syndrome strikes me as a type of manic-depression, but they couldn’t both have had it, in likelihood. Retreating into one’s self is what one needs to do in that environment. My father is mildly manic-depressive, as is his whole family and these people have extreme swings as well as high demands for perfection in others, because they cannot deal with any external difficulty, as they are over-taxed dealing with their internal volatility. Children of M-Ds end up creating an outward barrier of calm and control in order to weather the emotional storms. I certainly did and that background is one reason I went into psychology. Much to think about here. Thank you for this thought-provoking post.

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    1. Thank you.

      That chart is fascinating. I’ve explored the blog by the creator of the chart, and it offers some alternatives to conventional thought too, but his posts also stray into more conventional thought and my preference is for things which stimulate thinking outside of the box. The chart stands is useful as a way to explore feelings without judging them or labeling them. I like to see them as a part of a primal instinct. I mean, where do feelings come from and why do we have them?

      My parents both had NPD – people with NPD often couple together – so much of what they expressed was about performance and appearance. You could almost hear them saying during a dramatic feeling display – Do I look good wearing this feeling? In some ways it could be considered performance art. They were both artists (different arts) so it fits their temperaments and careers.

      My father was more manic in his mood swings than my mother and he did suffer from deep depression, but there was always a sense that he was in control of his moods rather than the other way around. He was very aware of other people and how he impacted them. So how much was real feeling and how much was designed for public consumption was hard to define. He could switch gears very suddenly, so figuring out what he was really feeling was difficult.

      Both of them demanded perfection of others, but they didn’t want others to achieve perfection, this was their domain and trespassers were dealt with ruthlessly.

      Children are hard-wired to survive, so they adapt quickly to the situation which they are in. This can adversely affect the adult whom the child becomes because we aren’t always aware of the decisions which our child self makes for survival purposes. Being calm during someone else’s emotional storm helps to protect the core self, but sometimes the core self gets trapped by the protective barrier.

      It’s an intensely interesting area of study. Whenever I read the work of a psychologist I can feel the inspiration which led them into psychology. A need to solve a personal puzzle or paradox, the exploration of which helps others to unravel a knot, but does it helps the person who is trying to solve their own knot or do they get caught in to threads belonging to other’s knots?

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