Thinking about feeling

If you just give your emotions the steering wheel every time they surface, you’ll be at their mercy. You may even be confused by your own responses to things and you will likely feel out of control. It can seem like our immediate emotional reactions are the most authentic ones, but, I don’t think this is true.

Why we feel as we do is a complicated mix of things. Our personal histories are in there, and so are the stories our families tell, or the stories we tell about them. Our culture is in there, our class background, educational experiences, previous relationships… and much of this is simply stuff that happened to us, it isn’t who we are.

If, for example you’ve grown up being told that being queer is disgusting and a choice, you may well not feel good about any queer feelings you have, and you may feel that you should be able to make yourself be not-queer. This way lies a great deal of pain. Finding your authentic self means getting rid of the things you’ve been taught to feel.

When you think about your feelings it becomes possible to question where they come from. Are they really yours? Is this what you’ve been taught to think and feel? For anyone unpicking trauma or trying to deal with depression, anxiety, abuse legacies, ancestral wounding and the like, these questions open the door to changing things. Once you know where a feeling comes from you can start to change your relationship with it.

This is a slow, often arduous process. Things you’ve been taught to feel from an early age aren’t easily pulled out of you, but it can be done. Once you start to loosen their grip, there is more room to find out what your own feelings might be. When you’ve found your own feelings are, life gets easier, there’s more room. It is exhausting and demoralising fighting yourself because what you’ve been taught to feel isn’t right for you. It’s not an unusual experience for people coming out of religious backgrounds they found oppressive and into Paganism.

Powerful emotions are persuasive. They seem like they must be authentic, but we can be trained to feel in certain ways, and that training can be undone and sometimes needs to be.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

8 responses to “Thinking about feeling

  • Voicing-Upwards

    You have to learn to control your emotions.
    That’s something I’ve found many successful people and entrepreneurs say all the time! Easier said than done though!

    • Nimue Brown

      I’m not sure control is what I’m after, just options. To know what a feeling is and where it fits and whether to go with it or pull it back. But then, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to be Mr Spok, sometimes I need less control, not more 🙂

  • River

    “If, for example you’ve grown up being told that being queer is disgusting and a choice, you may well not feel good about any queer feelings you have, and you may feel that you should be able to make yourself be not-queer. This way lies a great deal of pain. Finding your authentic self means getting rid of the things you’ve been taught to feel.”

    Erm…yes, thank you for somehow being in my head???

    Seriously, though, you’re absolutely right, and it is a lifetime’s work (at least) picking apart the trauma from the real self.

    • Nimue Brown

      well, I’m glad that was useful! What I know at this point is that it is possible to unpick and rethink anything, and that there’s a lot of good even in small gains, or partial gains, or gains that only work some of the time, even. Once you start, it gets better.

  • Sheila Murrey

    Profound thoughts here, “For anyone unpicking trauma or trying to deal with depression, anxiety, abuse legacies, ancestral wounding and the like, these questions open the door to changing things.” This aligns for me, as I am launching a new transformational coaching (circle) program, Integrated Spiral.
    We stand on great shoulders of our ancestors, but can be burdened by wounds (ancestral or self inflicted), stuck in depression, or pain or managing to get into toxic or abusive relationships. Then becoming estranged from family too. We feel we’re in a perpetual cycle (downward trending).
    My intention is to offer a hand up (up the spiral). ❤️🦋🌀

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