MORE KEYS FOR UNDERSTANDING FEELINGS
7. Good feelings cannot be ordered in like pizza. There is no magic, or press-button way to instantly summon up good feelings. But good feelings will come as
a result of true thinking and healthy behaviour. Ultimately my feelings will get better as my habits of thinking and acting get better.
8. Like turning a tap on and off, control of feelings means keeping some feelings in and letting others flow freely out. We call this regulated spontaneity. That means avoiding the extremes of rigid regulation or too much spontaneity. Am I over-controlled or under-controlled in the way I deal with my feelings? For example habits of crying, outbursts of anger or resentful silences would point to under-control of feelings whereas rarely expressing love, laughter, praise, compassion or prayer would signal over-control.
9. Like trying to catch a butterfly, good feelings are elusive. The harder I try to get pleasure and pleasant feelings, the more they tend to escape me. Either I try
too hard or I need more and more to satisfy me. Likewise, the more I run away from suffering the less it will take to torment me. The trick is to moderate my
wants and thus learn to absorb tension, discomfort and inconvenience.
10. There is no way of being simply for feelings or against feelings. They just are. Everybody goes by feelings of one kind or another just as everybody has
a particular way of thinking and acting. Learning to manage your feelings is vitally important for your mental health. The whole question is which feelings
do I chose to entertain and act upon and which to recognise as being unhelpful or destructive. For example, we all know the feeling of wanting to ‘strangle’ someone, but if we act on that feeling we become a murderer. Such powerful negative feelings can be a signal that something is wrong. If properly managed, these can be a source of new life. Anger can act like a river. When a river bursts its banks it destroys everything in its path. However, all its powerful energy can be harnessed to generate light. If I really understand and care for the true values of life, I will always have more important things to care about than how I feel.
11. In mature living, choices are not made on a whim or on a spur of the moment feeling. Only a process of reflection and deliberation will lead to growthful
and quality decisions. A good decision can be made in spite of feelings. Love is a decision not a feeling. Confidence is an attitude of mind not a feeling.
On the other hand, uncontrolled feelings of confidence can lead to disaster. (Walking off a cliff because you believe you can fly). Controlling your feelings means learning to be confident even when you feel afraid. Feelings are like horses and you are like the rider. Once your feelings are properly broken in, you and your feelings become a single team. They become servants and finally friends.
12. Growth in mental health means gradually learning the difference between what I feel like and what I really want. For example if you want to lose weight
you may still feel like eating chocolates. Over time what I really want should take into account my own and others’ vital needs. For example, I may want
promotion at work while my family may need me to spend more time at home.
13. More important than actually feeling good are my grounds for feeling good and these come from my response to life as a whole. My real grounds for joy,
gratitude and hope are always greater than my grounds for sorrow anger or fear. The complete picture of my life is designed to be beautiful and my ultimate story, if I so choose, will be a happy one.