December 10 - A Formula for Identifying Our Feelings

At first when one experiences the thrill of truly connecting with others, it is exhilarating and joyful. You may have noticed those feelings when you were first falling in love or after feeling a part of a group for the first time. It is as if one could walk on air! You feel close and connected.

As you become more comfortable and the sharing goes to a deeper level, you will very likely begin to hear more emotion in their words as they share more intimately; before long, you might find yourself wanting to retreat into your addictive habit or just run far away.

“What happened?” you might ask…or you may just find yourself wanting to create some distance without even caring why!

Try to remember to ask yourself this question: “Did this conversation I just heard remind me of feelings that I might have tucked away a very long time ago? Are their stories bringing up emotions that I have feared and run from all of my life?”

Remember, to evoke old emotions, the stories do not have to share identical circumstances but rather similar feelings and emotions. Try to identify those feelings and begin to express them in a healthy way, for example, journaling. I might write something like the following:

“When I heard ‘xyz’ talking about her loneliness last night, I noticed I wanted to remove myself from the group. It was a downer. I couldn’t fix her, but I sure wanted to do so. Instead I found myself multitasking. I paid some bills, fixed dinner, and searched for a missing key. Hmmm, I wonder if I have any lonely feelings inside that this conversation threatened to ignite. Ooh yes, I remember…it reminds me of when my parents went to Europe when I was ten. I stayed with my aunt and my cousins. They were all one big happy family, and I felt so alone and excluded. I cried myself to sleep, all alone, every night. When I’d tell my aunt how I felt, she would give me a Popsicle or a book to read to ‘make’ me ‘feel better.’ She told me I would be fine. I wanted to call and tell my parents to come home so badly and take me home. I wanted to tell Aunt Helen that I wanted my mother. And more than almost anything (my first choice would have been that my mother was coming home!) I wanted her to tell me it was okay to miss her and that she would stay with me while I expressed my sadness. I needed to know I was safe and I mattered. I needed a safe place to cry.”

What I did in the above paragraph was to journal about:

1. What I felt in response to the circumstance today;

2. What the circumstance reminded me of from my past;

3. What I would have liked to have said as a child;

4. What I needed to hear or experience as a child.

This is a small formula for a huge step in development.

Now I can go back and read my own journaling and get ideas of what “xyz” might truly need…it will probably be very similar to that which I discovered that I needed so desperately as a child. I can actually be a healing agent for her as she was a “bottle-opener” for my emotions that needed expressing. I am able to listen to her now because I have expressed my feelings in a healthy way and have come to understand some of my own loneliness. I don’t have to search for an artificial substitute for connection or try to numb my feelings in anyway. As a result, I can stay connected to others wherever they happen to be emotionally in the moment which is what will truly alleviate the loneliness in each of us. I am becoming a true friend as I am becoming true to myself.  

What emotions send you running away from the connection to others that you have always wanted? Do you know why you react to this emotion in this way? Have you written in your journal about your reaction? What did you discover that you needed but were not given as a child? How can you give it to a child in a similar situation today? Are you willing to use your life to help another?

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