Feelings Are Not Facts
Chances are you learned from an early age to judge your feelings – and yourself – when expressing a feeling others didn’t like. And without any real education and experience of the value of your feelings, you shut down and began suppressing, repressing and depressing strong emotional reactions and feelings, particularly the ones you judge as not okay, not appropriate, “negative”.
Yet your ability to feel and react emotionally to things is part of being human and, as such, has value and purpose and the power to transform you and your experience of life.
First let go of the old childhood belief: “Some feelings are bad and some feelings are good” and instead adopt the belief: “Feelings are neither bad nor good, they are all just feelings and exist to let me know how I feel about whatever is occurring”.
Then realise your feelings show the stories you make up in your head, the meaning you give to everything that happens, often without checking to see if what you have assumed is actually what is happening. When you decide that what you feel is the truth about whatever is happening, you have just agreed with the story you made up!
You have turned the feeling into a fact – when in fact it is not the truth about the situation or experience, it is simply the truth, the fact of what you are feeling.
Accept that what you are feeling is okay … it has purpose and value and is something you can respond to. Then let yourself acknowledge it fully … which means feel it in your body and let it go … breathe and allow and let it release (Jill Bolte-Taylor says it takes 90 seconds for the energy to move through your body and release). You will discover the freedom that comes from being the cause of your feelings and emotions rather than at their effect.
When you stop turning your feelings into facts, when you stop recycling the old painful movies (and feelings) about your “not good enough” stuff you will free yourself to consciously choose the meaning you put on everything and how you feel.
Your feelings exist to be felt, responded to and released … not recycled.
The Business Of Feelings
Your feelings and how you react or respond to emotional complexity is one of the most important things to master when building a successful business.
Yet this is not a subject that I have ever seen adequately addressed in any training, MBA Program or University Degree about how to run a successful business!
Every problem you have in business (and in life) can be traced back to some emotional blockage. If you want to change something that’s not working; transform a relationship or situation; resolve a conflict … first you need to tell the truth about what’s actually going on right now.
You probably know how to tell most of the truth … and yet when things don’t change, it’s because you have left out the most critical element of the whole truth … the feelings … yours and theirs.
How often are you asked/do you ask this question in a business context …
How are you feeling?
In my experience, this single question can save a lot of time when dealing with conflict and the messy, unpredictable human element in business. And let’s face it, business is just people doing stuff!
And why would you want to get feelings on the table?
So you can respond to the whole of what’s going on at any point in time. Feelings are not facts … when you respond to the feelings and let them be felt and released … you then have space to discuss the “facts” in ways that actually work. And when you respond to the whole truth, everything changes.
When you unblock the feelings, you liberate yourself and your business to become what you dream.
Feelings … nothing more than feelings …
Who Are You Kidding?
Last week while waiting at the the pedestrian lights to cross a main road in the CBD, a woman with a pram in one hand and a small boy holding the other approached, looked both ways then proceeded to cross the road, seeming to ignore the bright red “Don’t Walk” sign. Her toddler cried out: “No, mummy, the light is red…” whereupon the mother said, “It’s ok” and kept going, taking the reluctant small boy with her.
Now I can’t know if they talked about this further or indeed if the mother said anything at all to ally her child’s concern. I understand why she did what she did: She had checked and deemed it safe to cross and she did. This is a common occurrence in our busy cities. Lots of people all in a hurry to get somewhere and deciding in the moment what risks to take to get wherever quicker … often with a lack of awareness of how their behaviour impacts those around them.
What I noticed was the energy of fear I felt from the child and it took me back to the first time in my childhood when my mother told me “everything is all right” when clearly it wasn’t. I remember feeling very scared about what was happening and when mum said what she did, I decided that what I was feeling must be wrong … and by association that meant I was wrong … not good enough … painful and confusing.
Many years later, well into my personal journey, I had an ‘ah-hah’ moment about this: her intention was loving and her communication was incomplete. I realised that my mother said what she did to reassure me that everything would be ok – that she was in charge and not putting us at risk. However she didn’t communicate this explicitly to me … she took the short-cut and said what she wanted me to hear: “everything IS all right” as if declaring it would make it so for me. What she didn’t know how to do was to acknowledge and respond to what I was feeling as well as telling me it would be ok. She did what she knew how to do out of her past – not safe to get “emotional”, let your intellect lead the way. A belief pattern that I also took on from an early age!
Becoming emotionally aware, resourced and up-to-date has been a conscious focus throughout my own journey and in the work I do. Opening up about my childhood feelings with my mother and other family members has been healing and liberating. And I am very fortunate to have been able to have this specific conversation with my mother in the later years of her life.
I hope the mother and child I encountered last week have a chance to do the same.
Children are great imitators. So give them something great to imitate.
In my experience and the work I do, feelings are the single most pervasive reason people don’t tell the truth, don’t show up and have all kinds of issues. Feelings definitely have a purpose – watch my video and find out what that is!