“I am dying inside. I’m dying because I’m so numb. I don’t feel pain or excitement; I’m not even bitter.”
– Julie Delpy as Celine in Before Sunset
We spend so much time trying to avoid feelings, or at the very least we seek to feel only the pleasurable ones – the “good” emotions like happiness, excitement, and love. But the truth is, feelings, even the bad ones, are the sign of being alive. If you’re not feeling anything, then you’re not much different from one of the mindless rabble of zombies on The Walking Dead.
Feelings send us messages. My wife is a hypnotherapist who works extensively with a theory called “The Secret Language of Feelings.” Her work focuses on the fact that your feelings are sending you messages, and you live your best life when you can learn to hear and respond appropriately to those messages.
Pain is a message in the body. It says: “Stop doing what you’re doing.” Similarly, sadness is a message. It says: “I’ve lost something.” Fear says: “I’m in danger.” Anger says: “I’ve been treated unfairly.” When you feel these things, it’s vital to listen to them and create a response that deals with the actual message.
We so often take our anger out on others. We hit walls, scream at those weaker than us, slam doors. None of that resolves the reason for the anger. When we’re sad we often overeat (hence “comfort foods”), get drunk (“I need a drink”), or smoke “”It steadies my nerves). Those things distract us from the message, but they don’t resolve the sadness. You’re just sad AND fat; sad AND drunk; sad AND smoking outside, alone, in the cold.
Yesterday was “Listen.” Today is “Feel.” I think they go together.