In past blogs I have written about feelings as messages from your unconscious self, that vast part of you that runs your body, stores your memories, generates sensation and emotion and does everything for you that you do not deliberately do e.g. digest food, make your heart beat, see, hear, recall what a door handle is and how to use it... It's humbling to realise that while the conscious mind can retain approximately seven things at once, the unconscious mind stores and simulataneously processes thousands.
Feelings invite you to pay attention to something. For example, you may feel a sense of joy and know that what you are doing in that moment is energizing for you. You may feel a sadness that lets you know that something feels lost, or missing.
However, sometimes it is not clear why we feel something. Many times I have worked with clients who are confused by why they have low mood or anxiety. They report having a lovely life free of significant concerns, and feel a guilt for what they feel. This blaming of themselves for feelings over which they have little control can make the situation feel even worse.
Feelings have a logic, but it is not the linear kind of logic that our thinking brains are accustomed to. Feelings arise out of our physical form, our limbic system, and live in a more ancient part of the brain than the thinking brain that gives us awareness of them and the capacity to reflect on them. This means that we sometimes can not think our way out of something, a more holistic approach is called for.
If you can have a gentle, accepting curiosity about your symptoms, they will begin to reveal what the message is they hold. This may involve sitting with yourself without conscious thought. It may be about doing things you find physically soothing, like having a warm bath or shower. It may be about gentle movement, like yoga or t'ai chi. It may be about working relationally with a psychotherapist to slow down and reflect on your body as well as your thinking.
Oftentimes feelings reveal an incomplete pattern from the past. For example, if you did not have the support and encouragement you needed to fully feel your feelings as a child, you may still avoid them now, and low mood or anxiety may come up as a defensive mechanism to help you feel safe. Alternatively, you may have learned that anger was the only acceptable emotion, and be prone to exploding rather than to connecting with feelings that are more challenging for you, perhaps like sadness or guilt. There are as many explanations as there are people, and no two of us are exactly the same.
The helpful thing to know is that your experience does have its own internal logic and coherance. When feelings confuse you they are like a code that has not yet been cracked. Find the pattern and they will begin to make sense.
If you would like to spend some time building the capacity to safely feel, and to explore what it is that comes up that confuses or disturbs you, then get in touch.