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knowing what we're feeling

Posted May 09 2010 5:45am

The overly-ambitious and perfectionistic and "have to be every second in control" amongst us will think they should know exactly what they feel every second of the day.

And it's true that we ought to strive to be familiar with, and accepting of, our emotions. BUT, that doesn't mean we'll always know exactly what they are.

Sometimes we'll have a clear idea- like primary colors- red, blue, yellow (I just realized I may have forgotten what the primary colors are... oh well, someone, probably Courtney, our resident literalist, will correct me) are pretty darn clear to identify. But when you get into various combinations of colors it can become harder to put an exact name to the shade or hue of a color.

If you come across a color you can't put a name to, it doesn't mean that color is not real, and it doesn't mean you're a failure if you can't identify it with a word.

Same is true for emotions. One of the crazy things about us humans is that we're hard-wired to feel combinations (even seemingly contradictory combinations) of emotions all at one time. Funky.

The more perfectionistic among us, when faced with a combination emotion, can't figure out exactly what to call the thing, how exactly to categorize it, what exactly to do with it, and even... yes... what kind of reaction to have to it! At this point they usually become exhausted and demoralized and sort of overwhelmed with the whole thing and say, simply, "I don't feel anything" or something like that.

Got to say, it's just fine to say to ourselves, "yep, feeling something right now. Can't tell exactly what it is. Maybe can pick out some themes to it, but can't assign a word for the entire assortment of my experience right now...but I'm definitely feeling." (ok, I know, that's such a dorky thing to say to yourself. you can come up with your own version of how to say it!!! sheesh....)

The scrupulously honest part comes in where you acknowledge that you are indeed having an emotion. It's also honest to acknowledge that you might not know exactly what it is. Or that you sort of do. Or partly do... or whatever happens to be true at that moment.
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