While there may be a short-term gain realized by not acknowledging a secondary emotion, ultimately, there’s a consequential, long-term loss. The root cause of your distress remains unaddressed and therefore, unresolved. The key message is this: Being real with yourself by accurately, and vulnerably, identifying what you’re feeling is a big step forward toward regaining your emotional equilibrium.
Let’s face it. No matter how we struggle against our feelings at times, they show up anyway. We can try to reduce, eliminate, or avoid emotional discomfort in any number of ways: alcohol, drugs, sex, shopping, food…and the list goes on… Almost inevitably though, these kinds of short-term solutions just end up creating long-term problems. When we ignore feelings, they just keep ringing our metaphorical “mental doorbell” And they keep ringing, again and again and again until we have no choice but to let them in.
When we deny our feelings, they can get stronger over time. If only there was a way to manufacture an authentic emotion? There isn’t. Try this. Take a deep breath and ……feel joyful! Now... feel angry! Now, feel... calm! Didn’t work too well, right? Don’t worry, I have some good news.
While we can’t manufacture feelings, we can absolutely influence them. We’ll be exploring this in greater detail in Part II as we consider what we think about what we feel.