What are feelings anyway?

As a writer there are words I really like, but don’t use because it never seems appropriate. When do you need mellifluous in a sentence? When does communication justify apogee, let alone demand it (outside astronomy)?

But if you know these words, you can use them! You are the master of your own vocabulary and you don’t need an excuse or a chance to use words you love to read and sound.

Favourite feelings

Life has introduced us not only to wonderful words but wonderful feelings; yet we treat them in the same way. I once felt exquisite joy, and maybe one day I’ll be lucky enough to have an excuse to feel it again!

Circumstances once dictated a buoyant felicity but lately things have been utterly crap so I’ve put that good feeling in the archives for now.

These days everyday life seems to demand a grinding slog, so I keep that feeling near at hand to save me having to go look for it.

Feeling good is the goal

We’ve fallen hard for a big mistake: we think our feelings are by-products, epiphenomena, of material causes. We think things make us feel a certain way.

And even with the Abraham-Hicks material we can persist with this mistake, believing that our thoughts make us feel a certain way.

That’s not the worst interpretation to hold, but how about this instead: Feeling is what makes us feel a certain way, and reality helps inspire us to better and better feeling, but it doesn’t make us feel.

If you like the word mellifluous then use it wherever and however you like. If you like the feeling of freedom, relief, and peace, you can find those feelings and indulge in them anytime.

If we could take the feeling as prior and substantial instead of subsequent and ephemeral, then life would be very different. If I had sought feeling as the spiritual treasure instead of using it to keep score of how well I was doing, then I’d be there right now, feeling good and not caring about anything else.

What are feelings anyway?

I’m not going to launch into some deep-dive philosophical or historical, but I’ve been fascinated by past glimpses of the old view of human emotions in the medieval and classical world.

Back when I used to read Aquinas, he would describe, as if it were obvious, how feelings of love and joy are physically expansive and warming of the body, while in sadness and fear the vitality is suppressed or shrinks as evidenced by cold and shaking in the extremities and loss of colour in the complexion.

It’s fascinating not only that they had such a holistic view of the mind and body working together, but that joy and love were synonymous wth vitality whereas sorrow was directly opposed to it!

Feelings could be interpreted not as some messy and unnecessary mental by-product but as the very experience of life expanding and shrinking in response to our perceptions and experiences.

Consider in that context the significance of divinely infused love and joy, life eternal that did not shrink from worldly circumstances but trusted in the undying nature of the spirit that sustained it.

Participation in life, felt as joy and love, or to put it another way: the realisation that love and joy are our human experience of life itself.

Feeling is life itself

If we could understand our feelings as our experience of the life in us, the spirit that animates us, then reaching for and allowing good feelings to flow is literally the substance of our life and happiness here and now. And (to tie it all back) what could be more mellifluous than that? 😄

It’s not about answers

I spent years trying to make it. I spent years trying to find the answers. I had these feelings, I knew inspiration, but I thought the feeling and the inspiration were about what you then do with them.

Wrong way around, completely.

It’s all about the feeling and it’s all about the inspiration. Actions and answers and ideas can flow from that source, but don’t leave the source for any reason.

I thought I needed something to show for myself. But showing is about other people. I can’t share a feeling with you, and I don’t have to. A feeling is just for me. I’m the one who feels it, and that’s where putting myself first and caring about how I feel converge.

Every time I felt this good I’d look for the take-away. But there is no take-away when I’m here to stay. There’s nothing to take away because you’re not meant to leave. It’s not a brief reprieve of pleasure, delight, and satisfaction, it’s not a holiday, it’s where you live.

Welcome home, again. Try to stay this time. Don’t flee for any reason. You love it here, I promise.

Letting go 10: Insecurity

I sometimes get hit by feelings of insecurity, and I’d like to change that. So in this post I’ll go through some of the Abraham-Hicks teachings options to shift the insecurity.

1. Distraction

I can stay off the subject of insecurity and just focus on something that feels better.

2. Change my thoughts

I can look at my thoughts relating to insecurity and try to soften them. For example: instead of feeling insecure, i can start by framing it as not feeling as secure as I’d like. Even small shifts like this make the subject easier and softer to work with.

3. Times I do feel secure

I can think of times that I do feel secure and use those as a kind of touchstone. For example: I feel secure when I have a reason or purpose to justify my presence. So maybe I could look at my overall reason or purpose for existing?

4. Visualisation

I can imagine what I would act and feel and think like if I felt completely secure. If I can imagine it, I can practice it. And with practice it can become normal for me.

What these four methods show is that there are multiple ways to shift how we feel on a subject. Some methods might appeal to us more than others, but there’s no single way.

At the same time what they all have in common is to feel better. The goal is to feel better and the method is to feel better.

Insecurity is one expression of resistance. If we release our resistance, we naturally feel better.

Complications

But be mindful of complications. On an issue like insecurity we can get caught up thinking we need to justify ourselves; the process of shifting our thoughts can inadvertently become an “effort” that seeks to earn our security.

That’s how people get stuck in these and other teachings, as processes designed to help us feel better become burdens that reinforce a sense of unworthiness and struggle.

So don’t do that.

It shouldn’t be a struggle, and it should feel less bad immediately.

Let’s do it right now

My Achilles’ heel is in searching for deeper wisdom and spiritual insight to give me more value and control over my life. So with that in mind, I need to be mindful of when the processes are helping me feel better and when they’re just feeding this action pathway.

The proof is in how it feels: it should feel immediately better.

So if I persist with method 3 and look for my reason or purpose for existing, it should be an affirming and positive reason, not a bleak or unfeeling one.

In fact that’s probably why I feel insecure: I’ve accepted already that my reason for existing has nothing to do with happiness or meaning or fulfilment. I’ve taken it a priori as an impartial and detached universe.

The answer is therefore to feel better about my reason for existing, and to acknowledge that my reason for existing must be one that feels good.

After all, there are any number of possible reasons for existence that we can choose from. My old belief that existence (and God) was detached and remote and cold probably just suited how I felt generally back then.

So in conclusion, I feel insecure at times because I’ve believed my existence has no real reason, purpose, or justification beyond what I myself can scrape together.

It’s an old belief from when my whole worldview was more bleak and depressing. But I can see it now with the perspective of recent years and a commitment to happiness.

I think my purpose for existing is to enjoy my life in the unique circumstances and experiences of my individual being. That means happiness is the point of my life, and, like every other being in creation, I don’t need any further justification beyond the fact of my existence right here and now.

Feel good all day 5

Caught up with an old friend and her daughter yesterday 👋 and we ended up talking about my work on feeling good.

Or you could say I actively took the conversation in that direction 😁

They are an amazing and interesting family and always inspiring to catch up on their adventures and stories.

And the conversation brought me some really good contrast because I found myself struggling to explain and justify the success of my focus on feeling good.

You don’t need to justify happiness

I couldn’t think of any concrete examples of how circumstances had changed for me, but what’s more significant is that I immediately tried to prove or impress the magnitude of the change in how I feel.

At the same time I didn’t want to amplify and retell an old story about feeling bad all the time. And that’s a good thing. If you’ve suddenly achieved health and vitality you don’t want to go around telling everyone how sick you used to be!

Happiness speaks for itself

Happiness doesn’t need a justification or a rags-to-riches story. Let happiness speak for itself. Let feeling good be it’s own justification.

I feel good almost all the time now, and I’m gently steering that into being all the time.

Feeling a need to “sell” that to people is just an old bit of resistance about the value of feeling good in the first place.

introverted Feeling

Introverted Feeling is a really weird function.

It’s the dominant function of INFP and ISFP; it’s also the auxiliary function of ENFP and ESFP.

I’ve read and listened to lots of descriptions of introverted Feeling (Fi), but hardly any of them feel right to me.

To me, Fi is like an inner landscape of a strange world with diverse terrain. The things that happen in the real world are mirrored in this inner landscape.

So when something happens that you don’t like, it feels as if the inner landscape has become a kind of dark, arid, and rocky mountainside where you’re struggling to find your footing.

When something arduous and oppressive happens, it feels like you’re mired in a horrible swamp, up to your waist in thick mud.

When something unexpected and wonderful happens, it feels like you’re suddenly in a beautiful mountain valley on a warm spring day.

These changes in feeling can be rapid and intense, and they can occur without you even leaving your room.

In an ideal world, a healthy Fi dominant person would use this inner landscape to navigate the real world. We would make choices and seek out directions that take us to good-feeling places in our inner landscape, and avoid actions and circumstances that take us to bad-feeling places.

But as mentioned in my previous post, Fi is extremely hard to describe, especially when we’re young.

We all assume from a young age that everyone else is like us on the inside. So when people act in ways that make us feel really bad, we assume that they also feel bad, but that somehow feeling bad doesn’t matter.

At other times we are explicitly pressured to act according to external parameters that conflict with our Fi, and we are also pressured to provide non-Fi justifications or explanations for our own choices and actions.

Not only do we get cajoled into situations that feel bad, but being forced to justify and explain ourselves also feels bad, as it denies the integrity and authenticity of our introverted Feeling.

Someone calls you and says “Can you please do this for me?”…and your Fi presents you with an endless, stagnant swamp you’re being asked to cross.

But what do you say?

You can say “No”, or “I don’t want to.” But some people won’t be satisfied with that.

Can you say “Doing that for you would feel like being plunged into a foul and interminable swamp”?

I don’t think that would go over too well.

But “I don’t feel like it” sounds capricious and flippant.

So what do you do?

You look for “reasons” or excuses that explain and justify your refusal.

“I’m busy that day”, “I have things to do”, “I’m overloaded at the moment.”

It’s not that these things aren’t true, just that it’s not how your mind works.

You haven’t sat back and thought “Can I help them? No, I can’t because I have too much to do already”.

So you end up having to translate your Fi into a reason that is completely un-Filike.

Over time you develop the unpleasant feeling of being a foreigner in your own country, translating your inner world into something that others deem acceptable.

The good news

Ah, but there is some good news.

The good news is that once you understand your Fi, and the lesser functions that are undermining or inhibiting it, the path to feeling good again is relatively simple.

I’ve discovered that so long as I recognise the interference of Si (intrusive memories, adherence to customs, past experience, old habits and sensory immersion), and the interference of Te (the demand for outcomes, explanations, efficiency, and step-by-step planning), it’s possible for me to take whatever I’m currently feeling and simply change it.

I might be presently mired in a swamp or stuck on that barren, rocky slope, but if I remove the hindrances I can fly in an instant to an idyllic forest, or a sublime mountain peak.

I can go somewhere magical in that inner landscape. I can let my feeling be the substance of my conscious experience, rather than some unhappy by-product of external forces and conditions.

I can – as terrifying and counter-intuitive as it might sound – let my Fi be the guide to my choices and direction in life.

And in that capacity, it really does feel like something miraculous. It really does feel as though “feeling good” has the power to substantively change my experience of life.