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­Feelings: Don’t ignore yours

In writing about feelings, E.G. Wishart says, “If we want to be loved, we must reveal ourselves. If we want to love someone, they must allow us to know them.”

This profound thought strikes fear in the hearts of people who have been conditioned to believe they are unworthy, who have been battered to understand they are undeserving of acceptance and love. Society has deemed them to be what they are and there is no changing that status. (Sounds like a sort of caste system, doesn’t it?)

Wishart notes that we go through life concealing who we really are and pretend to be what we believe society expects from us.

“Even with those people we care most about we share little of our true feelings, beliefs, or needs,” Wishart writes. “Perhaps because we want so much to be loved we fear the truth that may come with openness and consequently, we present ourselves as the sort of person we believe would be accepted and loved, and we attempt to hide the things we think would damage that image.”

The key, he advises is “appropriateness,” private when we choose and to be able to be open and honest without fear of any repercussions.

When you were growing up did your mother advise you to consider your consequences before you took your actions, to make sure the consequences were things you would be willing and able to live with? Did you learn about trust and/or distrust?

Feelings. The discussion is about feelings and what we have been taught by society, by our families and by our own perceptions. While this particular referenced article goes into the problem of alcoholism, the lessons are valuable to everyone, if you think about it.

“Feelings are facts.” They aren’t good or bad. They just are. We “feel” and then we react to our perceptions of those feelings, right?

“Until we know our feelings, we don’t know each other. If we don’t know each other, we fear and mistrust each other. We don’t know what to expect, so we remain constantly on guard, defensive, and distant,” Wishart writes. We end up “in conflict between our values and our behavior,” damaging personal character, developing hardened attitudes, and becoming angry people. Anger, fear and affection “are … the hardest feelings for us to identify and share.”

How well do you know your Self? Your life partner? How close are you to the people in your life? How well do the people in your life know you? Why? Do you know the names of your neighbors? Or do people move into the neighborhood and move out and you never even knew their names? Why? Are you a member of some club, organization, community service group where new members come and go but you don’t understand why they don’t stay? How do they feel? Are you empathetic enough even to think of the way others feel?

Does denial hold you back? Denial can be a positive thing but when it is used too much it does become problematic. When is it time to stop and look at your situation, your feelings, and deal with the realities you struggle so hard to avoid? Why is it so hard to say what we really feel? Why can’t we recognize and share our feelings?

“Mom” always said, “Just be yourself. You are beautiful just the way you are.” Those words may have been a little hard to believe if you thought you were the ugliest girl (or boy) who was ever born, but you may have finally realized that she was right.

“Fear is the antithesis of faith,” writes Priscilla Shirer in her book, Fervent. “And faith is what allows you to step foot on the soil of your destiny.”

Addiction has no address, but Family Recovery Center does. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. Visit the web site at www.familyrecovery.org.

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