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Feelings are Facts

There is no such thing as a wrong feeling. Feelings are signals.

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Feelings are facts. They are neither right nor wrong. They just are. Like pain, feelings are signals that get our attention. Pain is a signal that something is wrong in the body and demands our attention. Pain is a tough warning signal to ignore. If you cut yourself, the pain you feel alerts you to attend to the site of the injury. It’s like the body screaming out loudly, “This is serious. Take care of it. Now!”

Imagine what life might be like if you were unable to experience pain. At first blush, it might seem to be a good thing. After all, why go through life with headaches, toothaches, and backaches if you do not have to do so? Yet a life without pain could be a short one. Pain is adaptive, directing our attention to recognize and correct the underlying cause. Without pain as a warning signal, we might not pull our hand away from a hot object in time to prevent burns. In extremely rare cases, children are born without the capacity to experience pain. Sadly, these children repeatedly injure themselves, ramming their heads into walls, even mutilating themselves because they are incapable of experiencing pain, of knowing when to stop whatever they doing that causes injury.

Feelings are signals that tell us about our internal state of mind. Like feelings of pain, emotions should not be ignored. We should listen to them. Troubling emotions are signals that demand our attention, signposts for underlying concerns and issues we need to address. We can use these emotional signals in much the same way we use pain signals—to examine the source of the problem and take steps to correct it. There is no such thing as a wrong emotion. Negative feelings are calling cards for change.

(c) 2016 Jeffrey S. Nevid