Welcome to my Blog

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Should we Ignore Feelings?

This comment was left on another post and I would like to answer it here:

Dear A. B Curtiss,

I find your approach to depression very considering. I'm shaking if I order your books. I don't speak very well English, so it's a little bit difficult for me to understand a book in English. But I suffer so much, that I will give a try. I am uncertain if your method not thinking about depressive feelings is really the right one for me, because I made myself familiar with an other method -but also didn't practiced yet-, named Focusing, and Ann Weiser Cornell, a Focusing teacher (http://www.focusingresources.com/irf/how_this_works.htm) says the opposite than you say: we should a feeling give a space (also for negative feelings)because they have to tell us something and they have an evolution, and if we ignore a feeling and try to repress a bad feeling, it will come back and even stronger. If we get the same feelings over the years, that means this feeling have to say something about us, and we can transform the feeling in a better one by giving attention this feeling. A feeling is not a furniture that we can throw out. I think this opinion is different from yours about ignoring the feeling and think something else. Please give me some more explanations because I want to decide which way to follow, or how to reconcile the two methods.

Thanks M_________

Dear M________


What language do you speak? My Brainswitch out of Depression book has been translated in Estonia and Lithuania and is being translated in Russia and Japan.My Depression is a Choice book has been translated in Portugal.

Feelings are supposed to finish when you feel them, accept them, and then move on. There is also such a thing as honest mourning wherein you are suffering and honoring your losses. However mourning can degenerate into depression which is simply a chemical imbalance in your brain caused by anxious worry that triggers the flight or fight response and dumps stress chemicals in your brain.

Mostly people are not suffering from feelings so much as suffering from an excess of stress chemicals in their brain which are very hard on the metabolic processes of the body and cause a general feeling of unwellness and despair. Repressing feelings is not good. However there is a difference between accepting your feelings and then moving on to more productive activity, rather than wallowing in generalized anxious worry which causes the production of more and more stress chemicals in your brain.

Also most people have a great deal of difficulty in distinguishing between feelings and thinking. Generally speaking if there is more than two words you use after you think "I feel," it is a thought rather than a feeling. "I feel angry" is a feeling, "I feel you did something wrong" is a thought.

The trouble with wallowing in negative feelings is that you make them dominant in the brain. The brain always follows the direction of its most current dominant thought. You can think any thought you want, and it is your thoughts that determine your feelings. What is the value in thinking thoughts that produce negative feelings? Since you have a choice, why not think those thoughts that produce positive feelings?

When you understand how your brain works, you can get it to think and feel what you want rather than be forced to think and feel what the brain wants to think or feel. You are not your brain and your feelings are not sacred entities to be worshiped. Feelings are defense mechanisms to be understood and managed.

----- Original Message -----

No comments: