think or feel
I’m confused! What are you talking about?

PREVIOUS: Recovery Thoughts


This is a familiar phrase used in 12-Step Programs, but not exclusive to them. It contains an intrinsic truth and an intrinsic lie.  We have to examine both words – ‘feelings’ and ‘facts’ – to understand.

• In our language, the word feelings is used in almost every context to mean either thoughts, emotions or sensations, without distinction.
• The main problem is that most of the time people use ‘Feel’ to mean Thoughts, not emotions. This causes confusion for both speaker & listener.

• This triple usage may be a clever ploy in our culture – likely confusedunconscious – to suppress Emotions! We’re taught to live in our head & only focus on actions (“Just do it”), which we gladly embrace as a defense against facing our deepest pain.
So, along with many other sources (family, media, male culture, war, sport…) our language encourages being cut off from an essential part of ourself

b. CLARITY:  We’re not going to change the vocabulary, but we can understand the 3 uses of the word FEEL, so we can use it correctly.
i. Sensations – ‘Feel’ is actually an experience word (Physical) : I feel hungry, tired, thirsty, sexual…

ii. Emotions: If ‘feel’ is meant to indicate Emotions – then what follows can only be single words : “I feel…… sad, glad,
mad, anxious, pleased…..”.. AND we can have more than one E at the same time, even contradictory one.
“I’m happy to see you, but disappointed that Ted’s not here too.” (Posts: Use THINK, not feel)

iii. Thoughts:
 The word “Feel” should never be used to mean Thoughts / Opinions / Beliefs.  Thoughts are always a sentence, always more than one word. 
When “Feel” is misused, it usually leads with ‘that‘ or ‘like’:
•  “I feel like he wants to talk about something”
•  “It feels like you’re not supporting me”
• “I feel that we should leave soon”
• “I don’t feel that we’re communicating”
•  “I feel like going to the movies”

Stated as such, none of these are about emotions, only ideas – even though emotions are implied but not acknowledged. It’s subtle & at best unintentionally, at worst it’s manipulative & dishonest

c. INDIRECTness : Another mix-up occurs when thoughts are expressed in a round-about way. Such statements are clearly sentences, but couched in terms of feeling, which makes the speaker sound unsure of themself. They’re not actually expressing confusion, but rather insecurity by asking for permission to have a voice.

ACoAs are ‘notorious’ for talking around an important point, leaving out important info, adding too many qualifiers, justifications & apologies! This misuse comes from not being allowed to own our personal power.
We say:
• “ I hope you don’t mind if I tell you…”
instead of
  “I’d like to tell you something / I need to talk to you about___”

• “Is it alright if I___ , Will you be upset if___ , I hope you don’t mind that I…”
instead of (with a smile, perhaps) “I won’t be able to____ , I need to____ , I’d like to___ , I’m not available for___”

• “I feel like I’m doing better”  instead of “I’m doing better”
• “I feel like I can’t trust them”  instead of “I know they’re not trustworthy”

☑️ Unfortunately, for many ACoAs, being direct is not just considered impolite but actually aggressive! which it is not IF statement are made without anger.
Sadly women are more likely to be indirect as a way to not be pushy, which makes staying connected easier, but at a price. (BOOK : “He & She” by Chris Evatt)

YES, there is a time & place for careful wording, being respectful of others’ time & space, or for apologizing.
HOWEVER, the above examples of waffling have to do with ACoA shame, S-H, fear of being seen, of punishment or being cut off.

The BEST, clearest way to communicate combines emotions + thoughts in the same sentence : be clear
• “I’m scared you won’t stay with me”
• “I’m so happy that you got the promotion”
• “I feel sad that she’s ignoring me”
• “I’m afraid he may not like this gift”
• “I’m excited for you & curious about what you’re going to be doing”
• “I’m worried that you’re going there alone”
This of course implies that we know what we’re feeling (emotions) and have permissions to own & express them.
🔴 Practice verbalizing your thoughts & emotions using declarative sentences, so they come out of your mouth more easily. And repeat, daily: “I know what I know”!

NEXT: “Feelings aren’t facts”, Part 2

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