Identifying and Addressing Feelings with Dr. Deborah Sandella

Check out this conversation with Dr. Deborah Sandella, author of Goodbye, Hurt & Pain,  about identifying and addressing feelings.

You say you don’t need to “talk about your feelings.” Isn’t this the way most people deal with feelings? How can this be?

Talking about our feelings has been the primary way of dealing with feelings in the past. However, neuroscience has revealed more recently that feelings are a body experience rather than a thinking process. In other words, the body speaks to us through the direct experience of senses, imagery and symbolism instead of Left Brain logical, verbal communication. Although talking about our feelings can connect us with others, it does not release intense emotion stuck in the body; thus, feelings linger out of sight and sabotage our success without us realizing it.

If we don’t need to talk about our feelings, what do we do with them?

Feelings have a natural shelf life when we allow them to flow, much like the water in a river. Feelings occur spontaneously and have a natural momentum, which when allowed, gives us important self-direction before they expire. The problem occurs when we try to stop unpleasant feelings by ignoring, resisting and burying them. It’s like creating a dam in the river, which causes these emotions we want gone to eddy in our bodies indefinitely. The secret is to create floodgates that allow the release of feelings in a safe way without the risk of flooding.

What does it mean when you say feelings have form?

Because feelings are invisible they seem overwhelming—they have no boundaries. Imagination however can translate feelings into form. When “anger” is sensed as a small, red ball of hot energy, the Left Brain becomes engaged in managing and measuring the “anger.” Now the logical Left Brain and emotional Right Brain become partners to solve a problem. It works quite easily and quickly.

What’s a simple thing we can do when we are stuck in a negative feeling?

I call it the “Pouring Feelings From the Pitcher” technique. Write on paper whatever comes into your mind so you are able to fully express yourself without fear of hurting another or having them retaliate. Keep writing until you feel something inside you shift. Our feelings are not us, they are transient states passing through us. When we allow them to flow in a safe way, we gain clarity about an issue and our choices.

What would you say is the most important thing we can teach our children about feelings?

Feelings are natural, spontaneous aspects of our inner radar. They aren’t good or bad; rather, they are constant feedback from our inner emotional operating system. Receiving and recognizing our emotions is a great gift that helps us gain insight and a sense of wise direction even when our feelings are uncomfortable like anger and jealousy. Rather than assume they are true or false, it’s most beneficial to perceive feelings as constant input. Some are accurate and some are distorted. Investigating what’s true and what can be learned about ourselves results in wisdom and self-trust.
Teaching children how to identify their feelings without judging them will help them be emotionally healthy and self-motivated. Letting go of our criticism of undesirable feelings is important for our natural emotional operating system to function adequately. When parents try to guilt their child out of ugly feelings, they give the message that the child can’t trust their inner radar. Feelings engage a process not a conclusion.

Dr. Deborah Sandella has been helping thousands of people find themselves for 40 years as an award-winning psychotherapist, university professor, and originator of the groundbreaking RIM Method. She has been acknowledged with numerous professional awards including Outstanding Clinical Specialist, Research Excellence, and an EVVY Best Personal Growth Book Award. She is the co-author with Jack Canfield of Awakening Power.


Read the News Late

by Rick Hamlin

Fear sells.

It’s worth remembering when you pick up the newspaper and gaze at the headlines or scroll down an article on a news site or hear the drumbeat of the upcoming news story on TV.  It always sounds terrible and they want you to know it’s terrible.  A tremor goes through you.  You know for sure that the world is gone to hell in a hand-basket.  You thought only minutes before how could things get any worse and now here’s a story to let you know.  Things ARE worse.

Whoever wrote that piece or produced that segment or came up with one of those headlines knew just what they were doing.  They wanted you to be upset.  They hoped you’d be outraged.  They wanted you to tremble.

They hooked you with fear.  Let’s face it.  If it didn’t hit your gut, if it didn’t disturb you, if it didn’t make you want to go bury some cash under a mattress for that rainy day that was much closer than you thought, that tempest, then why would you read on or listen for more?  You want to do the right thing and be informed and if the government is going to fold on Monday or the stock market is going to crash again on Tuesday or the war is going to start on Friday, you need to know.

Read the News LateBut what are you going to do about the war or the government or the stock market for that matter?

I suppose you could write a letter to your Congressman and sell off what little stock you had, but then what are you going to do?  Buy Treasury bills that are backed by a government that is supposedly failing?  Put more cash under the mattress that would supposedly be worthless in a few years because of rampant inflation?

The options are few.  And you have just successfully wasted a few pleasant hours by being truly riled up.  It’s worth considering that somebody got you afraid for their own personal benefit, not really for yours.  It’s like a kid sticking out a foot at a playground and tripping you.  “Got you,” they should say.  Unless you refuse to fall for it.  Again.

I’m a sucker for the news.  I like to be informed.  But I’ve grown wary and weary of the story tellers trying to manipulate me.  I forgive them for doing it because they’re just doing their jobs.  They need as many eyeballs as they can find to stay in business.  I’m glad for them to stay in business because they help me keep informed.  But I’ve given up the fear as much as possible.

The angels of the Lord made it their greeting, “Be not afraid.”  I try to pay attention to the angels of my own best nature.  And I try to choose the times of day when I give the fear mongers my eyeballs.  Not too much in the morning.  I could end up wasting my day.  Better late in the day.

Why buy fear wholesale?  I’d rather spend my emotional capital elsewhere.

Rick Hamlin is the executive editor of Guideposts magazine, where he has worked for more than 25 years. His spiritual memoir, Finding God on the A Train, was a Book of the Month Club alternate selection and a selection of One Spirit Book Club. He lives with his family in New York City.