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How to Deal with Mixed Feelings

Updated on June 13, 2012

He knew about math, but not about living life.

Rene Descartes placed an emphasis on thinking over feeling. Living life focused on thinking over feeling leads to missing out on many things.
Rene Descartes placed an emphasis on thinking over feeling. Living life focused on thinking over feeling leads to missing out on many things.

How I deal with mixed feelings

You may ask whether a person can have mixed feelings in response to things. The simple answer to that question is a resounding yes. Having mixed feelings does not mean that you are crazy, unstable, or indecisive. Those labels are often given to you when you have mixed feelings and dare to express it to others. Mixed feelings present problems for many people.

First, when you admit that you are having feelings, the admission of that forces your listeners to face their feelings. When you are sad about a recent loss and admit it, your admission forces those around you to deal with their losses and feelings about that as well. Since feelings are not easily turned on and off, they are not easy to control. There are many people, especially among men, who are intimidated when they are faced with having to deal with feelings. For this reason, many people prefer to treat feelings like they do facts. They want something to either fit in the true box or the false box. There are no other feelings. You are either feeling the right thing or the wrong thing. That may sound like a wonderful idea to some, yet it is totally alien to feelings. Feelings can not be put into categories and boxes like that.

Secondly, many of you are out of touch with your feelings. When people are out of touch with their feelings, they are cut off from valuable information about what is going on around them. You have feelings in your heart and in your gut. In addition to feelings, there are also various bodily sensations that also provide information to help you connect with your feelings. There are many reasons that you may have shut off the awareness of feelings that you are experiencing. Whether or not you are aware of what you feel, it does not change the feelings. You may be ignoring or blocking them out, but that does not eliminate them. I have found that the more I tune into to what I am feeling, I feel more alive. I feel more aware of what is going on around me as well.

It takes time and practice to tune into your feelings. I developed greater awareness by asking myself how I really felt about things. For example, when I felt attracted to a painting, I asked, what do I like about it? What feelings do I have in reaction to it? What triggers those feelings? The more I dared to ask such questions, the more aware I became of my feelings. Those gut reactions have not led me astray when faced with new situations. Had I listened to those feelings earlier, it would have saved me many struggles and grievous pain.

I have found that feelings, like colors and flavors add more sensations to the experiences of my life. Denying feelings is like going through life with a black and white television view of the world. You still see what is going on, yet you miss out on many potentials great experiences. When painful feelings are triggered, it does become more intense. When you live life in full color and full experience, everything comes across much stronger. Although the painful feelings are more hurtful, they do not last as long as they did before I was tuned into things. With greater awareness, I also am aware of more potential responses to the feelings as well.

Since feelings are feelings, I recognize they are not facts. I may have bad hair day feeling, but it does not mean that I will have a bad day. Learning the difference between facts and feelings helps keep this clear. What the facts are and what I feel are two separate things. I may feel ‘bad’ about something, but that does not mean that there is anything bad or wrong about what I did.

When I hear people say to me “I think I feel…” I know right away they have the wiring for their factual part of their brain confused with their feelings. Those two areas are wired very differently. Facts operate on an analogue system, while feelings are more akin to a graduated system. It is like the difference between a light switch and a dimmer. Although they both turn things on, the ways they do it is totally different.

Confusing facts and feelings leads to errors like categorizing some feelings as ‘good’ and others as ‘bad’. Feelings are amoral. You feel what you feel. Trying to put morals on feelings is an exercise in futility. Actions can be moral choices, but not feelings. How you act on the feeling may be good or bad, right or wrong, but not the feeling itself. There have been some people like the philosopher Rene Decartes who lived their whole lives with their thinking brain at the expense of their feelings. ( He is the one who coined the phrase “I think, therefore, I am”). It can be done, yet at quite a cost. I prefer a life where “I think and feel, therefore, I am alive”.


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