1. What is your book about?
“Why Do I Feel This Way?” What Your Feelings Are Trying To Tell You is all about the what, why and a little how of our feelings, emotions, memories and other responses to life’s experiences. Using my own, personal stories of a 10-year journey that life threw me into when my husband died of HIV disease, I write of what I learned about living with my own feelings of fear, love, happiness, anger, guilt, confusion and the rest of the gamut of feelings we all face countless times each day. I explain how I gradually found ways to use my brain to help me live my life deliberately—the way I want it to go—rather than as a victim of my own experiences.
I have been so impressed by what I’ve learned about what we humans have most in common—how our brains process feelings and emotions, memories and more—that I, a nonscientist, want to write for other nonscientists, to share the wealth of information that’s out there now. The book also has “unscientific experiments” I invented to enable everyone to figure out what their own feelings are trying to tell them and how they can use that information in their own lives.
2. How do we balance expressing our feelings without getting overwhelmed with them?
We can only benefit from understanding that feelings are part of our biology. They’ve evolved to meet the growing demands of our increasingly complex lives, and they’ve been evolving over eons of time. This information changes forever the way we know ourselves as human beings.
Feelings have a purpose: nature put them there in our brains to help us thrive, so we can live our lives well, happily and joyfully, using all our feelings and emotions. They tell us we have the courage—and the reason—to express them, and to keep them in perspective without any need to be overwhelmed by them. We just didn’t know that.
Ultimately, what our feelings are trying to tell us is that we’re having reactions and responses to our life experiences. Once we can acknowledge—without fear—what our feelings are, we can trust that we are meant to decide how we want to act—or not—on each feeling, one at a time.
3. How can we express anger in a healthy way when we are mad at other people without hurting ourselves or the people we love?
Anger is one of our oldest emotions, built into us by nature to help us respond to situations that trigger those feelings in us. We can learn to take the time to acknowledge we’re feeling angry and, in those moments of acknowledging, we can use our brain’s extraordinary capabilities to think and decide, to choose who we want to be, who we are, free of all the negative burdens we impose on ourselves.
Our brains have amazing tools to help us do all these things. They do many things automatically, without our even having to think about them. We get hungry so we eat; we’re tired so we fall asleep. We get angry, and when we think about it, we can learn to use anger in our own best interests rather than as a weapon against ourselves.
4. How do we deal with difficult feelings that originate in our unconscious or stem from past trauma?
Almost everyone can benefit from some kind of professional therapeutic relationship at different times in their lives, especially in situations involving past trauma. Fortunately, we live in a time when therapies exist in many guises for different situations and what once was a stigma is no longer an impediment.
That said, this book is not intended to replace professional counseling. Rather, its intention is to offer nonscientists an opportunity to understand what is happening when feelings and emotions are occurring in our brains. Once we understand, we can better draw from the tremendous capability of our brains to hold and make available information we need to know as we make choices and decisions in our own best interests on a daily basis.
Feelings, even—and perhaps mostly—sad or so-called “bad” ones—are merely telling us we are reacting, or responding, to something going on in that moment in our lives. Only we can feel our feelings; no one else can feel exactly what we do, even though we all use the same language to describe what we feel. It’s important to know that our feelings are not making us sad; they’re merely telling us that sadness is present in our minds.
The more we get to know ourselves, the more readily we can see that we have all the choices we can imagine for deciding what to do with our feelings. Things like imagination and memories are tools that we can utilize as we make our choices and decisions about each feeling we have.
Whatever action we do, or do not, decide to take on our feelings begins with allowing ourselves just to feel as we do, to acknowledge that we feel that way. Sometimes, old “other” feelings about ourselves get in the way of the new feelings, and thoughts—of judgment about ourselves, of old memories that have caused us to mistrust ourselves, for two examples–seem to stop us from acting.
Every single person is a unique miracle, bodies and brains working together in perfect harmony to keep us alive, and well, every minute of every day. The more we understand about how our brains work—and how the role of our feelings is a primary feature of being human—the more readily we can see how powerful we are. We can live our lives deliberately, the way we want them to go, truly in our own best interests.
6. Where can we get a copy of your book?
“Why Do I Feel This Way?” What Your Feelings Are Trying To Tell You, can be ordered easily through my website: www.whydoifeel.com where you can get it from either Amazon or Barnes & Noble as a paperback or ebook.