A Thousand Feelings a Day
As a therapist, I sometimes find a new phrase to describe some concept of psychology creeping into my vocabulary. My latest is that we have “a thousand feelings a day.” This first came up when I was working with a client on the concept of boundaries in relationship, especially the idea that we can’t protect a loved one from having feelings. I basically said, “Your partner is already having a thousand feelings a day. Why are you working so hard to prevent them from having one more?”
There’s a natural tendency in relationships to care about the feelings of another. And that’s very much a good thing. We should definitely strive to treat our loved ones with kindness, respect and a consideration for their feelings and issues. The problem arises when we start turning ourselves into a pretzel in response to that caring. The classic example for this is when someone avoids telling a partner that they want something different in the relationship, but they don’t say it because they don’t want their partner to feel guilty, uncomfortable, pressured, not good enough, etc. Let’s say someone wants something different sexually. If they carry on wanting it and not saying anything about that for fear of how it will make their partner feel, little by little, resentment creeps in. So does a sense of inauthenticity. If we’re hiding what we want sexually from our partner, we’re not being fully present during sex. And that leads to a lack of connection. And all because we’re trying to prevent our partner from having a feeling, a feeling he or she has probably already had a million times.
I also think this concept applies to how we turn ourselves inside out to avoid having certain feelings ourselves. This is, to some degree, what’s behind addictions and other self destructive behavior. Human beings will go to extreme lengths to avoid certain feelings, and yet those very same feelings exist and come up all the time anyway, no matter what we do. It is, essentially, an illusion that we can prevent feelings because we really do have a thousand feelings a day, and probably more, given how many we have at any given moment. We are feeling creatures, and it’s the work of a lifetime to get comfortable with and to learn how to accept, work with and manage those feelings. Try starting with my new mantra – “I already have a thousand feelings a day. I can handle one more."