How to handle big feelings from an Intimacy Therapist - Tea & Tonic Matakana

How to handle big feelings from an Intimacy Therapist

Feelings are like the ocean... vast, deep and ever-changing.

They're how we interpret the world and all its beauty and challenges. They keep things flowing in our external world but can feel like a storm within. Learning to identify where our big feelings come from can help us move through them with more ease and grace as we are able to see where they come from. 

We have six core feelings: anger, sadness, surprise, joy, love and fear. We then have secondary feelings such as despair, confusion, cheerfulness, nervousness and affectionate (to name a few). The outer side of things are the third feelings such as jealousy, hurt, grief, satisfied, excited and caring. When we learn to identify the outer feelings and move through the spectrum, we can place them into the fitting 'core feeling'. This helps us make better sense of what we are feeling, and from there, we can identify what the trigger is. 

Let's say I was feeling inferior in my relationship. I could ask myself, "ok, so why do I feel that way?". Maybe it comes up that I feel inferior because my partner is more extroverted than I am. Knowing this, I see that I could place that feeling of inferiority and see that it stems from the feeling of insecurity in how I view my social skills. Even examining our thoughts can help this process. For example, the thought that precedes these feelings might be, "what if I come across as shy? Should I be more friendly? Do they like him more than me because he is more outgoing?". From that, I can see that the feeling of inferiority stems from insecurity which fits into the core feeling of fear because I am afraid of not being liked, and that is the trigger.  

Through walking through my feelings from inferiority through insecurity and arriving at fear, I can see the pattern of my thinking and that I am actually projecting my own fears onto how I view my partner and our dynamic when really it has nothing to do with him. This would allow me to begin the process of letting go of that initial feeling of inferiority in my relationship, and instead focussing on working on my own insecurities and fears of not being liked. 

When we see the core emotion of a feeling and the pattern that arises from it, we are better equipped to see the actual trigger that causes the feelings therefore helping us healthily navigate these big emotions. It is astounding how much there is to uncover from one tricky feeling, and I encourage you to dig deep. Most of the time it has nothing to do with the presenting feeling and everything to do with what is underneath. 

You can find out more by searching up the emotion and feeling wheel and see the patterns of your own psyche. 

Stephanie Grant
Intimacy Therapist

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