Changing Feelings with Awareness

Instead of looking at our actions, if we look at the feelings we have about our actions, we might be able to change our feelings more easily

Instead of looking at our actions, if we look at the feelings we have about our actions, we might be better able to change those feelings

Sometimes it seems like we can fret and worry as we try to be a certain kind of person. Maybe we want to be wise, or kind, or friendly, or calm. Maybe we want to be playful, or to feel like we always have something to give. But, when we are worried about these things, how can we get anywhere but to a state of being worried? Maybe we get angry, frustrated, restless, impatient, demanding, or fearful. Maybe we get upset at how we’re not where we want to be.

As you can maybe see, we can’t necessarily get to the feelings and states we prefer just by wanting to get there. This want can even take us further away! We can end up in a more negative state just from our desire to be in a positive one. It’s like the problem of being annoyed at being annoyed – it just doesn’t work like that, except maybe as a motivation to look into the issue, since it’s proving to be such an annoyance.

So if wanting a better inner state doesn’t work for feeling better, what does? I feel like what’s important is to attend to one’s actual state, and to remain aware of it, rather than to just the products of that state. If we are in a playful mood, we will be playful automatically, and it’ll be hard to stop. But if we’re annoyed at not being in a playful mood, then while we may be able to mimic playfulness, we might feel tortured, frustrated, and fearful while doing so, as we try to produce playfulness without having the feelings behind it. You can also think about it like this: if you were truly in a good mood, you’d have to stretch yourself to mimic a bad mood. In a bad mood, the opposite is true. So, one can ask one’s self: “where am I really at?”

The process of trial-and-error, which can be used to learn and better succeed at anything, relies on feedback. Really, it could be called the “trial-and-feedback” loop, where sometimes the feedback can contain error. If the feedback you’re looking at is only the outer-level products, such as if you’re acting playful, then you might struggle to maintain this, getting repeatedly worried when feelings aren’t there to back you up and naturally maintain your favored, playful ways. But, if you stay attentive to your real feelings, then you know when your mood takes a dip, and you can engage with those real feelings there as feedback you’re receiving about your state. And through that, feelings can improve, as you sense what improves your mood versus what worsens it.

The main point is this: while behavior can be artificially maintained despite feelings, the same doesn’t seem to be the case for the genuine underlying feelings that are a part of us. If we feel good, it’s probably going to be a lot easier to create situations and choose actions we feel good about, than if we were to worry and plan, and to try and create, from our minds, good choices and behavior. And by looking at one’s underlying feelings, rather than merely in actions and situations that appear on the surface, one might be better able to work with one’s feelings to get to those preferred states of being.

There are a number of resources on this site aimed to help with connecting with one’s feelings through awareness, such as those at Exploring your Inner World. But ultimately, our awareness, in connection to our own felt reality, seems to be something we can actively engage with, ourselves, at any moment, and from moment-to-moment.

That said, I wish you well, whatever place you happen to be internally. No matter how bad things may get, I encourage you to keep looking for a positive direction, even if that may mean learning something new, or working through conflicts within yourself. Whatever you may find, good luck with it, and take care.

Related Articles

Impatience – We can often get impatient with our state and actions not being where we want them to be, leading us to a state of impatience rather than the one we’d like to be at. This article may offer some perspective that could help with responding to impatience.

How to Stay in the Flow – this article touches on a subject that may help one to better stay in moment-to-moment awareness, or in other words, closer to one’s feelings as they flow in unexpected ways. That flow can help one to receive feedback from feelings, and thus to help maintain good feelings and to work through the more problematic ones.

Leave a Reply