REMINDER: See ACRONYM page for abbrev.
2. ‘FACTS’: The other problem with this platitude is that these 2 words don’t really belong together (feelings & facts). Consider T.E.A.:
a. Actions – only these are facts, quantifiable, with measurable results.
b. Emotions are never ‘facts’ – they are internal experiences. Yes, it’s a fact that we have emotions. Even Vulcans have those pesky things, underneath. For humans, to be cut off from our emotions turns us into narcissists or worse – sociopaths!
• Eventually someone in Al-Anon added what they thought was a clarification: “Feelings aren’t facts, but it’s a fact that I’m having these feelings”. OK – this does refer to Emotions. This was encouraging for many of us to hear, because as CoAs we were taught to repress some or all our emotions – to deny them as irrelevant or unacceptable. So this version gave permission to FEEL emotions. But this is not what the phrase actually means.
c. Thoughts are not technically facts either, but experiences – healthy or unhealthy. Thoughts are:
• the cause of actions, good or bad, depending on the type of thoughts (may not be conscious, but are the reason for our behavior), AND
• the source of emotions (in the present): enjoyment, pleasure, relief, comfort … OR great suffering, caused by distorted or cruel thoughts, rigid beliefs, toxic rules, scary projections, unfounded assumptions … which lead to painful emotions for ourselves & often to destructive actions towards others!
➼ NOTE: Watch out for people who ONLY talk about what they or other people are doing, where they’ve been, who they know, what they’ve accomplished…. Facts, facts, facts! That tells us they are NOT in touch with their emotions, which makes them unsafe in relationships, for anything other than giving information – if that!
CONCLUSION: In the light of these distinctions, what does the phrase “Feelings are facts” really mean? ANS: it only refers to Thoughts, but not just any kind. It’s not about accurate, realistic, ‘normal‘ thinking, but only about OBSESSION !! And what most ACoAs obsess about endlessly is always related to abandonment:
✦ EITHER our Self-Hate
”I don’t know why he won’t talk to me – why is he ignoring me – was it something I said? Or maybe I should have been nice to him. I probably sat in the wrong chair… I know he doesn’t like me… what can I do to change his mind… “ – bla, bla, bla….
✦ OR Rageful thoughts towards others
“How dare she talk to me like that… Why didn’t he call me….I never did anything to her… I’m going to give her a piece of my mind… I hate her, she’s a witch…. no I’d better not… what should I say… I don’t want to get fired…” etc, etc
BTW – We even have these obsessive inner rants about people we’ve never actually talked to – or about someone we know, but who didn’t do or be something we thought they should…. Of course, obsessional thinking is not accurate or mature. It is rooted in childhood abandonment fear, self-hate, & learned patters of communicating from family, school & perhaps ‘church’.
HEALTH : Being able to think clearly is imperative to function well in the world & in personal relationships. To do so we need accurate, reasonable & present-day info about how everything really works, what is positive about ourselves, what it means to be human & universal spiritual truths about Higher Power.
“Feelings aren’t facts” actually means: “Our negative, distorted thoughts, beliefs & obsessions are NOT telling us the truth.” Only when understood that way is it a correct statement.
To Review: All emotions are a source of basic & indispensable information: internally telling us about ourselves, & externally about what’s happening around us – what IS safe, compatible, helpful to us OR what is harmful, incompatible, inappropriate for us. We need our emotions – they are not our enemy!
✦ Emotions themselves are never ‘negative’. It’s important to NOT use this term about Es, because it implies that they’re bad, and when something’s bad, we assume it should be gotten rid of. So we’re taught to suppress & be ashamed of many Es which are perfectly normal. What is needed is to change our harmful thoughts & actions.
✦ Many wounded people live in emotional extremes, fueled by self-hate & rageful thinking, say – in a range of -20 ——————–0———————- +20. They live from drama to drama – internally & externally, created by fearful THOUGHTS.
The emotional pain behind the drama is real, based on years of childhood distress. This pain needs to be let out in safe ways, which allows us to settle into more ‘even’ emotional responses. Then we can make better & better choices for ourselves and in relation to others – which is what they were meant for in the first place!
✦ Healthy Emotions are NOT good or bad, but rather range from the very painful <———–0————> to the very joyful. The ‘0’ stands for neutral. We need to aim for living within a range of +5 to -5 on either side of center, most of the time, although not exclusively. This can only happen when healing diminishes our accumulated anxiety so we don’t have to alternate between the ‘outer limits’ of misery or fantasy/illusion!
NEXT: Getting to Our EMOTIONS – Under