Assuming Feelings are Fact
Assuming That Feelings Are Fact is a filter that uses emotional reasoning to determine what is true. If you feel something, it must be true. You give your feelings some infallible authority in determining what is real and true. The truth is that feelings are neither true nor false; they are just real sensations of emotion. They are the result of your perceptual filters. If your perceptual filters are accurate, the feelings that come from them will be accurate too. If your perceptual filters are faulty, the feelings that come from your filters will be distorted too.
Imagine what impact your alcohol and drug use has had on your perceptual filters. Alcohol is a depressant which impacts depending on dose. At mild levels, alcohol filters your experience as more relaxed and confident. At a higher level, alcohol can trigger a variety of strong emotional reactions: anger, resentment, maudlin, “best friends” sloppy drunk reactions, etc. The feelings that come up while you are drinking and using drugs are not an accurate reflection of your feelings, but rather perceptual filters created by chemicals. The old saying: “What you say when you are drunk is what you really feel” is an absolute lie!
Do you have a tendency to react to your feelings as if they were true facts? Begin to explore the perceptual filters that are creating your feelings. Challenge those filters that are currently distorted, and replace them with healthy accurate ones. As you practice experiencing your new filters, they will become more natural. Remember practice, practice, and more practice!
You may be someone who has gone to the other extreme of believing that feelings have no place in making decisions, and that feelings should be blunted out as much as possible. From the time I was 14 until I began my recovery at 29, I lived my life as a Vulcan, like Mr. Spock on Star Trek. I gave up feelings and tried to live a life of logic and rational reasoning. The problem with this decision is that intimacy requires feelings to grow and flourish.
This Vulcan style was very hard on my marriage. When Sonia and I had only been married a few months, she was expressing some strong feelings about something important to her, and I responded that I would “talk to her when she was rational!”
Some time later, when I was having a rare moment of emotional outburst, she turned to me and said “I’ll talk to you when you are rational” and I suddenly experienced what she must have felt so many times. I looked deeply into her eyes, as tears were forming in mine, and told her how sorry I was for having said that to her all those times before. I have never said that to her in the 35 years of marriage since then.
If you have learned to survive by burying your feelings and worshiping logic, you can start by feeling good about noticing this toxic pattern, as the first step in change. Realize that this emotional disconnection has a key role in your drug and alcohol abuse.
Notice your resistance to the idea of shifting to a more balanced respect of feelings and logic, as a dynamic duo to help you determine truth. Respectfully connecting with your resistance can help you make contact with the wounded part/parts of you.
These wounded parts are often afraid to open the feeling dimension for fear of being overwhelmed with blocked feelings from the past. You can learn to support these wounded parts as they respectfully learn to deal with their blocked feelings with your help and supervision. We will explore the Adult Child Character in the next chapter. Jot down in your journal what you notice.