Your feelings are not valid and definitely not feedback. We don’t do things willy nilly around here. We have well-thought plans with hard evidence for everything we do, all waking hours of the day. We’re scientific now.
That little voice in the back of your mind telling you something just isn’t right? Mystical nonsense. Do you have proof that that dark alley has any criminals in it? Or that someone may be pressuring and manipulating you? Assume positive intent, love.
Your kids? Manipulative little monsters. Always whining, cunning, figuring out how to get nothing but attention. See that fake cry of theirs? Sociopaths, basically.
If you haven’t picked up what I am laying down, I am indeed laying the sarcasm on thick.
The worst part about this though is that I run the risk of not coming across as sarcastic. I had to make sure to add “(<sarcasm)” to the title of this. Because I fear if people read “Your Feelings Are Not Valid and Definitely Not Feedback,” people might read this as serious. Because it very much sounds like something someone in modern society would say.
We hear a lot now about feelings. And that’s a good thing. But it’s too generic. Type anything about feelings on social media and people are likely to make it go viral. And literally all you have to type is “Let’s Open and Talk About Things.” And that’s all that is said. I look at this and go….this just isn’t enough. Should be we be having weekly discussions with our husbands? Should we be having family meetings with our kids? Should we confront our bosses? Like. What are we doing here? And are “feelings” all we need to talk about during, say, a messy divorce? And how about a domestic violence situation, in which we are unusually focused on the feelings of the abuser and not the victim? It’s not the full picture.
You, see this is my conclusion: feelings are SO bottled up and people feel SO silenced that the slightest little hint of “maybe we could talk about our feelings” resonates with people. And this is really, honestly, incredibly sad.
It goes deeper than this. It’s not just that our society is hostile to feelings. It prods us to have cognitive-based, “evidence-based,” “scientific” solutions to our everyday life. And if our feelings are telling us different, so much for feelings.
Here is an example. For decades, we’ve been fed rubbish nutritional advice. We were told that fat was the problem. Sugar is fine. All you need to do is exercise enough. It all came down to calories. We watched as so much of the world developed obesity problems. And if you failed to keep your weight in check or developed insulin problems, you just weren’t trying hard enough. You weren’t getting to the gym enough. You ate too many Big Macs. It’s stunning how quickly relatives turn on each other and mock their overweight family members.
Virtually no one in the 1940s ran marathons or hit the gym. At most, housewives vacuumed. And yet they stayed mostly thin. But despite no success whatsoever in modern times with calorie in/calorie out, blame is kept on the individual person. Your own feelings, your own results aren’t valid. There is a clockwork, “scientific” way towards health. You eat 5-6 small meals per day, manage your calories, and this generates the desired result. Why let your own personal experience get in the way?
You see, it’s not just that your relatives stuff up their feelings. We live in an entire framework hostile to feelings. We see it as incredibly enlightened to deny feelings on our path to success. We snarl at people, “Did you think success would be easy!?” We proudly boast, “No pain, no gain!”
This is not the way life is designed. Life is designed such that pleasure for an organism means it’s on the right path. When a plant germinates, it’s main mission is to find the sun. The sun feels incredible. Sunflowers follow the sun all day. Leaves of almost all plants stay taut, soaking up that deliciousness. When animals are hot, they seek cool water. When cold, they seek shelter. This basic pleasure/pain mechanism has put in incredibly complex specimens over literally millions of years. It does not change when it comes to humans.
People seem to think “seeking pleasure” would mean that people are allowed to go on murderous rampages, rape, steal, and plunder. Ok. If you were to be given full permission to pursue what is truly pleasurable to you right now, would you go out on a murderous rampage? What would you do?
Personally, I would spend the morning relaxing, belly dancing, finding a new recipe, and being with my kids. And when modern society hurls on me that I have to work 80-hour work weeks less I am lazy, have no time to make a nutritious meal, and can’t be with my kids, they would then snarl at me again that I have to take 30 minutes a day to exercise, stop eating fast food, and lecture me, “you know you sure will miss your kids when they are older.”
It DOES NOT fundamentally change with humans. Your feelings are still feedback. Your feelings are THE BEST guide to know if you are on the right track or not. If you try out a new solution, you should see some positive results right away. I have never found otherwise. We would never tell a plant to not seek the sun, but this is exactly what we tell humans. There is something “better” or “higher” than what their emotions tell them.
You see this is narcissism. I have studied narcissism extensively. Narcissists are dead inside. By nature or nurture, either way, they are dead. To learn about emotions, they have to do it cognitively. They have to guess at emotions in an analytical way. They have to make the logical connection that someone dying created someone crying and thus crying must mean they are sad. You can read through Sam Vaknin’s work to learn more.
And what a narcissistic paradigm means is that they can’t learn from their mistakes. They have no emotional feedback given to them. If a life event hits them, it doesn’t make them sad or happy. Narcissists never update or change. And this is the paradigm being hurled on us.
Narcissism is charismatic and sells because it’s easy to sell their “objective, emotionless thinking” as “scientific.” But it is anything but. And it’s wreaking havoc on society.
When we deal with our children, we need to be in-tune to their emotions. They are always feedback. Children are not trying to manipulate us into “getting attention.” When they don’t want to eat anymore, we need to respect it. Their own bodies know them better than we do. When WE are full, we need to pay attention. This is an utterly natural process, but most modern habits end up overriding this hunger/satiety cycle. We are not meant to eat 5-6 small meals per day. We are more designed to famine and then feast. When that hardcore workout is breaking your back, you need to be paying attention. Better, more joyful exercise does exist. Try dance. Or walking in nature. These rhythms. Our feelings are feedback.
One of my most important points in my next book is that we are not born “tabula rasa.” We are not born with a “blank” emotional slate. Emotions are prewired and meant to do work. I document the age-related child developmental stages. It is times when children act out and become demanding but then have an astonishing new skill set. Their brain was going through an “upgrade.” I argue: yes, we have emotional drivers. Way more than just ones to run from fire. There is a ravenous machine that works in the background of a child, asking its needs be met often through demanding, aggressive, emotional behavior. Check out Misbehavior is Growth: An Observant Parent’s Guide to Three Year Olds.
And, yes. As “science” marches on, it is science that has to explain to us the benefits of fasting, by breaking down how it affects insulin. We now have to be told by trauma therapists why belly dancing is good for female physical and emotional health. At this point, we need to be given fully vetted out scientific reasons why dance is good for us, why eating late at night is bad for us, and why we really are touch-starved as a people.
And if you look at all healthy advice, it ends up making a person feel quite sexual. And if you look at all bad advice, you might find a desire to sexually repress people. Eating cornflakes for breakfast as “the most important meal of the day” was started because one devout doctor thought a luscious breakfast encouraged sexual passion. Corn Flakes Were Part of an Anti Masturbation Crusade. Dancing was criminalized in Medieval Times and rebellious women were horrifically prosecuted. It really is a war on sex. Narcissists, by the way, have little sex drive.
So, yeah. Feelings are valid. More than that, they are important feedback. And the original feeling is the one that started all of life: a sexual feeling.
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