Don’t Tell Me How to Feel!

“What kind of website is this? Who does this guy think he is? Telling me how to feel!”

Learning how to feel—or learning how to process feelings—involves skill. Some of us were taught this skill correctly. Some of us weren’t. Or we forgot what we had learned. Some of us have developed habits that rewired and short-circuited something that we had once learned properly.

This site is a refresher course for some people and completely new material to others. I have trimmed away all the excess words, pages, flotsam, grease, fat, whatever, to give you the meat of the lessons. I have reduced the lessons to a very basic level so that you can learn the fundamentals and then adapt them to your personality, your professional image, and your unique position in your family and the world.

What Does That Mean? How to Feel?

Actually, it means processing stimuli.

“Processing stimuli! There’s a phrase that just bored my guts out!”

Okay. Try this. It means responding to your environment. I use the word stimulus because it’s more specific. Your environment is all of the stimuli put together. The first step in dealing with your environment is to recognize its parts, that is, each stimulus separately.

Postive and Negative Stimuli

Sometimes our brains automatically simplify our environments for us. That’s why we think all men with pony tails have low-paying jobs or women in tube tops drink Pepsi for breakfast. Our brains simplify things automatically. Unfortunately, our brains are often wrong because we’re using the same part of our brain that a mother grizzly bear uses when she is boxing the ears of some innocent hiker who stumbled onto her cubs.

Let’s use a more powerful part of our brains called the pre-frontal cortex. Let’s process two stimuli by the simplest method possible and sort into two piles, negative and positive. Here goes.

Stimulus Positive Negative Proactive Response
Rattlesnake in the zoo X Joy
Rattlesnake in the bed X Contempt

Responding with fear in either of these situations inhibits the purpose of each stimulus. If you respond with fear to a specimen in a zoo, you miss the learning experience. If you respond with fear to the vermin in the bed, you could provoke the animal to sting you.

I use this example only as an extreme to make the point more impressive. Now, I will process a more likely stimulus.

Stimulus Positive Negative Proactive Response
You shit your pants

(Go ahead and giggle!)

X Contempt

(Embarrassment is a kind of fear.)

Contempt is the proper response here because it leads to action. Embarrassment or fear accomplish nothing. But, of course, a little humor (a type of joy) is inevitable.

Humans Process All Stimuli by Reason and Emotion

The processing of negative stimuli (stressors) and positive stimuli (pleasers) are done automatically by the lower parts of the brain. However, learning how to feel requires using the higher parts of your brain. Learning how to feel will place you in charge of how you feel and how you respond. This website breaks down the process of learning how to feel by using a balancing “mechanism” that organizes all stimuli into six areas, three positive and three negative. Please check out the page that explains the How-to-Feel Balance Wheel.

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