No, I am not going to start out by discounting feelings. That would mean I would lose at least half of you from the start (both men and women, in case you thought this was a sexist remark). And I would be placing myself at odds with God. The Bible talks about how God also feels (joy, anger, love, etc.). What I am talking about is somewhat different.
Often I ask this question of a client: “Have your feelings caught up with your reality?”
In essence, are the feelings that you are currently experiencing left over from a different time period in your life? Do you need to bring these feelings ‘up to date’?
Trauma can have a profound effect on our ability to regulate feelings – especially fear. It becomes very natural for those of us who have experienced very negative situations to operate on ‘high alert’ even when the danger has passed. The trauma can come from either abandonment or abuse (not getting what you need, or getting what you did not need).
Often the result is what I call “scanning behavior”. I am either looking for threats in my environment, trying to determine if I am safe or I am looking for reassurance of my worth and lovability. Either of these behaviors may make me a relational risk. I could become either emotionally detached or emotionally needy.
The solution? Facing the wounds of the past and letting God and others be part of the healing. You might not even be aware of what those hurts are – or have minimized them to make them manageable. But they are still there waiting to be triggered, often at a most unfortunate moment.
If you feel stuck because of runaway (or seemingly non-existent) feelings – it’s time to get to work. Get involved with a caring community.