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Interpreting Feeling | Constructive Meanings
BY: T. Franklin Murphy | January 2018
Our bodies react biologically to experience. We feel life first. Cognition joins in and creates explanations for the feelings, creating the foundation for more complex emotions.
We experience emotions. Living is a feeling experience; we are constantly attracted and repelled, feelings pushing and pulling. These emotional reactions—initial feelings—are followed with an interpretation authored by the "story-telling" brain. Our brain automatically answers the posed question, “Why am I feeling this?” The brain retrieves memories, evaluates context and then creates a coherent explanation—at least coherent to the person involved in the construction.
Intimate relationships—essential to well-being—stir strong emotions; these emotions have the kindest and harshest interpretations. Relationships easily are filled with unneeded drama that disrupts the bonding and security.
We need vigilance guarding against faulty interpretations, creating meaning is not perfect. The story-creating mechanism creates a framework from the past to organize new experience but is not relegated to serve reality. Creating Meaning is a subjective process tainted by bias. When childhood fears intrude on adulthood, the slightest event prompts anxiety. Unrealistic fears can be intense, requiring creative interpretations. Often the cause of the emotion is embedded in the psychological past. The psychological programming operating beneath awareness, full of hurt and sensitivities is often the cause for the strong emotional waves but seldom identified as a factor by our story-telling mind. The emotions still rage demanding explanation; the mind assuages the demands by blaming elements in the present.
With the underlying causes from our past untreated, the emotion continues disrupting our relationships, waiting to erupt. Often causes that control impulses remain hidden inside the broken soul. The meanings, falsely created, are adopted, accepted and protected. A partner’s benign actions seen through brightly colored and biased lenses are easily interpreted wrong, citing deep character flaws, needing to be fixed.
"Creating Meaning is a subjective process tainted by bias."
Many insecurities established in childhood or from traumatic past relationships, live on—thinly covered, and pleasantly decorated. Excessive dissatisfactions in the present points to the past, new actions trigger past fears, and we then we wrongfully project emotions onto the current partner. The obnoxious fears disrupt opportunities for the new relationship to grow. Partners tire of being blamed and defensively react. A cycle begins, we react to their reaction and they react to ours. The fear of aloneness and abandonment becomes a destructive agent, constantly disrupting as we blame the partner.
Our experience of emotion has led us off track. Instead of wisely guiding, the feeling experience of living frightens and demands retreat. Mindfully examine these erroneous pushes to act, seek help and begin the process of improvement.