A fundamental law about feelings is, “All feelings have a reason to be.” That is, if we feel a feeling, there is reason that feeling is being generated. There is no feeling exempt from this law, even rage, jealousy, hatred or whatever feeling it is we may find difficult to admit to our Selves we are experiencing.
Feelings function to keep us aware of what is going on around us so that we can be rest in relationship to the environment (well-being feelings) or to correct a problem that may endanger our Selves (warning feelings). That seems to be pretty straight forward, so what’s the problem?
In prior articles we have talked about how we dump the warning feelings which we tend to label as “bad” into an internal container. The container into which we dump these “unwanted” feelings has another name – it can also be called the unconscious.
In the world of the unconscious, there is a very complex arrangement and interaction of internal personae. In that inner world, created between the developmental years of 2-5, there is the internal parent, the Inner Other, who prohibits the expression of the forbidden feelings.
The forbidden feelings are themselves entities who exist in the condition of the developmental time in which they were cut off from the main developing Self. So if the child was 3 years old when he/she learned anger could not be expressed, that part of the Self exists in the condition of a three year old. The forbidden feelings, then, exist as personae themselves who, because they live in the condition of children, are called Inner Children.
In addition to the disowned feeling parts of the Self, there also lives in this inner world of the unconscious another Child persona. This is the part of the Self, who believes the parental person is absolutely essential to the survival of the Self. This is the part of the Self who allies her/himself with the internalized parent. This Inner Child slavishly obeys the orders of the Inner Other Parent.
Because of this alliance, a good name for this part of the Self is the Ally-Of-The-Inner-Other, Ally for short. It is because of this alliance of the Ally and the Inner Other that the prohibited feelings are kept out of sight and mind.
Both kinds of Inner Children, the repressed feelings (Instinctual Children), and the Ally, notify the adult part of the Self, the Central I, that the Self is in danger from each of their perspectives through anxiety or some other communication.
In the rage-aholic system, Anger being consistently ignored, experiences the Self in ever increasing danger because the proper actions to protect the Self cannot be taken. To correct this situation, it sends out signals of anxiety to the Central I. When the anxiety becomes intense enough, the Center I shifts her/his attention to that source of anxiety and lets Anger out of the “cage”.
However, because so much pressure has built up in the anger “place”, Anger comes out with great intensity (rage). That alerts the Ally that the Inner Other’s prohibitions have been transcended and the Self is in danger of losing the “all important other”. This in turn triggers anxiety, guilt and shame coming from the Ally that gets the Central I to once again put Anger back in jail. And the cycle begins all over again.
In the depressive system, a prohibited feeling like anger is rarely let out. The result is that the person feels depression, which, when looked at more closely, contains an amalgam of feelings which often includes anxiety, anger at Self, guilt, shame, worthlessness, physical pain and maybe a few others added in from time to time. All of those feelings are the repressed feelings’ attempt to communicate the problem, “the something that is wrong about what’s happening.”
Because of this inner place of the unconscious and its arrangement and power structure, we live in two realities. One reality is the “outside” reality – the one in which I relate to you and you relate back to me. That’s the straightforward one. The other is the internal reality – the one in which all these inner personae of the unconscious are interacting with each other and because of the interaction all kinds of feelings are being generated.
It is because we exist simultaneously within these two realities and because one them is be definition unconscious we often don’t know to what some of our feelings are a response. As a result, we often direct them at persons or events where they don’t belong. And that is shy we have trouble with our feelings because often we are dealing “with only half the deck”.
If we are able to discern more clearly where the feelings are coming from, what they are a response to an, as result, we understand better how they might be able to be used to deal with the problem (usually internal) that is present then, “All feelings have a reason to be” makes sense.
In the next installment, we will look at how it is possible to address this inner world in a new way as a way to resolve some of the difficulties we have with the feelings that emanate from the unconscious place.