Mad, Sad, Scared: Can You Control Your Feelings?

saddollOne of the most intriguing studies in life is human emotional feelings.

Well, for me it’s been an incredible journey. I could tell from the time I was very young that my feelings were so powerful, they actually guided my behavior!

What a concept!

Even if I kept them to myself and didn’t express them very openly, or tell other people what I was feeling.

If I felt fear, for example….from the tiniest level worry, to sheer terror with a racing heart, sensations coursed through my body. I would naturally turn left instead of right, or withdraw, or hide, or plan my revenge, or avoid.

At the same time as realizing how powerful emotions were, my mind began to have a few things to say about “feelings”.

It wasn’t too difficult to pick up the general consensus about feelings…it was the way everyone around me believed. They all appeared to be pretty dang concerned about feelings.

My mom, my dad, my grandparents, the adults next door, the teachers. They all seemed to agree and make comments which said feeling big feelings was not cool. You should turn them off, not let them overtake you or ruin your day. You should tone them down, make them manageable, and be rational.

You need to control your upset feelings.

Rational meant you could talk, breathe, communicate easily, make logical or simple decisions, and not do anything over-the- top or weird. You certainly wouldn’t be blubbering or “losing control” or screaming, crying, throwing things, or even laughing too much or too long.

So the other day, a picture popped in my head of an old friend having a sobbing fit over something I can’t remember. I just recall we were having a heart-to-heart conversation, and he started crying in huge big convulsive waves and he couldn’t really talk anymore.

It was a long time ago. But my immediate thought in the middle of having that memory was “God, that guy was seriously F#$&*@ Up. What a Head Case.”

Oh. Hang on. Pause.

Maybe I could take a look again at sobbing and not be so quick to adopt the world view that it’s annoying? Or how about any huge expressive feeling?

Rage (someone screaming), Fear (someone shaking violently), Wanting (stalker-ish love sick behavior), Grief (wailing).

Instead of hacking these kinds of feelings to bits with judgment and being sure it’s true that expressing them intensely is messed up….how about I look a little deeper, even though I’ve looked at this many times before, and been in therapy and all kinds of modalities that talk about expressing your feelings all the time.

What’s so upsetting about FEELING?


OK. Feelings show you are believing something stupid, you’re wrong, you’re not in control of yourself, you’re not seeing the full picture, you’re immature, you’re self-centered, you’re good for nothing (until you get your head back on straight), you’re mesmerized, you’re addicted, you’re not calm, you could do something dumb, and people will want to drop you like a hot potato.

Wow. That’s some very harsh judgment! Whew!

The thing is, when you stop here and attack yourself for feeling big feelings, they get wadded up in a condensed ball in the pit of your stomach somewhere.

Just like anything else you attack or dismiss.

Let’s look at it from the outside looking in, from this observation point.

If you feel terrible about your own Big Feeling, see if you can find someone else who’s cuttin’ loose with that feeling. Whether it’s love, hate, fear, sadness, insecurity, grief.

“That person is too emotional.”

Is it true?

Yes, it’s disturbing me.

Really? Are you sure?


How do you react when you believe that person is too “x” (fill in the blank on the feeling you don’t like observing)?

I put up a shield between me and him. I believe he has a problem and is a problem. I get away. I quit speaking to him. I make him my enemy.

Who would I be without that belief that he is being too intense with his feeling of “x”?

I’d watch, quite fascinated. It would be like walking along a quiet river, and then turning the corner and there’s a waterfall. Big, loud, gushing.

I would stay. I would feel very connected with him. Wow, I might even give him a big hug and stay close physically, without receding or disappearing.

I had no idea this is who I would be without the thought!

No critical voice, no calling him names and saying he’s a crybaby or emotional wreck.

In fact, something inside my own body relaxes and expands and sinks down towards the earth. I absorb the waves, I’m not afraid of them. I feel them move through me. It feels good, and safe.

“Fear is your friend. Don’t try to block it, or hide it, or get drugs for it. It’s something created inside you….Welcome every fear, no matter how uncomfortable. Even a doubt. If a doubt arises, turn inward. See how you really feel in your heart, how it resonates. The heart is being. You will not make a mistake. The heart doesn’t want an answer, it just wants silence. If you want a speedy journey to awakening, feel your fear.” ~ Burt Harding

I turn the thought around: No one is too emotional, not this person I am observing, not myself, not anyone full of feelings.

When I do not “decide” or “know” that any feeling is bad, I am free to relax and allow all these movements of thought, feeling, energy in the body to be just as they are. I am not against them. I am not for them either. I am not trying to get rid of them or trying to praise them.

I am just being.

“Anything can appear within this presence including movements of fear, anxiety, anger, frustration, doubt, confusion, and any other so-called “negative emotion,” not to mention the positive thoughts and feelings.  Awareness is nothingness.  It is the space in which all things, all movements, appear and disappear.

If you truly want to be free, you will dispel the belief that awareness is supposed to feel or be experienced a certain way–either positive, negative, or neutral.  Even believing that awareness is totally neutral is a trap.  Neutrality is just another position.” ~ Scott Kiloby

Suddenly, I have an even greater glimpse of absolute freedom in the flow of all that is here.

No planning. No “working” to get myself to feel a certain way or not feel a certain way. Everything just is, I watch, there’s nothing I can do about it.

What are your concerns about feelings, big or small? What happens when you question these beliefs? What did you learn about an emotion (or more than one) that made you decide you must destroy it and never feel it?

I would love to hear. Click below on the link to leave a comment if you like.

“When you realize that every stressful moment you experience is a gift that points you to your own freedom, life becomes very kind.” ~ Byron Katie

Much love, Grace


12 Replies to “Mad, Sad, Scared: Can You Control Your Feelings?”

  1. Thank you for writing! Those feelings can seem so unpredictable and chaotic, it’s not surprising keeping things seen through a mental filter appears calmer. It’s all a process, and thank you for sharing what you’re learning.

  2. Hi Grace
    Thank you for sharing a part of you.
    I learned in my past that feeling any emotions is cumbersome and hurtful, that’s why i grow to use my head more than my feelings. I kept it all neatly inside and only recently it burst like a bomb. I’ve been a perfectionist because i learned not to trust the universe and also was a control-freak for the same reason (errr…maybe i still am).
    Now i begin to learn to accept, flow and smile to all. still hard to keep being in the moment but your notes helped. Thank you so much :)

  3. Wonderful questions, Bridget. My basic answers to your questions are that to the first (how do we teach) you model it, model it, model it. You do your own work. They will learn most deeply by watching anyway. I’ve found it great to realize all I have to do is my own work, and my kids follow. Truly! Second, about pinpointing irritability. Sit with it quietly, maybe when you aren’t even in the moment anymore (you can probably conjure the irritation though). Write without editing for 15 minutes about what irritates you. It will be scattered all over. Find what especially irritates you about your world in that moment of irritation as you remember it. It seems hidden, but it may come clear very quickly with the writing.–Love, Grace

  4. Grace, I always get value from your ‘notes’ and love the illustrative quotes you use. Such good reminders – thank you for your daily work.
    Sending love,

  5. Hi Grace – I just came across your work and it definitely resonates with me. I agree with you completely on our need to experience our emotions and dismantling our beliefs. I have a few questions I would like to get your thoughts on …. 1) how best do we as parents teach our children to do this wisely and 2) I wonder what your thoughts are on underlying feelings of irritability that you can’t pinpoint a specific belief underlying it. Do we just “feel” it and let it pass in due time or do we try to get at the root of where it is coming from – if there is an underlying belief we need to dismantle.
    Thank you for your time.

  6. SO glad I found you and your work on the Web, Grace. So, so helpful!

    With huge gratitude,

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