You’re Allowed to Feel It—But Not Allowed to Act On It!

The old saying has it that you should “follow your heart.” However, this isn’t necessarily a good idea for everyone, and definitely not a good idea for me, or people like me. When I follow my heart, it usually ends in disaster. This is due to the fact that our rational thinking process is very skewed when we’re highly emotional, and most of the time, we don’t make the best decisions in that place! Why is that? Because it’s never a good idea to make decisions in any state of imbalance or extremes!

I’m a very emotionally charged person. My emotions can be really overwhelming when it comes to certain “triggers” I have. When someone triggers me, they might as well have committed a crime. In the past, depending on the “offense” I felt someone committed, I could launch an all out attack that would leave not much left in its wake.

Struggling through months of cognitive behavioral therapy is teaching me that I’m not “allowed” to act on my feelings. I have every right to feel them, but I must step away before I talk to the person involved, and take a time-out. I have, and still am, learning behaviors that are healthy and appropriate in situations that would have had me fly off the handle, or even retaliate. It is very hard and painstakingly difficult to rewire my brain, but it’s keeping me away from a lot of the heart aches I have brought on to myself throughout my life.

Every time I want to really react, I do something that is good for me instead. For example, when someone triggers rejection, I go and get a manicure, watch a movie I want to see, work out, go swimming, read a book, or play World of Warcraft. Whatever keeps me stable and rewards me for not acting out is allowed. Whatever is HEALTHY is allowed.

My initial responses are not yet changed. My first response is still the good old storm, but then I stop dead in my tracks and before I pick up that phone or write that email, I force myself to walk away.

The same old trigger for me is that I feel that people “got away with it.” I am the one who has to tell them what a true douche they are, because all the other cowards idly stand by and look the other way. I keep feeling the way I felt as a kid, when people did stand by and no one intervened or helped on my behalf. When I feel this way an unbelievable rage comes over me, literally shutting down my rational thought process and I go after the person; or so I did in the past.

The overwhelming feeling of not being able to confront those who have cowardly abandoned me, turned on me or betrayed me is deeply ingrained in me. And yet, I am learning to heal from that. It has never worked to confront them. I never did get an apology, but instead would get more hurtful blame and guilt trips thrown at me. I have never really accomplished anything by telling them what it did to me, because the ones who pushed me to that degree of hurt were every single time not only so deep in denial that they couldn’t see truth if it hit them on the head with a 2×4, but were also so incredibly selfish and/or heartless that they simply lacked the ability to truly feel for another. This is like screaming at a deaf and blind person, literally.

It sounds simplistic, or even stupid, but one of my mantras is “Just say NO!” Whenever I am presented with something that hits my fight mode, I don’t run from it, but I walk away, talking to the voices of reason in my life. Whenever I want to “help,” or “save” I do the same.

I am stumbling about like a child. It’s almost as if I ask “am I allowed to say this/that” and then wait for the answer before I proceed. It’s just that nowadays, I actually know the answer before I act and follow accordingly.

My life is changing drastically. I look around me, and there is very little that is familiar to me. From the initial “ranks,” there are less than a handful of people left; I have a brand new job in a brand new environment, and I’m really taking care of my health now in ways that I never have before.

It’s all so unfamiliar. Nothing is as it was, and maybe because I’m no longer acting on emotions, I’m feeling them so much deeper and stronger than ever before. It’s like a mountain I keep climbing and I know, with absolute certainty, that one day, in the not-so-far future, I will have overcome and climbed that mountain. I shall then plant my victory flag and finally thrive, instead of merely coping and surviving.

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16 thoughts on “You’re Allowed to Feel It—But Not Allowed to Act On It!

  1. gyspygirl

    Carmen…wow…it’s like i’m reading a story about me and my life. I was physically, mentally and sexually abused as a child/teenager and I have many issues going on at the moment. I am bulimic…my one way of controlling something in my life. I am awaiting CBT but they say I must confront my eating disorder and bipolar first. I have many triggers in my life still and finding it very hard to impossible to walk away and consider reacting in a different way. I get that blind anger and rage and it is boiling in me still.

  2. nazia

    Excellent Article. Every word speaks to me.

    The impotent rage one feels that people “got away” , is truly tough to deal with and requires a lot of courage and healing.
    But the results are often amazing, as you have very well described here.


  3. danio

    I’m very happy to have read this article. Im in the process of learning this HARD lesson. After reading your article I became more aware of how my trigger-response keeps me in the same ugly stuck situation! An ex-boyfriend of mine has the same effect on me; he comes around and I get excited and enthusiastic, without even being fully aware of it I respond and react in a way that doesn’t serve me and it gets me nowhere with him!!! It’s an emotional response and a sincere one at that, however, I end up feeling confused and foolish. You are soooo right- “You’re Allowed to Feel It But Not Allowed to Act On It!” I will keep this in mind for future reference and even though it takes alot of strength and self restraint my ultimate goal is to break-out-of an outworn pattern that no longer serves me! May the spirit help us all!!

  4. Carmen Hexe

    Dear Km,

    No, I am not taught to shove feelings aside. Quite on the contrary. My therapist encourages me to feel whatever I feel, she just teaches me how to not react when I am in an extreme mode. I do express my feelings, but I don’t do so (as much anymore) by screaming, flying off the handle or turning into a maniac. I don’t run off and brood, I simply do something that makes ME feel good about me. When I am calm enough I go back and THEN I talk about how I feel. I don’t bottle things up at all.

    I also write a lot of letters, which I don’t necessarily send. You would be surprised to see how strongly you may feel about one thing and how much better you are articulated, once you remove the rage and had some time to gain a better perspective or sleep on it.

    Nothing is to be gained by attacking people. But there is a lot to be gained in learning how to calmly communicate your boundaries and emotions. People tend to listen to you that way 😉

  5. lucy

    I embrace your raw honesty! In my work I tell clients to embrace the “NOW” part of their lives. The habits that were learned in chldhood no longer apply as adults. And, many of us take our LEARNED FAMILY HABITS into our life journey. Once you realize “oh, that’s not the way I am or feel comfortable reacting, THAT WAS HOW MY MOTHER, FATHER, BROTHERS, SISTERS, REACTED, then you can let go of those “family habits” and are free to EMBRACE YOUR NEW HABITS. Much love and light, LUCY

  6. Tina

    Wow….As I was ready this I had this strong feeling it was being written about ME. These are all the same things I have struggled with my entire life. I have created a problem with EVERY relationship I have. Whether it be family, friend, authority, romantic. Your very right in saying it’s a hard thing to change. Thank you for writing this it’s nice to know I am NOT the only one.

  7. diadriel

    Brightest of Blessings, Carmen, on your journey in healing. I have walked that road, and empathize. All of our feelings are valid; what we Do with them is what is released into the Cosmic Soup. There is only one thing that spirit has told me I need to add to what you have written: It is not “Follow Your Heart”, but “Listen With Your Heart”. This heals us from a place of acceptance – accepting that there are people who do not share our values and/or respect our boundaries, or even accpet us – and that is OK. They have their purpose, and so do we on this plane of migration. Each of us do not necessarily have to share each other’s purpose and path. Live true to yourself and your own integrity, examine and release the shards held within that make us bleed over and over, view the world, people, but especially yourself, with acceptance and loving compassion.

    May you Journey in Joy!

  8. Jacqueline

    Hi Carmen,
    I too love your articles, I totally agree with your method of handling a difficult situation, do something anything that is good and positive for you, something that makes you feel good about you, there is so much negative people and situations that come up, every single day and we don’t always nurture our-self, but in fact it can be so easy to go along with whatever, attacks or influences come from another.

    Blessings and Big Hugs!
    Jacqueline x9472

  9. clairex5242

    kmlemak, you are so right! sometimes our emotions make others uncomfortable, and they advise us to shove them down so they don’t have to deal with them. Shoving down the anger only brings you more angry situations. It is not about suppressing any emotions! It is relearning how to deal with them.
    We are taught that some feelings are negative and socially unacceptable….NOT true. Every emotion has a positive quality…all of exceptions! It is what our minds/actions do with the emotions that gives them the negative quality….how to deal? Find a private space and allow yourself to feel what you are feeling with no blame..blame stops the healing instantly. Just feel what anger feels like. write , write, and write some more, say all you need to say then burn it or distroy it. You ever see a child turn purple with anger and move on to laughing? He is not shoving anything down. He feels what he is feeling and moves on to the next feeling, he has yet to learn what we adults try to shove at each other. Claire 5242

  10. clairex5242

    Hi Carmen, what a great article! I am so happy for you that you have learned to use your emotions as a tool for changing your life instead of reacting to them! The saying “follow your heart” is something that can be accomplished only when you have done the process like you have. Following the heart does not engage the brain or thoughts but the higher part of us that has so much wisdom. congratulations on your new life !!

  11. misskrystal

    Thank you, Carmen. I agree with you. And this is also part of anger management.
    We all need a cooling off period when our emotions run high. When we act out on our emotions, a lot of times, our logic and reason tend to get tossed aside. Excellent article. Miss Krystal

  12. Gina Rose ext.9500Gina Rose ext.9500

    Great article, Carmen……..well said !!!!!

    That’s why I love your articles so much, you ” shoot straight from the hip”……
    …you are refreshingly honest. You go girl!!!

    Yes, when I was much younger I had to learn how to pick my battles, because some battles are just not worth the effort and energy.

    Blessed Be )O(
    Gina Rose ext.9500

  13. velvetoversteel

    Bravo Carmen!!! You could have just written my biography! I’ve experienced this not only with people who were not there for me and only in denial but blamed everyone but themselves for everything did or didn’t do that they should have. Then when my youngest son with Asperger’s was born and I tried to get him an education and for the bullies to be stopped, in each and every school he attended… well… the ‘triggers’ would send me into mother tiger mood in which no one was spared from my ‘all out attack’. It seldom ever made things better for me or my son.

    Gaining control of my emotions was the key to being heard and taken as a person with genuin complaints and concerns. For me it was hypnotherapy after my dad’s death and then continuing with meditation, praying, and like you, finding other ‘healthy’ activities like exercise and doing something nice for myself.

    Writing has also helped me tremendously this past year. Not only is writing good therapy for me, but so is the feeling of helping others through connected experiences. Also reading other’s writings, esp. yours Carmen, is very comforting in the fact we are not alone in our experiences and curcumstances.

    Thank you once again, for a Great and Need Read Article, Carmen!!!
    A Hugh Hug & Many Blessings to you,
    Coreen @ VOS

  14. kmlemak

    Don’t you feel that you are being taught to stuff your feelings instead of “what to do instead”? I keep getting told that I have anger issues (my husband left me), and I can “walk away” from the feelings and distract myself, but I don’t feel/believe that that accomplishes anything except to stuff them down so that can emerge later. I have forgiven him, and maybe the anger is from something else. I don’t know. I’ve “walked away” and no longer know where to look for the source of that anger, not that I’ll know what to do with it anyway.


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