How Do I Know What I Feel?

“How do I know how if what I think and feel is right? Maybe everyone else is right? I think I know what I think and then someone comes and says something different and I automatically believe them! Why do I do that? Then I forget what I thought in the first place so I must have been wrong!” Sometimes all we need to do is relax, make a space inside and ask ourselves in a friendly way…

“How do I know how if what I think and feel is right? Maybe everyone else is right? I think I know what I think and then someone comes and says something different and I automatically believe them! Why do I do that? Then I forget what I thought in the first place so I must have been wrong!”

It is very easy to get tied in knots like this, and we all do it, clients and therapists and people who have never set foot in a counselling room alike. The question ‘why do I do that?’ may well be a fruitful one, or may not. I think, at least, that we can leave that question aside!

Many people’s goal, in counselling and out, is to be ‘sure of themselves’, which they conceive of as knowing exactly what they think and feel all the time. I would say that this is unlikely to work. We can all be blown off course, or forget what we were sure of, indeed our thoughts and feelings regularly get broken up and changed in interaction with other people and situations, and that’s just how it is. What we are all really after, I think, is a sense of solid ground beneath us, or within us.

The trick is not to try and hang on to the solid ground all the time, but to know how to touch it when we want to. It is often much easier than we think it will be. Here I’m going to refer to the focusing procedure that Gendlin originally discovered, or made explicit. But you don’t need to think of it as a procedure or technique, they are just ways of talking about reality.

Sometimes all we need to do is relax, make a space inside and ask ourselves in a friendly way, “how am I feeling now?” Usually something inside our bodies responds. When it does, it is not open to argument, from yourself or anyone else. It is simply how you feel, think, and are, in your situation, at the moment. It’s always available, and when you touch it, it always takes you one step further on.

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