A Feeler’s Dilemma Accepting Feelings

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A little less than two years ago I found out I was a Feeler. For years I prided myself on the fact that I was a pragmatic Thinker that didn’t have time for all that emotional mumbo-jumbo. When in the company of women who randomly burst into tears, I would study them like a bug under a microscope. I viewed emotions as a weakness and a waste of valuable time.  

The Thinker Advantage

I believe that society, in general, gives greater honor and respect to Thinkers over Feelers. Many of us get the message that Feelers can’t be trusted to fulfill their obligations because they may become a blubbering pile of goo at any moment. Once the blubbering begins, all productivity is awash.

Just to demonstrate this theory, I looked up Feeler in the Urban Dictionary:

Noun; Someone who feels that he or she is very important when, in fact, he or she is not:
“Person 1: OMG! Did you see how Kate acted at Matt’s party?!
Person 2: I KNOW! She’s such a feeler.”

A schoolyard word children use when name calling one another in that immature growth period of around 7-10 years:
‘You are such a feeler.’
‘Get away from me you feeler.’
‘Amanda Owens is such a feeler!’

Yes, I know it’s the Urban Dictionary, but it nicely demonstrates my point that there is a belief out there that Feelers can’t be trusted to be consistently rational.

I swallowed that view hook, line, and sinker. When I found out I was an INFJ, I was not pleased to be just another female Feeler. “Does that mean I have to hang out with gaggles of women and weep into my wine glass every time my husband forgets to buy me flowers?” This thought literally passed through my head.

Feelings Buried Alive Never Die

As you see, finding out I was a Feeler traumatized me a bit – yet it didn’t. It explained so much of who I am and why I struggled to deny feelings that kept resurfacing. I started to give myself permission to be as overwrought as I needed (or wanted) to be. I could get pissed off if my husband forgot Valentine’s Day, even if it was only a ruse to get a bigger box of chocolates. And I had the ability to empathize with others without worrying about my pragmatic facade.

In the last two years, I learned that the reason I struggled with personal growth was due to my inability to process the emotions that kept coming up. Feelings buried alive never die; they just keep festering. A festering wound puts a burden on the whole system.

I view life as a video game with multiple levels. You can’t level up in a video game until you successfully conquer all the challenges in the preceding level. By burying every bit of trauma and grief that I had ever experienced, I prevented myself from leveling up.

Basically, I kept  shooting myself in the foot. I thought it made people respect me more when I kept myself under tight control. In reality though, I was a limping, festering, anxiety-ridden pile of goo with a mask of Spock-like indifference. Did I at least have the respect of others for my cold indifference? Not really. One friend called me a neurotic mess. And another said I clearly needed to get laid.

After settling into the reality of being a Feeler, the floodgates opened and all the stuff I had kept buried resurfaced. My thoughts on a daily basis were, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me! I’m freaking out!” I think my INTJ husband may have developed a facial twitch during this time.

Then I decided to take a more proactive approach to my feelings. Instead of just riding the waves of emotion and rolling over like a rudderless boat, I took control of the sails and navigated the rough waters with intention.

Once I started working through the emotions as they came up, I began to heal. No longer did I feel one step away from total annihilation. The desire to go out into an empty field and shriek until I could shriek no more went away. I could deal with the emotions of others in a healthy way because I knew how to address my own with grace.

The mask fell away, and the real me started to show through.

So, what have feelings done for me:

  1. They have helped me heal.
  2. They have helped me grow.
  3. They have helped me deal with the emotions of others with empathy.
  4. Developing emotional intelligence helps me navigate the world of emotions without fear and dread. I have gained the knowledge that whatever comes my way will be handled, which helps me gain confidence in my coping abilities.

Some Ideas For Working Through Emotions

So, now that I have regaled you with the horrors of my emotional awakening have I only managed to reinforce the belief that Feelers are unstable?

If so, you aren’t seeing the whole picture. All the hangups I have battled over the last few decades were a direct result of not acknowledging my emotional needs and processing them efficiently. I firmly bought into the belief that Feelers were second class citizens, so I denied myself the emotional expression I needed. Unprocessed and misunderstood emotion got locked inside me and prevented me from actually becoming a stable, mature, confident adult.

So, when a Feeler is having a meltdown or can’t make a decision because of a withering lack of self-confidence, the worst thing you can do is tell them to “Get a hold of themselves,” thereby giving them the indication that their feelings are a messy waste of time.

Thinkers and Feelers alike need to acknowledge the importance of emotions when they arise and get them out into the light of day. Analyze the feeling. Journal about it. Ask yourself why you are feeling it. Study it from every angle. Dissect it like an insect in Biology class.

Does that sound too technical for someone who is in the grip? Trust me, it works. It allows you to immerse yourself in the emotion and explore it thoroughly. Often, this action alone will help process long held pain points. It’s also beneficial to step outside the emotion and see it objectively. Is this an emotion carried over from childhood? Is it simply part of my ego and is it necessary? Or can I let this one go? Is this an emotion I have picked up somewhere? Is it really mine and is it serving me well?

Sometimes I will imagine myself holding the emotion in my hand like an orb. All the stuff attached to the personalityhacker.com_Feeler_orbemotion is trapped inside the orb. I study it with interest, then when I decide it is time to let it go I picture myself blowing on it. Does it pop? Or simply float away? That’s up to you. Choose your own adventure.

The world needs Feelers. Imagine how barren our world would be without the nurturing capacity of Feelers. Think of the people in your life who have cried with you, held your hand when you were experiencing a terrible time or talked you through a major crisis. I’m not saying Thinkers can’t or won’t do those things. I’m just saying that it is usually the Feelers of the world who are on the lookout for someone in emotional need. And when they find them, they provide the necessary service to guarantee our society maintains a measure of empathy and compassion.

Feelers can, and have, brought amazing things to this world. If you are a Feeler, give yourself permission to work through your emotions instead of bottling them up. If you are a Thinker, give the Feelers in your life the space and time they need to process emotions when they come up.

A Feeler on their A-Game, unburdened by the festering wounds of buried emotion, can get to a place where Feelings become a superpower. They know the importance of them, but they also can recognize when someone is using them poorly. They will support you all day if you are working through something, and they will tell you what you need to do if you are spending too much time wallowing or playing the victim. The emotionally mature Feeler is a rock. Completely stable and totally reliable. A place to rest into when the world dissolves into chaos.

So, hug a Feeler today – I bet you they will hug you back.

Want to learn more?

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Showing 12 comments
  • Shell
    Reply

    Feeling in the Jungian sense isn’t emotion. It’s a rational function that evaluates. It’s associated with emotions only because emotions are signals for the value of something to someone.

    Jung wrote, “Sensation is to establish that something exists, thinking tells us what it means, feeling what its value is, and intuition surmises whence it comes and whither it goes.”

  • MI
    Reply

    I really like your description of analyzing, asking why, and studying an emotion like preserved insect specimens. That and the orb analogy.

    I need to work on this with my own feelings. When I am not paying attention to them, they kind of build up as background noise and can eventually drown out all other things at awkward times.

  • Noland
    Reply

    Great Article!
    I relate to this a lot. For almost a year I used to think I was an INTJ. I mean, with the Ni, INFJ’s and INTJ’s are pretty similar, but a lot of people told me I was actually a feeler. Apparently, I understood people way too well. So cue confusion.
    It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one out here.
    Once again, great article!

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks for the feedback, Noland!

  • Sarah
    Reply

    Another great article 🙂 Thank you for your insight, it is priceless.

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks, Sarah! That feedback means a lot. 🙂

  • Melisa
    Reply

    Being a T/F relates primarily to how we make decisions. We all have feelings, and have to learn how to manage and allow for them in the beautiful ways you described. Your article reminded me of Terence Real’s book, How do I get through to you: Closing the intimacy gap between men and women, which provides insights into why people who show displays of emotion are undervalued in Western society.

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks for the comment, Melisa – and the book suggestion. As I was writing the article I kept thinking of how men and women have been perceived in the workplace. And that it was likely the belief that women are emotionally unstable that kept job opportunities stunted. I chose not to integrate it because I didn’t want to open up a can of worms. 😉 I will check out the book. Thanks!

  • Merja
    Reply

    Love love LOVE this Charis! What an awesome translation of what many of us can relate to. What a gem you are!!

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks, Merja! I appreciate it. 🙂

  • Michelle
    Reply

    Such a well written article. I related so much to your experiences over the last two years. I have been on a very similar journey. Came to conclusion that learning to discipline myself around my emotions and yet allow myself to feel them completely and acknowledge them rather than bury them would be a healthier way for me to be in the world than hiding and feeling the fear of being myself fully, and being seen. You have shared your experience in such an articulate and understandable way. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks for this feedback, Michelle! It really means a lot to me. 🙂

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