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On Being Out of Touch With One’s Feelings

On Being Out of Touch With One’s Feelings


An enormous amount of trouble in the world, especially at work and in relationships, is caused by a peculiar phenomenon of our minds: a tendency to be, as we put it, “out of touch with our feelings”. When we first meet this idea, it sounds strange and even a bit insulting. How could “we” not know what “we” are feeling? Of course, we look from the outside like unified beings; we carry one name, and sit in a compact, physical container. The distances between different parts of us aren’t so great. How then could we be so multiple as to have secrets from ourselves? But in reality, there are at least two distinct parts to mental life: a Feeling Self, and an Observer Self. Sometimes the two are utterly aligned, someone asks us what we feel like eating, and the communication between the two selves is clear and immediate, we don’t even notice a lag. we simply answer: “Salmon and Avocado” At other points, it’s far trickier – we’re sitting on the sofa at home after a long day at work and are under the impression that we feel quite calm, and suddenly, an apparently minor remark from our partner arouses us to deep irritation we stand up and start shouting about the unfairness of a host of issues we had until just then unaware we even felt strongly about. Soon, we’ve got a crisis in our hands. Why is it so hard for the Observing Self to report accurately on feelings? Firstly, because we’re afflicted by so many background ideas about the unacceptability of particular feelings. Across childhood, we have instilled in us, so subtly we don’t even notice, strong notions about what are, and are not, permissible things to experience. Traditionally, this might have meant that boys were not allowed to acknowledge that they felt like crying, or that girls weren’t allowed to entertain certain kinds of ambitions for fear of being “unladylike”. We might not have such obviously naive prohibitions today, but other equally powerful ones have taken their place. We may have picked up covert but forceful indications that no decent person, no one loved by their parents at least, could be enthusiastic about making money or unable to cope with work, tempted by an affair or still upset over a breakup three years ago. Furthermore, despite the apparently sexually liberated spirit of the times, the lion’s share of our sexual impulses remains impossible to avow. There is still a great deal we’re not meant to feel, in order to fit our most desirable of categories: a “good boy” or “good girl”. When difficult feelings do threaten to emerge, the Observing Self typically takes fright and looks away. Rather than produce an honest account of feelings, he may go numb, or try to file a report that’s more acceptable than true. “I’m feeling very tired”, instead of “I’m feeling you’ve let me down.” “I’m depressed” rather than “I’m furious”. “That’s absolutely disgusting!” rather than “I’m strangely turned on.” Our problems are compounded by the way that many powerful feelings, especially of upset, envy and frustration, can get kicked into action by apparently very trivial and seemingly nonsensical things in the outside world. For example, we might be thrown into paracosms of envy we find no room to confess to when a friend mentions that a mutual acquantaince has been promoted, or a partner may look away for 3.5 seconds before we’ve entered an explanation about how tricky a work meeting went, and we experience seething indignation and wounded pride that we haven’t got our lover’s full attention. But we say nothing, because to own up to many feelings of upset, involves acknowledging a humiliating degree of fragility. Yet, feelings that haven’t been reported don’t and can’t go away. They linger, and spread their energy randomly to neighbouring issues. Envy comes out as spite, anger over inattention comes out as a remark that the partner is looking “rather fat at the moment.” Though of course, by the time that hurt has manifested itself as aggression, any chances of being comforted are clearly over. Feelings we haven’t got a handle on wreak havoc. They buckle and strain the system We develop pernicious ticks, a facial twitch, impotence, and incapacity to work. Alcoholism, a compulsion to look at porn, most so-called “addictions” are, at heart, symptoms of insistent, difficult feelings that we haven’t found any better way to address. How then might we come to be more skilled observers in correspondence to our feelings? Reading may have rather a large role to play, a great writer is ideally, someone uncommonly patient about the curious, less discussed, and apparently weirder things that float around in the human head. Another move is to ensure that we’ve allocated a lot of time to self-observation. It can look rather self-indulgent to ask for a few hours in the evening, in which there is nothing more apparently demanding to do, than sit and stare out of the window or around the bedroom with a pad and pen on one’s lap. These so-called “idle moments” are when the Observing Self can finally catch up with feelings that might have been too shy, ashamed or harassed to emerge in the rest of the day. They are like church bells we can make out only in the evening when city traffic has died down. Failing to do this can, among other things, ruin our chances of getting to sleep. Insomnia, is the Feeling Self’s revenge. All thoughts that haven’t been properly catalogued in the day. Understanding the serious danger of the gap opening up between “what we feel” and “what we’re aware of” brings another major benefit: We grasp that this issue unnecessarily apply to other people too. Quite often, they will be saying things which are not, in fact, in line with their true feelings. Mean things when they’re feeling vulnerable, perhaps, or arrogant things when they’re feeling small, and will identify that it’s our duty to forgive them for not always managing to be reliable correspondents of their inner lives. It’s not really sinister to think this way of others it’s a kindly move that gives us the energy to lend a second, more compassionate look at behaviour that might initially have appeared simply horribly off-putting. Feelings are frequently far from wonderful, and often, should not be followed. But we should accept that if we ignore, deny, or overlook feelings entirely, the price will always be higher and worse. They will exercise a powerful, malignant, subterranean influence across the whole of our lives. One of the two often overlooked, but key arts of living, is to learn to devote ourselves to correctly labelling and repatriating our own, and others’, orphan feelings.

Comments (100)

  1. I, just as I'm sure everyone else out there, feel like I'm the most complex person in the world when it comes to my mind and feelings and that nobody can ever understand me. Still I long to find another person who would indeed understand me and be there to offer me support and care. Thinking rationally, however, I know very well that we are all complex creatures and we have much more in common than we think we do. It's ironic and sad that we feel so alone and misunderstood when we're actually going through very similar things. I think if we only believe that we're more similar to each other than we think we are, we're going to come a long way in connecting with each other and not feeling lonely.

  2. 91 people are having a difficult time with their feelings

  3. Thank you so much. really.

  4. What if you want to lose your shit but can't

  5. Alcohol is the short term answer!

  6. That moment when you're arguing really seriously with a friend and after a while you're like '' wait I don't even really care about this''… it's so awkward how we get wrapped up about things so easily

  7. I love you. I am able to survive my PhD because of you.

  8. thank you for shining some light for future generations and all us the lost children wandering around in "adult" bodies. if this had been produced a decade ago – when i was just graduating highschool – i might not of had as many problems pursuing my ambitions since then. <3

  9. could be in Portuguese… I couldn't get everything, but helped me a lot! thanks! this channel is great!

  10. Made me remember one of the first therapy sessions when it took me one whole hour to figure out that a certain episode of my life had made me feel "sadness". Up until that moment I had been so confident that I knew what feelings were, it's easy to say "they're crying therefore they're sad". But it was like a blind man saying the grass is green and the sky is blue.
    I remember going back home in shock. The fact that I hadn't been able to recognise such a simple, basic human emotion without a therapist challenging my thoughts for an hour had been truly shocking. After that many things started making more sense, my lack of empathy as well.
    I'm still not done with learning, but now, with my newly acquired sadness and anger, life feels much fuller!

  11. The content is useful. The images in the video are somewhat scary or triggering for some of the people with whom I work.

  12. "A humiliating degree of fragility" was a phrase that jumped out at me. But there are a few of those in this.

  13. i just hate this, i live by my emotions if i ignore i dont just ignort a important part of me i ingore myself
    and it is so painful living like this, you should deal with it NOW OR NEVER

  14. WOW…so simple!!!

  15. I canyt fucking understand you
    speak fucking clear bitch

  16. Sorry for me comment, i was angry. When i watched the whole video with the sound and with the clear mind i saw that this is absoluetly truth. Monsters are hiding with us, and we dont like to admit them because that is not what our parents haev thought to us. Thanks for the video, and really good job. Subscribed

  17. I enjoyed the art that went into this video. The music and animation etc is very good.

  18. I always know exactly what i'm feeling…I just tell it to shut up lol

  19. I offer an alternate explanation. People are often unaware of a feeling because of a neurological problem. There simply isn't always a working path between different parts of the brain. Part of you may feel something strongly enough that other people watching you are aware of your reaction and you aren't at all. Perhaps this is related to depression, or other psychiatric problems. Perhaps this is a problem men have more often than women – but it's a real problem.

  20. I'd also like to suggest that I get the impression that older people are less aware of their feelings than younger people, especially in men. Perhaps there's some form of neural degeneration with age.

  21. Lmao, the sound that that green creature makes cracks me up everytime!

  22. "…feelings that haven't been reported don't and can't go away. They linger and spread their energy randomly to neighboring issues." BAM. Exactly–which is Why You May Be Angry and Not Sad (another School of Life video).

  23. Acknowledging feelings means you have to acknowledge reality and most people are terrified of acknowledging how truly miserable they are because it brings up existential questions of what's the meaning and why are we here? People that commit suicide aren't crazy…they're just too honest

  24. I hate how people can believe they can somehow divest themselves of feeling. Wanting to rid feelings from yourself is a manifestation of fear. You hear songs that talk about how so and so got hurt and now no longer feels anything. I call bullshit. People get wary when they are wounded emotionally. They pretend that they no longer feel anything and it helps them justify hurting others. A terrible cycle that only maturity and self knowledge helps

  25. No offense but the voice gives out a lot of sssppppp… May be the voice should be edited for less treble. may be I am being unfair on my part but Extra Credits has a better narrator, rather a bit dramatic but the tone is good.
    But SOL narrative style is very soothing & calm.

  26. "I'm strangely turned on" hahaha

  27. We aren't supposed to be enthusiastic about making Money?

  28. Im tipsy but still this is how much I love you tube

  29. Damn, I needed this so much! Thank you. :’ (

  30. Excellent advice. I'm going off to sit with a pen and pad πŸ“

    My opinion: Most of the illustrations are very good but trying to decipher the stranger symbols can be highly distracting.

  31. Very inspiring. I think this is what therapists are doing most of the time. Just give you some time to label you emotions and we'll be fine.

  32. Very helpful video! Thanks πŸ™‚

  33. Hi, i've never regularly followed your channel but watched a few videos here and there. Ever since i saw one, i was never sure to how accurate or scientifically proven the points you make in your videos are. Do you use any researches or all these videos supposed to come from a philosophical viewpoint? If they're scientifically proven, what are your sources? Or can maybe someone else answer this question? I'd appreciate it.

  34. what are you suppose to do when you feel like you do the oppsite. I say too much to my partner and it puts a strain on our relationships.

  35. The problem is that people hold on to feelings, despite the nature of their impermanence. Let the good feelings go, in the same way that the bad one are advised to.

  36. Ode to the psychedelic nature of consciousness

  37. It should be mandatory to all humans to watch this

  38. I find it that you guys most often cite 'bad experiences in childhood' as the cause for whatever problem you discuss. While that may be true you guys should also explore the problems you discuss from other angles too like the biological aspects of it too. The cognitive distortions involved. For example some of the problems are because our brains are simply wired that way.

  39. i don't even like salmon and avocados

  40. successful animation

  41. Wow, this vid was made for me!

    I created that gap to protect myself, now i'm numb and have no idea how to mend it. And i'm not even sure if i want to. I just don't know.

  42. Man I remember the person I was in high school and in college.. I don’t think I ever cried ha.. a few years of therapy and all I do is feel!!!

  43. Alain de Botton is the Jarvis of humanism :))

  44. Well im pretty sure right now that im in deep touch with some kind of feelings… they are so invasive … so real.. but i like… i like a lot

  45. Fuck😠
    I'm not ready to address the problem.πŸ˜’

  46. This has to have some of the best graphics of any SoL vid yet. So good, I had to play it again with something else on the screen in order to actually hear it.

  47. Tell me secret of how you guys producing such an amazing sound .what type of mixing it is.

    All are helpful and made in a smart way _Great work team !!

  48. I feel like my social group touch my feelings sometimes when they like me it makes me feel happy sometimes sometimes they drain me and I was passionate but I have dreams they gossip over me talking behind my back

  49. Which books would be recommended for this?

  50. I love this video! Whenever i feel angry, the screaming volcano sound pops up in my mind and lets me know what my hidden mood really is. Yay! The pouting backpack sound works too! crying puppy sound comes in too

  51. Your words are magic

  52. Love the voice of the narrator

  53. I made korean subtitles for this video and submitted it few days ago but it's not showing up on video…:////

  54. Thank you namasteπŸ’žβ€οΈπŸ’›πŸ’šπŸ’™πŸ’œπŸ’“πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

  55. The noises coming from the "feelings" creeped me out.

  56. "β—”β—”Β¨ *

  57. The film reel sound effect was driving me fucking mad.

  58. is this a direct attack

  59. ΨΆΩŠΩΩˆΩ†ΩŠ Ψ³Ω†Ψ§Ψ¨ m.hd233

  60. just one question, how do you know these things

  61. How can I be in touch with my feelings when people are awful. I have been dehumanized by almost everyone and they have displayed sheer enjoyment from their behaviour. I was never able to say what I was going through without being harassed in multiple ways by people in authority.

  62. Envy was drawn so cute.

  63. I feel better than good πŸ’ͺ🏾🧐I’m on top POST

  64. Superb – one of my favourite SOL videos

  65. No use to show your true emotions in front of anyone.
    People will feel uncomfortable if you do/ or take advantage of you.

  66. Please don't use such a repetitive background noise such as the camera reel. I get the graphic element you're going for

    It's really distracting while I'm wearing headphones and I really want to pay attention to this one

  67. Please disconnect me from my feelings.

  68. I couldn’t stop hearing the film reel the whole video

  69. Idk, I think I always analyze whatever I feel too much to the point that I get confused. For example, I hate when people ask how I am or how my day has went. Really, at the time, I haven’t had time to analyze what happened that day, and nothing seems to be a good overall mood for the day
    Also, this sounds quite Freudian

  70. Türkçe altyazı ekler misiniz?

  71. Control your emotions: Civilization
    Pander to your emotions: 68 made up gender pronouns and counting.

  72. What do you mean by labelling and repatriating our feelings?

  73. 6:32 The face xD

  74. 0:39 made me laugh

  75. According to this video, just be bored to fix your problems

  76. Videos like this are condescending and disrespectful… and not for any profound reason. We are adults. I personally am an adult who is a father of three, a veteran world traveler, and a public intellectual/author who's had a role in shaping and also in questioning the direction of our world. You accuse us of coveting the title of "good boy" or "good girl" but you're the ones who think to call adult citizens such, just as African Americans were commonly called 'boy' even after war service and into old age. These videos constitute a form of emotional abuse and really ought to be regulated to protect the human rights of YouTube users.

  77. 2:28 Girl needs a brunch buffet. XD

  78. "Did you notice the front door is squeaking again?" Sounds familiair to me .After vorming home grom a long Day at work my eigen starts haar endless list of what should be dan .No rest ,no peace with a woman like that.

  79. This is me in a nutshell.

  80. Outstanding video.
    Thank you for Channel πŸ‘

  81. sperm-looking feelings, way to put it LOL

  82. You know the looking away or hiding the truth is an self safety mechanism of the observer self.which is a good thing !

    I mean rather than dwelling on which has been done and noticing depression is a horrible thing according to me.
    I know it may sound rough but it is better to ignore it most of the time and move on.

  83. He's talking about the conscience… Only humans have a sense of Good and Evil. Unless you're a psychopath without a conscience. Animalistic.

  84. After growing up in a neglectful home, finding only solace in Catholic grade school, i am only now realizing how important it is to be in touch with your feelings. If you aren't, then your life can take many wrong turns.

  85. Hey School of Life admin… It's a request to keep the pace of your explanation a bit slow. It's difficult to grasp what you say with a depressed state of mind.

  86. these help me so much

  87. πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ»

  88. These videos hopefully prompt individuals to begin the development they feel enrich their lives.

  89. Anger is a secondary emotion . If you really evaluate why your angry you’ll see that your really ;
    -hurt
    -scared
    -frustrated
    -lonely
    -etc.
    So next time you get mad sit down and figure out why your mad and you’ll learn something about your yourself πŸ’―

  90. There is still a great deal that we are not meant to feel πŸ—οΈ

  91. LOVE the animations, they make me LAUGH..a NICE emotion..

  92. It's important to recognise and acknowledge your feelings and give them a place, but it's not always correct to let yourself be guided by them when it comes to interacting with other people or making life choices.

  93. "the Observing self typically takes fright and LOOKS AWAY" Ugh, OMG that's SO ME -__-

  94. Nobody is in touch with our feelings except idiots and pathological deviants. We can explore but there is no guarantee to find out the true feelings. We all live in a life theatrical experience.

  95. β€œMost addictions are at heart symptoms of feelings we haven’t found a way to address.” Does anyone know of any further reading or research to his idea here? Is there a psychological term for this phenomenon?

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