Have you ever thought of an incident which impacted you a lot more that you expected? Something as simple as someone complimenting or criticizing your appearance or ability, maybe. It could potentially have the power to ruin or make your day and the power of a few words or gestures are usually all it takes to evoke a feeling that you end up carrying throughout your day.
A strange musing that inspired this thought is the existence of two types of temperature; one that is measured and the other is the ‘feels like’ reading. If as humans we have an understanding that a metric for the temperature sometimes can’t quite quantify the accuracy of how hot or cold humans feel, shouldn’t we also have ‘a feels like’ parameter for certain experiences which can’t be reduced to a simple word?
‘It feels like a lot.’ ‘It feels like a rock on my chest.’ ‘It feels like I can’t breathe.’
The next time someone explains what the experience felt like is an opportunity to actually find what their view of this experience was like. For example, some people who struggle with meeting new people, or even familiar people they may have some trauma associated with, it is rarely what the other person does or says but more towards how the person feels as they engage in that interaction, which could be due to so many other uncontrollable factors. It may be as short and simple as saying hello, but it feels like a task that requires the whole body to agree in consensus to get that word out. It may be as simple as going down to get food from the fridge, and it feels like the strain to get up will leave you with no energy to eat. Or even when someone is saying ‘you shouldn’t’, and it begins sounding like ‘you’re incapable of doing’.
Helping what ‘it feels like.’
Generally, people don’t have the awareness or consciousness of the present moment to really reflect on what 'it feels like'. For those who don’t generally look within, it’s usually better to go with what is on the surface than to dig deeper into what it feels like. That depth is scary, confusing and most often, rejected. For them, it’s better to allow them to base their judgement on what is visible, tangible and rational. On the contrary, for those who are hypersensitive to their external and internal stimuli, they need the time and space to gauge what an experience, person or event actually feels like. It’s almost as if they aren’t able to comprehend their reality until they have processed it wholly. For those individuals, frequent down time and space is needed and encouragement to look within is always welcomed.
In either cases, it is important to validate how one feels. It could be painful and scary for some and have no impact on the others but neither emotion is invalid. This is something most humans we are quite capable of and actually good at. But, only when engaging with children. When a child comes with a scraped knee, no matter how they fell, what they were doing or how minor the injury is, most carers will instinctively give all the validation and words of care needed so the child can feel like they have been attended to. It’s only as we age that we choose to brush pain and the need for validation away. As humans we too need attention to our wounds, without getting into the why's and how's, just unconditional positive regard towards what it feels like.
What it feels like, is what it is.
Photo by Kristin Vogt: