Do you ever feel like you're living in your head, constantly analyzing and rationalizing your emotions instead of just feeling them? If so, you might be guilty of intellectualizing your feelings. But don't worry, you're not alone - this is a common defense mechanism that many people use to cope with difficult emotions. However, while it might seem like a good idea in the moment, it can actually do more harm than good.
What is Intellectualizing Feelings?
Simply put, intellectualizing feelings means using your brain to analyze or rationalize your emotions instead of actually feeling them.
It's like trying to use a chocolate teapot - it might look nice, but it's not going to be very useful when you actually need it.
For example, let's say you're feeling sad after a breakup. Instead of allowing yourself to cry and process the feelings, you might try to rationalize your way out of it by telling yourself that the relationship wasn't that great anyway and that you're better off without them. While this might make you feel better temporarily, it's not actually allowing you to fully process and feel the emotions.
Why Intellectualizing Feelings Isn't Good
Now, you might be thinking, "But using my brain to analyze my emotions is a good thing, right?" Well, not necessarily. While it's important to be self-aware and understand your emotions, intellectualizing them can actually do more harm than good. Here's why:
1. It Disconnects You from Your Emotions
When you're constantly analyzing and rationalizing your emotions, you're not actually allowing yourself to fully experience them. This can lead to a disconnect between your mind and body, which can make it difficult to truly understand and process what you're feeling.
2. It Inhibits Personal Growth
When you're not fully processing your emotions, you're not giving yourself the opportunity to learn and grow from them. Emotions are a natural part of the human experience, and they can often teach us valuable lessons about ourselves and the world around us. By intellectualizing your feelings, you're denying yourself the opportunity to learn from them and grow as a person.
3. It Can Lead to Physical and Mental Health Issues
When you're not fully processing your emotions, they can manifest in physical and mental health issues. For example, repressed emotions can lead to chronic pain, depression, anxiety, and other health issues.
How to Begin Feeling Your Feelings
Now that you know why intellectualizing your feelings isn't good, let's talk about how you can begin to feel your emotions. Here are some tips to get you started:
1. Understand the Importance of Feeling Emotions
Before you can begin to feel your emotions, you need to understand why it's important. Emotions are a natural part of the human experience, and they can provide valuable information about ourselves and the world around us. By allowing yourself to feel your emotions, you're giving yourself the opportunity to learn and grow as a person.
2. Identify and Name Emotions
One of the first steps to feeling your emotions is to identify and name them. This can be difficult if you're not used to doing it, but it's an important skill to develop. Start by paying attention to how you're feeling throughout the day and try to put a name to those feelings.
3. Practice Mindfulness and Self-Awareness
Mindfulness and self-awareness are key components of feeling your emotions. By practicing mindfulness, you're able to stay present in the moment and fully experience your emotions as they come up. Self-awareness, on the other hand, allows you to understand why you're feeling a certain way and what you can do to address those feelings.
3. Learn to Feel Your Emotions Through Your Body
There are many people who struggle with identifying or knowing how to feel their emotions. Whether it's because you may experience alexithymia, which is a difficulty with experiencing emotions, usually stemming from trauma. Or you were shamed for having emotions as a child, the list goes on. It can be beneficial to learn to understand the sensations going on in your body by remaining present, and being able to identify triggers that make certain sensations occur. For example, every time your boss screams at you, you feel an ache in your stomach or an uneasiness in your chest. You can now associate those sensations with dis-ease and work through them to create feelings of comfort in your body.
4. Seek Professional Help If Necessary
If you're struggling to feel your emotions or you're dealing with past trauma, it's important to seek professional help. A coach, therapist or counselor can provide you with the tools and support you need to begin feeling your emotions in a safe and healthy way.
Use the code COACHME to get your first session for only R150/ ± $8-10
In the end, intellectualizing your feelings might seem like a good idea in the moment, but it's about as useful as a chocolate teapot. It serves a purpose for a while but you're completely avoiding actually feeling them- keeping you in the same cycle of frustration. By allowing yourself to fully experience your emotions, you're giving yourself the opportunity to learn and grow as a person. So, put down the chocolate teapot and start feeling your emotions - your mind and body will thank you for it!