There are many answers to this question. Today, I am going to share a recent personal experience, that lasted for a few weeks, that illustrates why feelings matter.
As you know, I’ve written the first book in the series of I Do, I Don’t: How to Build a Better Marriage. It’s being published on November 1st. At the end of each chapter is a section called Put it Into Practice (PIIP). While I was in Germany, my publisher let me know that those sections needed to be more interactive.
No big deal, right? I started working on it. I realized that NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming) would be helpful. NLP is based on the fact that people learn and process in one of three ways: visual (60%), auditory (20%) and kinesthetic (20%). So I went down a long path, that turned out to be a rabbit hole. Explaining what NLP is, why it matters, how to determine your own and your partner’s NLP style (BTW, I suggest you look up NLP and figure it out). Next, I had exercises in all three learning styles. I was several pages in. Wow, way too long, and way too many words for a graphic novel!
I had a call with my publisher. “More interactive and less cerebral,” he said. I asked a lot of questions to learn more about what he was thinking. I settled in to write again. I scrapped what I’d already written. I made two more attempts, and sent one off to him. This time his feedback was that it had too many choices. I had to simplify it.
I scheduled a zoom meeting with my publisher and included my husband, who is my first reader. I wanted both of us to listen so we could discuss it at home and be able to determine if I was on the right track. I wrote another draft. “Closer” my publisher said, “more interactive.” But I knew I was still pretty far from the solution.
I’m giving you a lot of details, reader, because we all go through so much thinking at times.
I was feeling discouraged. I realized I was trying to re-explain the concepts that are already clearly explained in the chapters, and amazingly illustrated by my artist.
I had another phone call with my publisher. “I’m struggling here, John. I'm listening and trying really hard to understand what it is you want. I want this to be very useful and understandable to my readers. Maybe you need to find an educator to write the PIIPs. I’m a therapist, not an educator. I’ve never written a lesson plan.”
He then told me he’d been a Maths teacher and tutor, and began to explain how to write a lesson plan. After a while, I said, “John, I don’t have a neural pathway as an educator. I’m not going to get a neural pathway as an educator before our deadline.” He laughed. And he understood. We ended the call, both thinking.
That evening at supper I told my husband and brother-in-law that I was really struggling with this. I took a deep breath and told them, “I feel stupid.” Logically I know I’m not stupid, but I sure felt that way. I sat in my chair, and asked myself what I ask clients: to dig deeper. “What’s underneath feeling stupid?”
Suddenly I saw myself as a girl, showing my mom poems I’d written. She corrected the spelling. There were no words of encouragement or interest. Spell-check. Ouch.
I thought, “Oh, finally I understand what’s going on; why I feel stupid.” Now that I knew where I was, emotionally speaking, and I knew what had been triggered, I could soothe my inner little girl, give her words of affirmation, encouragement and love. (Note: Being able to understand and integrate something won’t necessarily come to a person so quickly. I’ve done a lot of work on myself, and it sure paid off.)
Several times that evening I brainstormed with my husband. We’d talk and explore, and then move on to other topics. Lo and behold, the solution came to me later that night. I turned on the light, wrote it down, and went to sleep.
I typed up part of the chapter one PIIP and sent it off to John. Yesterday I heard back from him: “Yeah, this is good. Well done. Very smart.”
Would I have gotten to a solution without acknowledging my feelings and digging further into them? Maybe. Would it have taken longer? Likely.
Clients often comment on how slow it is to find, express, and resolve feelings. I always tell them the time they spend on it now will save tons of time later because they won’t have to recover from and repair misunderstandings and/or arguments.
Yes, feelings matter. They are driving you with or without your awareness. You have so many more options in life when you're aware of your feelings.