Social Question

wundayatta's avatar

Can you protect yourself from your own feelings?

Asked by wundayatta (58354 points ) April 21st, 2010

Sometimes, I think, people will feel they are in danger of gaining too much attachment to a person or thing or activity they can not have. On the other end of the emotional spectrum, some people may be afraid that they have too much hatred for someone or something—a hatred that may impede their ability to have a decent life. So people try to not feel what they are afraid of feeling in order to protect themselves from the consequences of those feelings.

Do you believe it is even possible to protect yourself from your own feelings? Have you ever done it? What was the situation? How did you do it? Were you actually successful at protecting yourself?

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20 Answers

Cruiser's avatar

Once you stop feeling or try to stop feeling you stop living IMO. Good or bad feelings both let me know I am alive and at least trying to live my life as best I can. I also have learned you can’t have one without the other…again it’s the price we pay for living our life to the fullest possible way.

Zaku's avatar

Pretty much everyone hides and protects themselves form their own feelings, most of the time, to one degree or another, without realizing it, because one of the main ways we avoid facing our fears is by rationalizing and forgetting, constructing and believing systems of ideas that avoid that, and limit our confrontation. When release gets cut off too much, we get depressed and suffer other effects. When we become aware of what’s inside and release in non-traumatic ways, we heal and tend to be much more healthy.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

This is where logic comes into play.
A person who bases their actions only off emotion has a hard road ahead of them because emotion isn’t objective. Emotion is bias.

Don’t believe everything you feel.

TexasDude's avatar

I’ve built an armored shell for myself. You have to when you take care of as many emotionally hurting people as I do. Nothing gets to me anymore. I haven’t cried since August. Whether that is healthy or not is anyone’s guess.

OneMoreMinute's avatar

@Captain_Fantasy I LOVE THAT!!! .....Don’t believe everything you feel!!!.....
that’s the best saying I’ve heard since sliced bread! Brilliant! I wished there was a Super Great Answer Lurve!

@everyone I have been learning more and more to practice emotional detachment, to not Re-Act, to observe and not judge, to let go of expectations, to just let people (and myself too) do what they gotta do!, With all that head garbage out of the way, it can allow inclinations to arise from within…yadada yada yada….
I must say that is where all the muchness is!

Jeruba's avatar

I’ve been reading How We Decide, by Jonah Lehrer. He reports on the long-held belief that the more logical and less emotional we are, the better decisions we make, and shows that it is simply not so. One of the points he makes several times, backed by scientific evidence from brain studies, is that a person who has no emotional response is incapable of making decisions and is instead inclined to be paralyzed by minutiae and by the process.

He does show how emotions can interfere with good decision-making, but also how they play a critical role in deciding well.

Zen_Again's avatar

When you find out – let me know. I suck at it. When people get too close to me, I tend to push them away.

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

I think that you can, but it takes a lot of will power. A person can take only so much until they break down. I agree with Captain Fantasy about emotions being bias. It’s things you’ve learned and experiences you’ve had that decide on the intensity of certain emotions. I believe I could have been a totally different person had I a different childhood.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

My brain can function just as @Captain_Fantasy says and I’ll tell myself to go with my head but the damned emotions want to be heard also. I pretty end up saying what I think is the best and also how I’m feeling so whoever can have a heads up. If it’s something I must keep to myself then I try to slow down on acting out, try to talk to myself about it and then let myself act. It’s a lot of ergh.

mattbrowne's avatar

Many neuroscientists distinguish between emotions and feelings. Some call the latter complex emotions and the first basic emotions. Now, as many studies show basic emotions are an automatic response of our unconscious mind and we can do nothing about them except increase our perception about them (which is part of emotional intelligence i.e. diagnosing your own emotions and that of others). We cannot protect ourselves from basic emotions whether it’s an impulse of anger, disgust or the lingering state of mourning.

Feelings are the result of basic emotions being processed by our conscious mind. We are thinking about them. Memories come into play etc. Many researchers think that we can indeed protect ourselves from our own feelings i.e. complex emotions especially undesirable ones. We might feel an impulse of anger, but can learn to decide it’s not worth it getting upset. Some say that mastering this skill can actually prolong your life as much as ten years. We can also learn never to hate other people, because hate is a feeling and not a basic automatic emotion.

tuxuday's avatar

Yep me like that.

When i do something different or get attention of others, lets call it situations, it keeps my mind occupied. It occupies myself that it impedes concentration. I tried to put it off, but can’t. The more i try the more it haunts me.

But whenever my nephew, toddler, is around i don’t think those situations gets to me. He takes all the attention and don’t have any left to mull over those situations. So its like have more things to do, which you like, that demands your complete attention.

jeanmay's avatar

I don’t think you can ever stop yourself from having feelings, but you can improve the way you process feelings, and how you act on them (or chose not to act on them). Having feelings doesn’t necessarily have consequences, it’s what you do with them that counts. In that way I think it’s possible to protect oneself.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

When I notice that I seem to be experiencing stronger emotions over a situation or relationship than makes sense, I stop and try and identify the assumptions under which I am operating. Often, I may have beliefs or expectations that are not really warranted that are leading be to these overly extreme emotional responses. Once I have identified the unwarranted or irrational beliefs or attitudes, I can usually think more clearly, make better decisions and use my emotions that are more reasonable to guide me.

It’s tough to challenge your own thinking. It’s easier to just stick with strongly felt emotions even when they make little sense in light of the available facts.

Failing to challenge the basis for your feelings can get you or keep you “stuck” in unhealthy patterns of behaviour and emotions. Learning to recognize that there is a problem takes practice but once you know, you can reevaluate your assumptions and drop those that are inaccurate or distorted.

Once you sharpen and focus your thinking, your behaviour and feelings will make more sense and they will help avoid previous pitfalls and mistakes.

We are not normally taught to do this. We tend to look for reasons to continue to believe what we think is true. We often filter out evidence that we are wrong.

When we are hurting from extreme feelings and we feel that the world seems to be undermining us and blocking us from what we want, that is the time to identify our beliefs and assumptions and then rigorously test out whether they are consistent with the available facts.

That is how I protect myself from feelings that grind me down or make me want to do things I known don’t really make much sense.

DarkScribe's avatar

Sure, if you run really, really, really fast.

Of course not.

You can however channel potentially harmful responses into safer areas. Wanting something you cannot have, or have easily, is a valuable response. Without it no one would advance, strive, do better. It is called ambition, no matter how it is is disguised, and ambition is a good thing. (Unrealistic ambition is not such a good thing.)

thriftymaid's avatar

I never have tried to suppress feelings. I don’t see how you can be a genuine person and do that. That doesn’t mean you open your life and all of your feelings to everyone, but certainly to yourself.

wonderingwhy's avatar

Do you believe it is even possible to protect yourself from your own feelings?
There are multiple ways of protecting yourself from your feelings. You don’t have to give them up to do so. You can also learn how to let them go, how to stay calm in spite of them, how to manage your reactions, etc. Which I’ve found to be much healthier and productive.

Have you ever done it?
I’ve tried all of them at one point or another. But learning to allow them to pass is a lifelong process.

What was the situation?
There was no particular situation that inspired the effort aside from learning to let go of them. It was usually a culmination of little things/feelings/events/perceptions that I wasn’t happy with. In the case of letting go, I didn’t like the way certain emotions would stick for so long and I knew the cost of feeling nothing, so I was actively searching for a better way.

How did you do it?
Practice. Lots and lots of practice. And more introspection than I thought possible.

Were you actually successful at protecting yourself?
That was only my goal in the case of giving them up, and yes it worked quite well but there were consequences I wasn’t willing to accept. In the rest, I would say I’ve been successful thus far, it is and always will be an ongoing process, but an enjoyable one.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I suppose it’s possible,but I don’t bother trying it.

clioi's avatar

This happened to me very recently. I’m gay and I had a crush on a straight guy (to make things worse he was actually my freshman college roommate). I knew it was impossible and the feelings I was experiencing were only causing me pain. I tried to protect myself from the feelings just by ignoring them. It didn’t work very well when I was roommates with him, but it’s a year later and we no longer live together. I still feel some residual feelings for him which I feel very guilty about because I currently have a boyfriend. I’m trying as hard as I can to eliminate this leftover infatuation because it’s unfair to my boyfriend.

mYcHeMiCaLrOmAnCe's avatar

I can, and I try to protect myself from my feelings, sometimes.
but only if I have to.

for example, now, I’m sad and my heart is broken, but I’m not gonna do anything to protect myself, ‘cause I don’t have to. so, I’ll let my feelings take over me and let me see what’s really going on here

smilingheart1's avatar

One thing I know is that you can change a perfectly good mood into a yukky one by dwelling on a negative thought or memory. Catch yourself at this as often as you can and then just say “cancel” and back to your happy thoughts.

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