Why Emotions Hurt

by Mark Ivar Myhre on April 25, 2006

Why do emotions hurt?  So much of the time emotions really do seem so painful.   And the pain just goes on and on and on.

“I want to resolve these feelings but for some reason I never do.

“Mark, you say ‘feel your emotions’ – and I DO! But nothing seems to happen.

“Why is this happening to me?  Why do I still feel so bad?”

Good question. — The bad feelings keep happening to you and you don’t know why.  You don’t know how to make them stop.

If you keep feeling the same feelings over and over – and nothing changes and it never seems to end – there’s a reason why.   It’s not chance.  It’s not cause you’re bad and wrong.  It’s not because you deserve to suffer.  God’s not punishing you.  It’s not because of the ‘depression germs’ or the ‘anxiety germs’.

It’s because we’ve all forgotten how to feel our feelings. We’ve been taught, conditioned, threatened and beaten until we shut off our feelings.  We learned to not feel our emotions because the world demanded it of us.  You were not allowed to express what you really felt, starting at a very young age.

“Don’t you cry!”

“Don’t you DARE cry!”

“Don’t you get mad at me!”

“You want to see what it REALLY feels like?!”

“Shape up! NOW!”

“What are you scared of? Good grief!”

“NOW what’s your problem?!”

And on it goes.  Maybe you never heard those exact words.   Maybe you heard different ones. But you understand the point.  Few and far between were the parents wise enough to allow complete and healthy expression of their child’s thoughts and feelings.

Instead, we learned how to suppress, depress, repress – press in any number of ways – the natural expression of what we were feeling.  Our parents ‘helped’ us by not letting us express our emotions just as their parents ‘helped’ them.  Often it was well-meaning:

“I’m only telling you this for your own good!”

We soak up all kinds of stuff from our parents, and that can lead to emotional pain.

Can you see how you were like a sponge when you were little?

Remember, a child is a sponge. We learned how dangerous it was to express our emotions – usually before the age of five.  Before our conscious mind had developed.  At that age, we were operating mostly out of the subconscious mind. The part of us that questions nothing.  It merely implements the instructions it’s been given.  Usually by God-like figures called ‘our parents’.

Like a good soldier, the subconscious always follows orders.   (Until it accepts new ones.)

You were given a lot of orders as a child. Orders that you were UNABLE TO QUESTION.  You simply carried out the orders.  Many of those orders concerned the necessity – the need – for survival purposes – to NOT feel your emotions.  Your life depended on you not feeling your true feelings.  Or so it seemed.

“No, Mark. You’re wrong. I DO feel my emotions. All the time. And it hurts like hell.”

I hear you.  I know what you’re saying.   I used to say it myself.  But what you’re feeling is probably not real emotion.  You know how I know?

Because you can never feel a real emotion for more than a few minutes.   Real emotions never just go on and on and on – with nothing changing.  It’s impossible. You can’t contain a real emotion for any length of time without ‘tainting’ it.

(One apparent exception – grief – is actually a package of emotions.)

You can’t store emotion in the back room and not expect it to not start smelling bad.  It’s gonna stink.  ‘The stench of fear’ – for example – is a very real metaphor.  Fear does have a stench.

Remember that programming you got as a kid – to not feel your emotions? Well, you can’t really turn off your feelings.  But you can manipulate them. You can’t stop the flow but you can muck it up.  You can make a mess of your emotions – a big mess – when you don’t feel them and let them go.

See, instead of FEELING our emotions, we manipulate them instead.

One way is by pressing them down.  De-pressing our emotions can lead where but to depression?  Or, we could blow them through the roof with mania. Maybe we manipulate them some other way which might lead to anxiety.  Is it any wonder why emotions hurt?

Another way to manipulate our feelings is by trying to interpret them instead of just feeling them.

“You made me angry!”

So rather than feel the anger and release it, we start punishing the other person. Instead of feeling – we’re blaming.

My favorite way to not feel my emotions is by analyzing them instead.

“Hmmm… I’m getting angry right now. Why is that? Am I
really angry at Mom instead? Or is this coming from my
subconscious mind or something? Cause I’m not an angry
person. I wonder why they’re intentionally trying to make
me mad? They must have some agenda…”

I can easily get lost in the trap of trying to think my way out of feeling.

And by the way – talking about feelings is not the same as feeling them.

Here’s Why Emotions Hurt

The bottom line to all this manipulation – we have a secret agenda that we’re not admitting.  At the very least, we have the agenda of not being responsible for what we’re feeling.  Or maybe it’s the hidden agenda of punishing and blaming another.

Either way, we end up with a twisted and distorted version of real emotion.

Rather than drinking from the pure wellspring of raw virgin emotional energy – and gaining the benefit from it – instead I’m perverting it into something that is now choking me.

I’ve polluted the waters and now I don’t know what to do.  It doesn’t smell too good. I know that.  I’ve made a mess of things because of my subconscious programming that I don’t even know is there.  I manipulate my emotions now because I grew up manipulating my emotions.  It’s all I’ve ever known – or it’s all I remember.  Now I’m sitting in a mess.

As a small child, I naturally felt ALL my feelings. I had to learn how to stop feeling and start manipulating them instead.

It wasn’t easy. I had to fight my natural instincts. I WANTED to feel my feelings. All the time.  They had to really work hard to get me to change.  But once I did, I never looked back.

I forgot the power that comes from feeling and releasing my emotions.  I forgot how strong they made me.  Instead, I began to focus on making the best of a bad situation.

“I can still use my feelings to punish them.  I’ll get ’em back.  I’ll use my emotions to hurt them.”

That’s when it starts to smell bad.

You’ve been INTENSELY programmed to not feel your feelings.  The positive intensity of emotion has been replaced by the intense desire to NOT feel.

But the feelings keep coming. You can’t stop them.

You can, however, separate yourself from them.  You can create a wall.  You can create a gap.  You’re over here, and the feelings are over there.

So often, we’re not even aware of that gap; that wall.  If there’s a gap and/or a wall between you and your feelings – then they will just go on and on and never resolve themselves.

You can’t get a handle on them.   All you can do is watch helplessly as they seem to run your life.  The wider the gap – the stronger the wall – the more helpless you feel.

What you’re feeling is no longer real emotion.  It’s become a twisted version of emotion.  A false emotion, you could call it.  Most of what I used to feel was false emotion.  A distorted version of pure emotion.  Because I’d forgotten how to truly feel.

It sucked.  No wonder I didn’t want to feel it!  And so the separation grew.

I fought off my tainted version of emotions because they were too painful to deal with.  It seemed like the more I fought them, the stronger they got.

So I had to fight harder.

It’s a no-win battle and the only way to resolve it is to stop fighting.  To stop manipulating and start feeling.  It’s not going to happen overnight, but it can be done.

It’s like relearning how to breath, or relearning how to blink your eyes.  It’s hard to explain exactly how to do it.

It starts with understanding the problem of why emotions hurt:

1. You’ve been programmed – intensely programmed – to not feel your emotions.

2. The pure raw emotional energy keeps coming and coming.  It cannot be stopped.

3. You must do something with those feelings.

4. Doing ANYTHING other than expressing – feeling and releasing – your emotions, creates problems.

5. Emotions are your source of power. The more you deny them, the more powerless you become.

6. Separating yourself from your feelings starts a painful downward spiral.

7. Separating yourself from your feelings makes them seem more powerful than you, and makes them much harder to deal with.

It can almost seem hopeless, but it’s not.   Just being aware of the problem can help to resolve it.  For more information, listen to this FREE audio file on releasing emotions.


Pat July 26, 2006 at 11:08 am

Dear Mark,
I still haven't read through all of your helpful emotional healing articles. I'm working on it. In the past three years both of my parents died, I was diagnosed with carsinoma (slow growing skin cancer) and had it removed in three places and am fine, my son graduated from H.S., my other son has had an on and off problem with heroine addiction, I filed bankruptcy and to top that off, after we sold my mothers house, my own sister accused me of bankruptcy fraud, and the court nightmare is finally over, my son got my $30,000 inheritance and hasn't given me any.
I initially wrote to you, Mark, because I was looking at stopping Paxel about a year ago. I was on it for one year. I had alot of anxiety over the way my father died. He went in for hip surgery and ended up with brain damage and on life support until my sister, mother & I had to make the awful decision to stop his life support. Then we found out my father hadn't left any provisions for my mother except the house they owned. I found myself being my mothers only means of the outside world and after going through 4 months in the hospital with my father, then also dealing with my sons heroine addiction, I told my doctor that I couldn't handle it anymore. Well I went off Paxel last summer in 2005 and had absolutely no problem. But I am starting to wonder if I should go back on it after all that I've just been through again this past year. I was so stressed out over the court thing, that I even got into an accident. Nobody was hurt but it shook me up knowing that my mind was so full of trying to figure out how to deal with everything and everybody could make me not concentrate on what I'm doing. I've found it easier to not deal with things. I told myself that I would never talk to my sister again after what an evil thing she did. She and my brother have always treated me terribly. My mother knew and would tell me her reasoning. She said they were jealous of me because i was the youngest and got more. In later years we all found out the real underlying reason. My brother and sister had a different father and nobody even knew it until we were all adults. But anyway, I was just telling myself about a week ago that I need to forgive my sister and ask her forgiveness if there was something I ever did to hurt her ( not intentionally). Then I find out that she went behind my back regarding having my parents ashes buried. We had agreed to have them buried in their hometown in MI. My sister lives in FLa. She had the ashes shipped to Fla. and had a woman from the cemetary call me and ask me to sign a consent form so they could be buried in Fla. I didn't know when, where, how & to hear it from a stranger. Then I changed my mind about forgiving my sister because she's just evil. I told her where she could go and how could she be so selfish. I hung up on her and needed time to think. Later that day, my son told me that he had found out that very day from my moms old neighbor that my sister was dying because her lung cancer has come back a third time. I felt terrible for telling her where to get off. I called her and did go through with my original expressions of forgiving so that I could feel at peace but she said so many lies and awful things to me on the phone that day that I just know that I never want to speak to her again.
I think I am depressed. I have good days but mostly, I don't want to go anywhere or do anything except around the house. I have so much to do here anyway so I suppose it's good. This is getting too long so I'll end it at that. But, sometimes I get so upset when something sets me off, all of these bad things come rushing in and I hyperventilate or can't concentrate or just go numb. I still believe in what Dr. Wayne Dyer said in one of his books. Stay away from the people who make you feel bad. That's what I've tried to do but somehow I am surrounded by them. Maybe I'll move to Oregon someday

Anonymous November 12, 2006 at 10:14 pm

your a genius

suzi October 8, 2010 at 3:05 pm

deat pat, sorry to hear of your family issues. I , too suffer from family interactions, that make me suicidal. Wayne Dyer is so right. The fortunate times that i am interaction free from them i am happy and am told i have a bubbly personality. Strangers are kinder to me than my older sibs and mother. Sad but true. I now no longer rush to return their calls or go to family get togethers. I feel great and have made a kind friend that respects me and enjoys my company without bullying me. I hope all the best for you. Forget them however you can and have a happy life that you deserve. sincerely, suzi in mo

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