Your Heart And Mind

by Mark Ivar Myhre on April 15, 2012

Here’s a question someone just asked me:

“Use your mind, feel with your heart, use your head; these are all sentences that come up often when discussing the matter of emotion. Would you kindly explain the differences in the above. I know that both the head and heart are physical things but how do I control what I cannot manipulate?”

Those of you who’ve been on my email list for some time know that I’m licking my chops to answer the ‘manipulation’ part of the question… but I’m going to use great restraint and first look at the ‘heart vs. head’ issue.

Let’s start with the basics:

What is an emotion?

An emotion is a package of thoughts and feelings. No more; no less. When I feel the emotion called love, I am experiencing various thoughts of love and various feelings of love. Every time I feel the emotion of love, I may have slightly different thoughts and feelings.

Also, each person has their own unique thoughts and feelings that vary from everybody else’s. Nobody experiences love the exact same way, I would imagine. Therefore there is no ‘right’ way or ‘wrong’ way – there’s just billions of unique ways.

However, since many people experience ’emotional pain’ to one degree or another, let’s say there are ‘healthy’ ways and ‘non-healthy’ ways to experience emotions.

If I feel wonderful a good bit of the time, then I probably experience emotions in a healthy way. If I feel miserable a good bit of the time, then I probably don’t. The goal, obviously, is to feel as wonderful as you can as much as you can. But again, it’s not about right or wrong. It’s about feeling whatever comes up as cleanly as possible, so it passes through me and I can start feeling what I want to feel.

I mention this preamble because it’s so easy to judge ourselves when it comes to how we feel. But it’s not a question of judgment; judgments tend to make things worse. Rather, it’s a matter of observing the feedback we get from our relationship with our emotions.

Now, as for those first statements:

“Use your mind.”

“Feel with your heart.”

“Use your head.”

I agree whole-heartedly with those admonishments. I do use my mind. Quite a bit. And I feel with my heart. Again, quite a bit.

Thinking is the domain of the mind, and feeling lies in the domain of the heart. If you want to feel good and enjoy good emotional health, then you’ll want to do both. It should be obvious and self-explanatory. But when you see so many people in pain; so much emotional suffering; then apparently it’s not.

Here’s the problem:

Thinking is socially acceptable. Feeling is not. There’s something wrong with you if you have feelings. You’re supposed to be strong, and think strong thoughts. Rather than feel, which means you must be weak.

As I write these words, I’m very aware that more and more people are coming out with information encouraging you to not just think, but feel too. I think that’s great. Just remember you don’t feel with your head.

The biggest stumbling block to feeling wonderful is trying to feel with your head.

If you experience any kind of emotional pain – whether it be depression or anxiety or excessive fear or panic or raging anger or the grief that will not end or anything else, for that matter… and especially if you feel an emotional pain in your chest or even if you feel nothing at all – then you’re probably trying to feel with your head instead of your heart. Which never works.

In fact, we’ve got about six billion people proving that doesn’t work. You can only feel with your heart. There is no substitute for opening up your heart and letting the feelings into it.

Use your head – yes! Think! For that matter, why not start thinking new thoughts? Break out of the thinking rut, and start thinking thoughts you’ve never thought before. Heck, why not go all out and think thoughts that no one has ever thought before? Break with the herd!

But no matter how great your thoughts are, they will never substitute for feeling with your heart. That’s where so many people mess up.

Not that you can blame them. We’ve been taught and conditioned from Day One to devalue our feelings.

We’ve all heard of ‘great thinkers’ but who in the world has ever heard of a ‘great feeler’?

Once you stop laughing, and seriously considered it, you’d probably come to the conclusion – “What’s the point? I’m not trying to feel – I’m trying to get rid of my feelings. Why would I want to be great at feeling? It hardly sounds bankable. I doubt the Nobel Prize Committee will come knocking at my door because I know how to feel.”

Do you see the situation?

  • We’ve been taught feelings are bad.
  • But the feelings just keep flowing into us via the emotional wellspring.
  • So we come up with clever and inventive ways to not feel.
  • When we don’t feel, we end up with emotional pain.
  • Then we try even harder to not feel.

We want to stomp them out. Take a pill. Talk our way out of feeling. Heck, we’d cut it out of our bodies in a heartbeat, if only we could find something to cut.

It’s all because we’ve bought into the Big Lie about our emotions: There’s something wrong with us if we have feelings.

Which is kind of like saying there’s something wrong with us because we’re in a human body and we have a heart.

“My heart? That’s the fist-sized muscle on the left side of my chest that pumps blood throughout my body. It doesn’t feel anything. Unless I get chest pains…”

And I would say we have an invisible heart inside us whose job it is to feel whatever comes up – whatever bubbles up from our emotional wellspring. Of all the human gifts we possess, none is more devalued and underappreciated than the invisible heart inside us that allows us to feel.

Once you know this then the whole question of manipulation and control of emotions becomes laughable. It’s insanity to try to limit what you feel. My goodness, you should be going the other way!

What more can I feel? How much more deeply can I feel?

That’s my perspective. Because I’ve seen the rewards are endless. But I also understand how people can want to manipulate and control their emotions. They just don’t know how wonderful it is to feel. They think feeling is the problem instead of the solution.

In truth, blocking your feelings is the problem. Feeling your feelings is the solution. That’s how you end emotional pain. That’s how you stop feeling bad. And that’s how you start feeling wonderful.

Look, if your drain is stopped up, then stopping it up even more is not going to make things better. That would be crazy. Same here.

I understand when there’s a lot of gunk stopping you up, then at first when you start opening your heart and feeling deeply, it will be a little unpleasant. But it’s going to be more unpleasant tomorrow if you don’t. Besides, you can clean out that gunk in rather short order if you don’t fall back on the knee-jerk reaction to block the feelings by telling yourself stories about those feelings.

I also understand it can be a challenge to start opening up your heart and start feeling more deeply simply because it’s a new experience. The habit and the pattern and the program is to block those true feelings, and instead think about them. Think about what it means when you get angry rather than simply feeling the anger. Which is what almost everybody does.

If you’ll break from the herd, and starting thinking and feeling for yourself, the rewards will be immense. There is no end to how deeply you can feel. It just gets better and better… if you will just muster the courage to break from the erroneous beliefs that have been pounded into you about your feelings.

What more can I say? Does this make sense? Do you have any questions or comments?


David @ Everlution April 16, 2012 at 8:49 am

Great stuff here Mark, makes a lot of sense. The role of emotions and moods is still to undervalued in our society. It’s no wonder there’s so much dissatisfaction…we aren’t taught nary a thing about the emotional world.

I also would include the body and breath in this, though it may seem obvious, I’ve found many people are cut off from the neck down in experiencing these too, along with emotions. As always, I starts with awareness and then the exploration continues from there!

Mark Ivar Myhre April 16, 2012 at 9:23 am

Yes, I forgot to mention the body and breath – that’s so critical also. It’s all part of the mindfulness.

Nick April 16, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Great post Mark The lengths to which us humans go to avoid feelings are limitless. Booze,TV,exercise,TV,work etc; Would you write an article detailing how we can get in touch with our feelings. Which of your programs would you suggest?

Mark Ivar Myhre April 16, 2012 at 7:04 pm

Hey Nick,

thanks for writing.

How to get in touch with our feelings?

Let me think about it and I’ll write something up.

raed April 20, 2012 at 11:42 am

Interesting post Mark! can’t wait to read your next post on getting in touch with our feelings? by the way, is there a difference between feelings and emotions?

Mark Ivar Myhre April 23, 2012 at 7:35 pm

Is there a difference between feelings and emotions? Yes.

Emotions are a package of thoughts and feelings.

‘Emotions’ – that’s the label we put on what we think and feel.

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