How do you want to feel?

This is an important question I do not think we ask of ourselves enough.  Not only do we not ask of ourselves, How do I feel?  But neither do we ask, How do I want to feel?

It is easy to forget that when all is said and done, I and I alone am responsible for how I feel.  Period.

Whether or not I feel good or bad, happy or sad, anxious or excited, frustrated or stimulated, I am the only one who can feel what I am feeling as I am feeling it, and I am the only one who can decide if I want to feel it.

Despite this, we still readily believe that others have the power to affect our feelings. You make me so mad; that crazy politician enrages me; you’ve made me happier than I ever thought possible; you make me feel joy and so on and so forth.  While others can most certainly influence the way we feel, they are unable to make us feel anything at all.

It all falls upon each of us individually.  Nobody but me makes me feel happy, sad, anxious, tense, excited and so on.  If I am feeling contented, that is what I am experiencing for myself.  If I am feeling anxious, that is not because someone else placed that feeling upon me, it is simply my current emotional state of being.

We live all-too-frequently in this residual experience.  Because we often neglect to simply live in the now, we are a product of who we were then, whether then is minutes, hours, days or even years ago.  Often right now what we are feeling about ourselves is a residual matter based on the past.

If you don’t believe me, let me illuminate the concept for you.  At some point in the past let’s say you went to your mom and dad to ask for more allowance money.  Let’s say that not only did they say no, they also yelled at you for not keeping your room clean.  Fast forward years later to your first job.  You think you are deserving, and go ask the boss for a raise.  Not only does he say no, he yells at you about a project that isn’t even yours, but gives you no chance to get a word in edgewise, and denies you.

Today you woke up feeling anxious.  The butterflies are making your stomach queasy, and you are feeling completely off.  Today is the day your current boss is having that meeting with you, and that promotion and subsequent pay raise are on the line.  Given the previously mentioned past events, why do you think you are feeling this anxiety?  Is it really about today’s situation, or is it based on your past experiences?

When we are able to recognize this for what it is, we can begin to ask How do I want to feel? of ourselves.  We can see that the feelings we are having, if they do not suit us, can be changed, if we make the choice to change them.

This, however, can be a very difficult process.  Most of us are so used to simply having the feelings we are having and rolling with them that the notion of taking ahold of and actively CHANGING them seems rather foreign.

It certainly feels easier to give the power of how we’ve been made to feel over to others, rather than to take control for ourselves.  Part of this is because it feels easier to place blame than to take responsibility.  Part of this is that believing we can be in control of our own feelings at any time is an alien concept.

How do you get hold and take control of how you are feeling?  That’s part of the challenge.  For me, the process works best with the following steps

  1. Ask – How am I feeling? Get clear on the specific emotion(s) I am experiencing at this moment.
  2. Ask – How do I want to feel? Usually if I am feeling negative, I would prefer to feel positive.
  3. Quiet my mind – I need to reflect on what has brought me to this state, in order to adjust it. This could take just a moment’s pause, or may require a longer meditation.
  4. Release – Rather than hold onto the emotion I do not want, I have to take an action to release it. Wave it goodbye, thank it for protecting me, visualize it sinking into the ground or flying away; some sort of mental action needs to occur to achieve release.
  5. Take action – I choose the emotion I would prefer to feel, and take some sort of action to replace what I don’t want.  That action could be a brisk walk, a brief cry, a primal scream, singing a song, finding something that makes me laugh, etc.  Action is absolutely necessary to drive any change.

Important note: This is NOT a surefire means to an end.  This is the process I work to employ, and it may not work for you.  However, any attempt you do make to take hold of and control your feelings will require some combination of thought, feeling and action.

Everything we want to manifest requires a mix of thought, feeling and action.  We have the gift of these complex emotions, but with it we have the empowerment to be in control of them for ourselves.  Take that into consideration the next time you are not feeling as you might wish to feel.

How do you want to feel?


GOAL LOG – Week 39:

Diet:  I continue to mostly avoid sugar, and I am still working at portioning.

Exercise: Fencing happened twice last week, and I got to the gym once and shot archery.

Writing:  Three days of writing.

Meditation:  I meditated five days, for a minimum of at least 5 minutes.

Gratitude: I wrote five things I was grateful for four of seven days last week.


This is the two-hundred forty-ninth entry in my series. These weekly posts are ideas and my personal experiences in walking along the path of life.  I share this journey as part of my desire to make a difference in this world along the way.

Thank you for joining me.  Feel free to re-blog and share.

The first year of Pathwalking, including some expanded ideas, is available here.

If you enjoy Pathwalking, you may also want to read my Five Easy Steps to Change the World for the Better.