Written by: Rachel Rubenstein, LCSW

 Feelings! We write songs about feelings. Art is created about joy, sadness and everything in between. And…all humans have feelings! Just as natural as blood flowing in our body; feelings, too, flow through our minds.

So, what is a feeling? We are not always taught exactly what feelings are, how to express them and that all feelings are natural parts of being alive. Ever get angry? Normal. Ever felt jealous? Normal. It’s not the actual feelings we experience that can be the most difficult part of emotions; it’s how we deal with those feelings, especially the harder emotions.

Feelings are emotions that often lead to an urge and sometimes an action. This is normal. When we think about what we can do in response to the feeling to alleviate distress or encourage happiness, we are able to better manage our feelings and get healthy positive results. How do we do this? A good start is awareness of how you actually feel. If you are aware of how you feel, you will be more ready to deal with the emotion and the situation. Do you remember a time you felt sad, angry, jealous, joy or afraid? There are so many emotions to explore and they are normal, even the ones we’d rather not experience. Feelings are indicators of what is important to us. Emotions help define our values and steer our decisions. Angry at a friend? Likely to mean you care for that person or what they said or did.

So, now what? You have these feelings, sometimes they are big and rather unpleasant. Many things can contribute to the feeling(s) you experience, especially the more challenging ones like fear and sadness. We call these emotional factors “vulnerabilities” and include things like a bad night’s sleep, junk food (sorry), trauma or a difficult past and many other things. We call them vulnerabilities because they put you at a higher risk of experiencing a challenging emotion.

Feelings are complicated and there are so many factors to how we feel. Did you know we have multiple experiences when feeling our emotions? Internally (inside our body) we may have a stomach ache or feel “our blood boil” when angry. Feeling happiness or joy might be experienced by a fluttering heart (that may be an actual increased heart rate!). Externally (what others might see) we might express anger with clenched fists or we may even turn red in the face.

Feelings are real!…and feelings are so important. Feelings, in fact, are like a faucet. If you turn off the “feeling faucet” and stop feeling one feeling…you stop feeling all feelings. Emotional numbness can seem easier in the moment but in the long run you cut yourself short of the good feelings too (like happiness, excitement and joy). Ever seen the movie “Inside Out?” They do a great job at describing all the feelings a person might have. It’s a great summer watch.

Want to learn more about feeling the feels, managing and understanding your feelings, learning new tools to manage and guide your feelings and creating more understanding of yourself? Seek out the support of a professional mental health provider, talk to a friend, your family or trusted adult. You got this, Girl!


Rachel Rubenstein, LCSW is an Arizona based Mental Health provider and owner of The Counseling Consultants, PLLC, a group of licensed Mental Health professionals serving kids and adults with a variety of Mental Health Wellness needs.