Seperate feelings from acts

We need to distinguish between feelings and actions. They are not identical. Each needs its own type of treatment.


In other words they need opposite handling, the one from the other. Whereas heretofore we have lumped them together and have tried to treat them both alike.

Out of this lack of separation many of our failures have grown.

We need to know securely that feeling a thing does not necessarily mean doing a thing.

FEELINGS ARE FACTS but not necessarily ACTS.

Certainly you feel bad when your cake doesn't rise in the baking. But that doesn't mean you have to smash the cake tin. Certainly Pete felt mad when his boss gave the coveted job to someone else. But that didn't mean he had to smash his boss.

Nor did Ann's saying that she wanted to strike her mother dead mean that she had to go ahead and do it.

You can want to buy a painting and yet not buy it. You can want to poison the neighbor for being nasty to your dog and yet never go near a pot of poison. You can feel at times like murdering your children and yet be a perfectly good parent. And so can they feel like murdering you.

Acknowledging the presence of an impulse does not mean that it must be carried out in an act that matches the impulse. The better one can see what the impulse is, the better can one control the actions toward which it pushes.

Young Jed had complained that the car had got going so fast he couldn't handle it.

What he'd implied was that his feelings had got going so fast he couldn't handle them.

Emotion is a powerful force that propels a person to do many untoward things. As we now know, many acts come from the push of feelings that are neither seen nor admitted. Since they are invisible to him, the person may, without even knowing it, let the feelings roll on and gather too much momentum to be comfortably steered. Then when he jams on the brakes, it does little good. He gets into trouble when he tries to maneuver a turn. However, if he first pays proper attention to cutting down the power, then the brakes do hold and he can turn safely into whatever road he chooses.

Just as with the force of the dashing car, so does the force of wild feelings need to be lessened. Then the actions which are geared to them can be more readily steered and controlled.

Facing the presence of the treacherous feelings is a desirable step. It can come best when the feelings have been accorded sufficient acceptance.

Then another step needs to be taken. The push of the feelings needs to be cut down.

In the talks Jed had with the counselor who accepted his feelings, he had been able to "spill" out again and again. He'd been able to bring out his anger, unreasonable though it was. Whether real or fancied, it had to travel along some outgoing path in order for him to do three things:

to face his feelings
to reduce their force
to control his behavior.

Spilling briefly just once didn't do it. It seldom does. For the moment, perhaps. But, since the teenager's feelings have been long accumulating, they usually need more prolonged and repeated discharge.

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