Learning that feelings are normal.
Growing up in dysfunctional families, transcenders usually learn that feeling are not only, not okay, they have seen feelings acted-out in horrible, crazy, terrifying ways which usually brought more trauma and pain. They fear that they are going to act like their parents if they feel their feelings.
In therapy, a major learning is that all feelings are normal, okay and important. The awareness and acceptance of the feelings are the most important elements in healing, growing, and getting to know their authentic self. Feelings can be fused together, that is, the feeling of anger may also have fused with it, jealousy, hurt, etc. These feelings must be identified and a more appropriate way created to express them.
Here is an example:
Tiffany: “In my family, anger and happiness were the only feelings allowed. So, every heavy feeling fused with anger, and the lighter ones were happiness. I worked really hard at separating my fused feelings to figure out what I was really feeling. I loved learning about me and whatever fears I felt. I quickly worked through, because I knew my feelings were the ‘me’ I had been looking for so many years.
“I still remember learning for the first time about feelings, that feelings are not good or bad but just are part of being human. We don’t have to judge them, make them wrong or try to do away with them. We do have to accept feelings and learn about ourselves from them. I further learned that no one can be responsible for anyone else’s feelings but that we were totally responsible for our own.
“I faced many fears about accepting my feelings, especially the ones that surprised me: ‘What would my parents thing?’ ‘How would people respond to having real feelings and having opinions that come from those feelings?’ ‘Would I still be loved if I didn’t care about others’ feelings?’ and the questions run on. What the feelings taught me was to treat myself and to work with myself gently and lovingly. The abuse had already been done.”
HOW TO HELP
- Feelings need to be felt so they are not acted out and decisions are not based on them. They need to be felt appropriately and have absolute priority in therapy because they are the road map to healing. The therapist/other must make feelings the priority in therapy. This helps and enables them to accept themselves and everything that was and it.
- For transcenders, it is vital to learn that feelings are normal and how to express them appropriately. This is sometimes difficult since they have seen these feelings acted-out in such dysfunctional ways, especially anger.
- It’s important to help the transcender overcome the fear of feeling their feelings and learn how to express them appropriately.
- Teach clients they can trust themselves with their feelings.
- It takes diligent detective work by the therapist and transcender to begin to separate and identify fused feelings.