Many who have come to the TMSWiki have asked how they can get in touch with their feelings. I found an article about this that can help explain how to do this. I was written by a psychotherapist but I don't know his or her name. I hope you find it helpful. “Why,” you ask, “should I be in touch with my feelings?” The phrase about being in touch with our feelings has been around as long as psychotherapy. But what does it mean exactly? Aren’t we having feelings all the time? Yes, but sometimes the feelings we think we’re having aren’t the feelings we’re really having. Maybe you find yourself angry at another person. Almost everything he does or says pisses you off. “He’s so full of himself,” you are thinking. “I wish he’d just go jump in a lake!” He happens to be a very good looking and popular man who has a great sense of style, qualities you lack. The feeling you’re not in touch with, the one you wouldn’t want to touch with a 10-foot laser, is the jealousy that lurks underneath your anger. Being out of touch with the jealousy may cause you to be inappropriately angry. Being in touch, on the other hand, might preclude the anger or at least prevent it from getting out of control. Being in touch allows you to have healthy relationships with yourself and others. When you are in touch, you are grounded; you know yourself in the classical sense. You’re aware of how your feelings impact your thoughts and actions. Knowing that, you can better ascertain how you and your feelings will interact with other people and their feelings. Hence you’ll relate to people with a minimum of conflict. Freud referred to neurotic defense mechanisms as ways we try to avoid being in touch with feelings. When an alcoholic uses denial, one of the defense mechanisms, to avoid taking responsibility for his drinking problem, the problem gets worse. He is not only denying that he has a drinking problem, he is refusing to get in touch with the feelings that underlie the addiction, feelings such as anger, sadness, or shame; these feelings need to be resolved but can’t be resolved as long as he stays out of touch with them. Most often it is anger that people are not in touch with. I have had many clients who bring in dreams full of anger, but are clueless about the extent of the anger inside them. For example, a client might have dreams about people who betray him, about sharks that surround him in the water and threaten to eat him, about friends who do not listen to him. A client might be furious at his bosses and see them as rigid and unable to see any point of view but their own. He may also see his wife or girlfriend that way. And he may eventually see his therapist that way. A client will begin to be critical of the psychotherapist’s method. The client finds his method too rigid, too impersonal. Or it is too loose and without boundaries. Or it is hypocritical. This critical attitude stems from his general anger at authority figures. He is convinced of the distrust of authorities and looks for reasons to be angry. But eventually this free-floating anger may come out inappropriately and jeopardize his job. The client will usually reveal at some point the source of his anger. It may be that his parents were intolerably rigid or fundamentally religious and could not empathize with their children A client may have been sexually abused. A client may have been beaten. The client will talk of these things in passing but not want to dwell on them or work through the feelings. He doesn’t want to blame his parents. However, if the client does not work through the source of his anger—that is, if he doesn’t get in touch with his feelings—he will act them out in his life. A client has a passive-aggressive or avoidance disorder that is greatly curtailing his functioning. As a passive aggressive he cannot express anger directly (perhaps because his parents were intolerant of direct expressions of anger) so it leaks out sideways and messes up his relationships. If he has an avoidance disorder, he avoids anything that smacks of rejection in order to control (and not get in touch with) his feelings. A client may have a paranoid disorder in which she always thinks people are watching and talking about her. She complains about going to work each day and hearing people chattering and laughing at her. What she is not in touch with is the deeper sadness and anger about her overbearing father or mother that she has repressed. She uses the defense mechanism of splitting in order to protect her ideal image of her parents. Because she’s not in touch, she feels self-conscious about always being watched and is painfully shy, which makes matters worse. These are just some of the many ways people are not in touch with feelings. In all cases, when we aren’t in touch with feelings, we act them out, over and over again.in an endless cycle. A father comes home and displaces his anger with his boss on his children and rationalizes (another defense mechanism) that he is doing it because they need discipline. The key to change lies in getting in touch with our anger and how it is causing us to misinterpret our world and react inappropriately. To get in touch with the anger, we must understand where it originally came from—that is, the situations in our life that originally bred it. Often getting in touch with the most essential source of anger is the greatest resistance to the treatment. It is not always anger that one hides from; sometimes it is irrational fear or persistent jealousy or a deep sense of inadequacy or shame. Whatever the feelings are, they need to be uncovered.