“Don’t allow your mind to tell your heart what to do. The mind gives up easily.” – Paulo Coelho

For many of us, our behaviours are often influenced by our childhood and underpinning those behaviours can often be a feeling of needing to be loved.  The manifestation of that particular ‘feeling’ may well take the form of always striving to achieve – and by being in perpetual ‘doing’ mode – continually trying to prove yourself worthy through what you do. Something I’m sure many of us can recognise in ourselves even if we don’t always realise or acknowledge the cause.

Recognising our feelings is perhaps the first stage in a three-fold process of dealing with feelings. How we deal with those feelings successfully is then second part and if we can do that whilst being mindful of the third step – the feelings of others (as well as ourselves) then we are well on the way to feeling good.

The process of undoing years of engrained thinking patterns and the way we feel about ourselves, our feeling patterns, is hard, with no ‘quick fixes’ but is a path worth travelling.

And one way we might assist this process is to go about setting feelings goals – goals about how we want to feel in our lives.

But firstly…

Why set feelings goals?

We’re probably all aware of the concept of engrained thinking but we might not always think about engrained feelings.

Feelings often bypass the rational mind – and we just find ourselves reacting to them – often in an habitual way –perhaps because feelings tap a more primitive part of the brain.

Setting goals around how we feel then, is a practical way of putting into practice what we’ve talked about in our last two blog posts and podcasts:

Setting feelings goals

So the first thing about setting feeling goals echoes the earlier comment about how ‘it’s hard to undo years of engrained thinking patterns’.

These are long-term feeling goals and as such this is an incremental journey. But a rewarding journey none the less.

And just because its not a quick fix, doesn’t mean it’s ‘unfixable’. Give yourself some time with your feeling goals.

The first step is to identify what you want your feelings goals to be about. What aspect of your feelings do you want to think about?

Different sorts of feelings goals

Do you want to:

  • Feel more, or less, or differently about certain areas of your life
  • Be more aware of your feelings
  • Have greater control of certain feelings
  • Be able to acknowledge them
  • Feel more comfortable and accepting of your feelings
  • Express them better or more openly
  • Tune in to your feelings more so you can use them to your advantage
  • Use your feelings to help you set other goals and achieve more

It might be advisable not to take on too many feeling goals, so it may be you initially decide on one feelings goal and aim for that.

What can you do to think about and create feelings goals?

Here’s 7 ideas to get you started. You don’t have to do them all at once, some you will deliberately set out to do but others will come to mind at different times and situations.

1. Feelings diary

A good way to explore your feelings is to keep a ‘Feelings Diary’. In it you might jot down particular feelings you have, the strength of those feelings, what prompted you to those particular feelings, how you responded to them and indeed how you might respond to them more appropriately moving forward.

Or note down at key moments in the day, what your body is telling you about how you are feeling at that moment.

Through doing this you come to recognise underlying situations or themes to the way you feel on a day-to-day basis.

2. Change the way you talk about your feelings

Be personal in your conversation, rather than using generalised statements based on what you think you should feel, or even what you think others should feel. Instead of expressing yourself in terms of ‘you’, ‘one’ or ‘they’, make a connection with how you really feel, by using ‘I’. E.g. Right now, I am feeling…

In other words, speak for yourself not others.

3. Reflect on your feelings

We can only really understand what we’re feeling and the effect of those feelings on us, if we take the time to regularly reflect on our feelings.

Give yourself a moment in the day, perhaps before you drop off to sleep to have those thoughts.

4. Spend time with people who accept your emotions

We hopefully all have people in our lives that accept us for who we are, and with whom we can share our emotions and feelings.

Prioritise your time by spending it with the people who’re supportive of your emotions and with whom you can share your feelings.

5. Conversations around feelings

When I was younger, a friend and I used to have classifications of how we conversed with people. Essentially, conversations were divided into Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 type conversations.

Level 1 conversations – were small talk. The weather, the football scores, whatever and it surprising in life how often our conversations with key people in our lives essentially stay at this level – the level of small talk. We always have similar conversations and they do not stray onto unsafe territory – whatever that might mean.

To have more meaningful conversations, however, we have to switch up a level, to level 2.

Level 2 conversations – were typically more intellectual conversations. Conversations about religion, history, politics, view on women’s rights, to name but a few and here you get more of a sense of what a person is like and the commonality of your views with that person.

Level 2 conversations can be more heated, particularly if there is disagreement. But you certainly get an idea of what a person is like from these types of conversation – including if you are going to share or differ in your opinions. Once again, many conversations with people in life do not stray beyond level 1 and 2, but you probably feel you know people better who you have had level 2 type conversations with on a regular basis.

Certainly these level 2 conversations do reveal more about you, albeit on an intellectual level.

Level 3 type conversations are on another different level again – conversations of emotion and feelings. Here you reveal a lot more about yourself – personal stuff, stuff you might only reserve for your closest friends.

Rather than dive in and reveal everything about yourself – which can be a little overpowering – you might test an initial Level 3 type conversation with a person, by revealing a small intimacy or personal fact and seeing how the conversation went with that person – did they respond by revealing a little bit more personal stuff about themselves? Or did they keep on safer territory?

Although this might seem trivial, or just a bit of fun, in fact it is quite an interesting statement on the nature of our relationships.

Do you always conduct your life on the safer grounds?

If you believe that might be the case for you, try deliberately revealing a little more (shifting to Level 2 or Level 3 type conversation) when you’re next chatting with someone who you know quite well but have always had the same type of conversation with and just gently explore and observe the response.

In the lovely book The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery, there’s a lovely quote which says:

“One runs the risk of weeping a little if one allows himself to be tamed” – The Little Prince

But I firmly believe it is a risk worth taking. Who knows it could be the start of a wonderful new deeper relationship?

6. Write an open letter

If you think you might have difficulty expressing your feelings person to person, another useful little technique is the open letter.

Write down in a letter to a friend, a partner or even yourself, what you’re feeling about something. And don’t worry, you don’t even have to send it (though you could if you feel able) – the act of writing it down will help to clarify the feeling and may help you realise what you want to achieve from expressing the feelings in writing.

7. Letting go

If you have difficulty expressing your feelings, try letting go a little more. Little by little, see how emotionally expressive you can be. View it, if it is easier, as an experiment – though the idea is to explore feelings rather than totally distance yourself from the process.

So there you have it. 7 ideas to get you started with feelings goals.

What next for your feelings?

Hear what we had to say about ‘Feelings Goals’ in Episode 68 of The Changeability Podcast – an award winning podcast dedicated to help you manage your mind to make changes in your life.

Or let us know what you thought about our 7 suggestions in the comments below.

Alternatively, leave us a voicemail by clicking the pink tab on the left hand side of this page and who knows, your voice may feature in a future episode of our podcast.

I’m rather feeling – you’re spoilt for choice!