1. How often throughout the day did you find yourself being critical or judgmental of others? Of yourself?
2. Where you able to identify any primary feelings that went along with the critical behaviors/anger?
3. Where the primary feelings familiar? Do you remember feeling them throughout your life or, perhaps, when you were much younger?
If you had a hard time identifying primary feelings, then continue doing the homework mentioned in Part 2 of ‘Woah, woah, woah feelings’, and try and answer the first question above. I can add a bit of help. Try and identify the language of the judgment or criticism. If you imagined or even said things like; “Can’t you ever get anything right?”, “You are so selfish”, All you ever think about is yourself!” or “You are ugly!” the language can point to the feeling.
Let’s use the criticism “Can’t you ever get anything right!” This judgment refers to you or another as 'incompetent'. So, the next step is to use the word from the criticism 'incompetent' as the feeling. Perhaps you are feeling incompetent. Some primary feelings that relate to incapability and incompetence are, weak helpless and powerless. Say these words to yourself and notice if you get more of an intense feeling with one of them.
Let’s try one more example. How about, “You are so selfish. All you ever think about is yourself!” How many times have you been waiting in line or the subway or driving somewhere and had another person either move in front of you or become very demanding. Well, you might say something like, “That person is so selfish!” Let’s take the descriptive criticism, 'selfish'. You are firstly, angry that this person feels they are more important than others, more personally, you. You might think or even respond, “Who do they think they are? I’m just as important and I am not getting special treatment”. Although this may be true, the criticism is an opportunity to look at your own feelings. The more accurate statement about yourself is “I’m not getting special treatment”. Perhaps you really wish you could get special treatment or maybe it’s more about a lack of feeling valued or worthy. So, the criticism and judgment, again, point the way to the primary feeling of worthless.
Working With Your Primary Feelings.
Now that you have a better understanding of some of your primary feelings it is your job to take care of these feelings. When you are judgmental or critical of others or yourself, then you can bet there are primary feelings that are not being given their due respect. You have to care for and respect these feelings by firstly, tolerating them. Yes, you have to actually feel your feelings of weakness, or powerlessness or unworthiness. One way to tolerate primary feelings is to breathe through them and be patient or journal and describe what you feel as you experience them. You can describe the feeling, or discuss what happens to your body such as weakness in your knees or your heart hurts, etc. Another good way to begin to feel primary feelings is to talk to a therapist about them. The point is to uncover these feelings and air them out. Give your feelings the respect they need. Chances are, they haven’t been met with caring and that’s why they get covered up by anger and judgment.
Next, use your primary feelings to make decisions about yourself. If I am feeling powerless right now, how can I care for myself so I don’t continue being powerless or impose those feelings on others? I can leave the scene, I can express that I didn’t like what happened and that I am angry. If it is a person that I love, I can communicate how I feel. Try and catch yourself straying from 'I' statements to 'You' statements. You statements are a sure sign you are not feeling your own feelings. Work with your primary feelings to improve your sense of well being and success.
So, next time you are walking in the subway and someone cuts in front of you to get into the train, before you engage in the old behavior of acting out your anger by screaming or bullying, you may identify powerlessness and start to support the feeling by journaling or giving yourself some positive words like, “I don’t need to bully this person to feel powerful. I can feel powerful by taking control of my own feelings”