Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Importance of Feeling Our Feelings

Half the information we get from the world comes from our thinking, the other half comes from our feelings. When we cut ourselves off from our feelings (narcissism), we are cut off from half the information available to us in our world. By cutting off from our feelings, we cut off from the messages of our internal self.

No one outside of ourselves can control our feelings. Others may influence our thoughts and thinking, but our feelings emanate solely out of the core of our being. They are completely created within us. Our feelings are completely our own. They give us a sense of independence from others and define us as separate individuals. When we cut ourselves off from our feelings, we take away from our sense of independence. ‘

We lose our sense of personal independence when we cut off from our feelings because our only remaining information source, thinking, is vulnerable to the influence of the world around us. Thinking can be influence by others. When we are cut off from our feelings, we can only express our feelings through anger or maudlin sentimentality. Any other expression seems to threaten our sense of security. Those two expressions of feelings are then viewed as the only acceptable expression of feeling.

We can cut off from our feelings because they feel messy or they make us feel vulnerable or, for some reason, we were punished for feeling and expressing them when we were children. As a result, we cut off from our feelings to protect ourselves from feeling bad. Protecting ourselves by restricting feelings that make us feel bad, we become more dependent on our thinking for information about our world. Being more dependent on our thinking, we become more protective of it, which can lead to hostility with others if we feel they are threatening our sense of independence by influencing our thinking.

When thinking becomes the sole way of relating to the world, any feeling other than anger or sentimentality seems to threaten our sense of stability. We then shuttle our messy feelings farther and farther away from our awareness to protect ourselves from the discomfort they carry with them. The vulnerability we feel from our feelings is then seen as a threat to our independence. As we depend on thinking more and more, we grow more and more vulnerable to the influence of others affecting our thinking. This causes us to increasingly withdraw from connection with others. Thus, our efforts to protect ourselves by cutting off from feelings actually causes us to feel increasingly more vulnerable in the world as it causes us to withdraw from connection to others.

This vulnerability and the resulting disconnect from our world can be completely reversed by open up to our feelings. When we open up to our feelings, we are able to experience and express a greater range of emotion. We are then able to process information through our feelings as well as through our thoughts. Our feelings are generated solely within ourselves. No one else is in control of or responsible for our feelings. They are solely our own and allow us to feel a sense of independence over ourselves in our world.

Understanding and experiencing our range of feelings gives us more information about our world and in turn, because they emanate solely from us, we feel a greater sense of independence and differentiation from others. We don’t feel so vulnerable to others when we are able to recognize and value our feelings.

For more information on getting in touch with your feelings, log onto or for more information on self-help downloads, and to listen to free samples, log onto The Dr. Walton Series at Check out the Free Affirmations.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Hidden Bias... the secret stumbling block

On Friday, the House passed the Gender-based Pay Discrimination Act for victims to sue for more money and require employers to meet a higher standard to justify pay disparities. This is an important piece of legislation to combat an insidious type of sexism that has been embedded deeply within the national consciousness. Many employers will find this legislation offensive because they do not think of themselves as sexist at all.

However, as the economy gets worse, we will see more sexism, along with all of the other "isms," coming out of the closet as well (statistics). The interesting thing is that the people who are sexist don't actually see themselves in that light at all. They have a sexist bias that is actually hidden from their awareness. They perceive themselves as behaving in a forthright and honest manner and see themselves as good people who would never be sexist. They are blind to their own sexist behavior. In other words, they believe that they would never “not hire” someone because they were a woman, or for that matter a man. However, they rationalize their not hiring of a particular individual (because of a sexist bias) by hyper-focusing on the detractors of that individual. These same detractors would be given less emphasis on someone with whom they did not experience a sexist bias.

This is called a confirmation bias. We use this bias to confirm our unconscious desired outcome. In the process, we unconsciously seek out the proof to support our bias while ignoring any contrary data. We believe we can’t be biased because we are “good guys” and therefore any reason we have for not accepting the other person is attribute to the evidence we have selectively culled out to form our opinion. This process is known as self-justification.

Their bias causes them to have a tendency to judge their recipient more harshly than another, although the biased individual is blind to this behavior. Their internal bias would have them ultimately reject the candidate out of the system for "other" reasons for which they feel well justified. This includes pay raises. This makes the bias self-reinforcing and therefore they never see that they are acting in a biased manner. They see themselves as being right and feel that any reasonable person would agree with their "rightness." To them, anyone who disagrees with their way of thinking is obviously not seeing the situation clearly.

In that same vein, we tend to hire and promote people who remind us of ourselves. In second place, we will hire and promote people who try to emulate us. For that reason, employers are frequently biased in their hiring, promoting and pay raise practices even when they sincerely protest such accusations. They, like most of us, are blind to their biases.

How do we know if we are biased? That is a very difficult thing to ascertain all on your own. Generally, these biases are blind spots in our personality that we just don’t see without some type of external source reflecting them back to us. The best way to discover biases is to talk to your friends. Ask them about their impressions of you and any biases they might detect. Also, listen very closely to criticisms you might receive from others. Criticisms often carry important information about the parts of ourselves that we don’t want to acknowledge. This information can have value even if it’s delivered in a negative way. The more reactive you are to the criticism, the more you may need to pat attention to what’s being said.

The way to overcome your newly discovered biases is to put aside your self-justifications and take responsibility for your behavior and address the problem.

For more information on understanding bias log onto or for more information on self-help downloads, and to listen to free samples, log onto The Dr. Walton Series at