Feelings! Legitimate Or Not
wpedon id=8560

About the Author

author photo

Thomas Franklin is new (11-17) to thefiresidepost.com. He has no experience with being published as an author. He has a fondness for reading and an appreciation of words. His curiosity is insatiable. He carries the burdens of his youth like Marley dragging his chains of bad deeds. The difference is that Marley's burdens were a result of his behavior. Life just happened to Mr. Franklin. These life burdens shall be the topic of Mr. Franklin's writing. Be kind for he is quite sensitive.

See All Posts by This Author

Feelings! Legitimate Or Not

In cognitive behavioral treatment we learn to think, then feel, then act.  Some folks get into trouble when they feel, act, then think.  My personal notion is that we always think first; the question is why do we think such negative thoughts that result in hurt feelings and thus bad behavior?

I did four years of outpatient counseling at Mennigner’s Clinic in Topeka, Kansas.  My counselor was Dr. Don Shoulberg.  He was a double doctorate with two Ph.D.’s in theology and family dynamics.  He was the leading professional in Bowenian Family Therapy.  Dr. Shouldberg kept a genealogy chart on a flip chart for each of his patients.  I would be in the waiting room and at exactly on the hour he would open the door and invite me in.  The flip chart with my family genealogy was already set up.

The squares were male and the circles female.  But this chart was not just about whom belonged to whom. Listed beside each name was their education level, their work skills, their employment history, their faith system (what church), whether they were strong in faith or just acquaintances.  Where were each of them in the birth order.   The point was to examine what each person brought to the family system.  What were the unspoken family values?  Was the faith system mainstream or fringe?  Was education valued?  How about loyalty?:  Was science respected?  Each of us grew up in an environment unique to us – even siblings – because our birth order was different we thus interpreted our environment with a different point of view.

Doctor Schouldberg had a three phase approach to any problem.  We first examined the family system, looking for unspoken bias, if the problem was not there then we looked at my cognitive ability.  (how well do I think). With good cognitive skills and no environmental bias and problems remain we are forced to look at biochemical brain development.  You only got meds from Shoulberg when all other possibilities were ruled out.

So the point is this:  When an event happens to us or around us – how do we interpret that event and thus how do we feel – thus leading to how we act.  If we know our familial biases then we might be able to divert disaster.  We might discover better ways to manage problems.

In my case, for instance, my grandparents were not educated and they belonged to fringe faith systems, like 7th Day Adventist or Mormon as opposed to Methodist or Catholic.  I have to note here that none of my siblings belong to any mainstream faith system – they are all in the fringe elements.  This is not a judgement so much as an observation.  Shoulberg asserted that if we understand our biases consciously then we might be able to overcome them and make better life choices.

Shouldberg was very big on legitimate feelings versus illegitimate feelings.  An example:  A man and woman marry.  They both work.  He gets home around 5:10 in the evening and she arrives about 5:15.  He starts preparing supper.  When she arrives she helps.  They have supper around 6:00 PM and then they do the dishes together and then relax for the evening.  After about a years he arrives home and starts supper – the phone rings and it is his wife explaining that she has to work until 6:00 PM but will be home shortly thereafter.  He puts the phone down and begins to weep with tears of jealousy, believing that she is not working late but seeing another man.

His feelings of jealousy are very real.  They are not justified based on the facts so we say these feelings, however real, are illegitimate.  Facts are important.  When we are feeling overwhelmed we must examine the facts.  We must legitimize our feelings with the truth.  Facts matter.  Details matter.

As I write about my life, searching for the clues of my adult being, I try to honor facts.  Reflecting on life does no good if we stay with the old interpretations.  We must sort through the facts and be clear if we are to learn the truth.  For me, writing the stories of my youth help me see more clearly.

Shouldberg recommended I talk to my parents about their youth.  He recommended I talk to my parent’s siblings – ask them about my parents as children.  I did this one day when my Aunt Genevieve was visiting.  She and I and my father and mother were sitting at the kitchen table at my parents house.  I said, “Aunt Genevieve, tell me something about my father as a youth.”

“By guy Frankie,” (she said things like ‘by guy’) “Remember when you was about 13 and Daddy and Mary’s husband got you down on the ground and poured whiskey down your throat and got you drunk?”  My father’s face turned red and steam came out of his ears.  He sat and said nothing..

WOW!!  What did I learn that would help me to understand my father – and thus better understand my relationship to my father?

Everything is a continuum – even our family.  We pass values down that we do not even know that we have.  When something happens to us we interpret that with the filter of our family system – then we feel, then we act.  Want to know why we act as we do?  Do some family homework – but be honest.

There Is 1 Response So Far. »

  1. By Guy! Honesty = Truth and I have a family full of those who go to great lengths to avoid it. Painting pretty pictures and wearing rose colored glasses. God help the one who fails to do likewise. I love your honesty and weep at times because of a picture I see of a similar someone I loved and revered (still do) in a light I would never have expected. I tell people that unlike at home, I had a safe haven, where my mess ups were discussed with words not the belt or fist. A sad testament that that same someone would not apply the same action on the closest flesh and blood kin they have. Sometimes I wish I had inherited the ability to see everything through rose colored glasses as my mother always did and seems that was passed on to my siblings. Instead I have been blessed/cursed with a clarity that pains me greatly at times and an inability to sugarcoat for the most part. Part of that ironically comes from an Uncle I greatly respected who managed to get through the fantasies I had been fed regarding my ‘dead’ father. Telling it to me ‘Straight’. I am thankful for the straight out truth and for a lesson in being the same. Although, some have called it ‘Brutal Honesty’ truth standing alone can be and is tough.

Post a Response

%d bloggers like this: