On A Thing Called Feelings

On A Thing Called Feelings


Letter 5

Why Do I Cry?

How are you feeling today, dear Julian?

I hope you’re feeling very happy today, because we’re going to talk about how wonderful crying is. Crying is what happens when salty drops of water drip out of your eyes, sliding down your face. These drops are called tears and they come naturally when we have intense feelings of some kind.

I know that may sound strange. Isn’t crying a sign that we’re sad? Well, it can be. (Sometimes we cry because we’re happy too.) But the real reason we cry is because of something called feelings – and they’re part of what makes life worth living, dear Julian. You cry, I cry, your mum and daddy cry too. It’s only natural. I have a rule for myself that says “when someone drops a tear, hug them.” 

Inside our bodies that you and I and everyone else live in, there are sensations that can’t be explained through the five senses as we know them – yet they are still so real that we can’t escape them. In fact, when they occur, they can completely swamp us, and seem to become the most important thing in the world

These sensations have to do with more than just the body itself.

These feelings (or emotions, to give them their proper name) are tied up with our experiences, personal thoughts and desires. They’re triggered because something affects us deeply and meaningfully – which is why feelings are always worth listening to, because they’re a sign we’ve discovered something important about ourselves.

All these things get mixed up inside us, and can easily feel overwhelming. Understanding and guiding our emotions can be the work of a lifetime – and it’s different for everyone. I can’t explain to you what your emotions will feel like inside you, my dear Julian, because they’ll be a little different to how I feel mine. All I can do is assure you how real and important they are – and how they’re always worth listening to.

Sometimes you’ll be able to feel them in specific parts of your body. It’s common to get feelings in the stomach, like excitement or nervousness about something important (we call this “butterflies”, because it’s like a fluttering sensation deep inside us.

Other times you’ll feel something in your chest, where your heart is, and where people used to say that feelings of love came from (before scientists said the brain is more important for feeling love). I still like the heart theory better though! Or a mix of them both.

You will learn about feeling happy, and about feeling sad. About feeling nervous or scared. About feeling sick, or excited, or that of feeling in a dream. There will be anger, annoyment and emptiness. And there will be pride and a sense of accomplishment, of having done something that makes a difference for the things and the people you care about.

Feelings are often labelled “positive” or “negative”. However I’d rather not call them any of that. The word negative adds a lot of darkness and unnecessary fear – and all feelings are natural and healthy, even the ones that upset us intensely. 

I like to think of feelings as inner guides. 

Even when they make us cry, they are trying to help. They’re trying to tell us something important. I trust my feelings like nothing else. I trust them to guide me and tell me things that can’t be said through words an by anyone else than me – and I try to listen to them carefully, in the way I hope you’ll listen to yours too. 

While we’re talking about feelings, we should talk about thoughts too, dear Julian – because the two things usually fit perfectly together, like hands and gloves, or shoes and feet.

Our thoughts are often feelings in action, moving across our minds and leaving us changed. When we daydream, staring out of the window and letting our minds wander, we’re drifting on a sea of feelings (and sometimes it’s easy to just drift and drift like this, which is why daydreaming is so much fun).

Thoughts can make us feel powerful – but also weak, if we feel like we have no control over them. It’s vital to learn and to be taught how to know and manage our thoughts and our feelings, because they have such a huge impact over our sense of identity and wellbeing. You might hear at some point that feelings are only for girls and that boys shouldn’t cry, but that’s not true, my boy. Every single human has and will always have feelings, whether you’re a boy or a girl, a kid or an adult. Let yours flow and love them all! Don’t ever forget this. It’s important.

Yet the overall truth is that no matter how good we get at guiding those feelings, they will always have the ability to dictate the way we live and experience life. What we think and feel is everything. If we pretend our feelings are unimportant and don’t try to guide them, we end up miserable. 

This is probably the most important thing anyone can learn about living a happy life, my little one.

So – how about you start practicing right now? Put this book down, take a deep breath, and ask yourself: “how am I feeling right now?”

How are you feeling today, dear Julian?

I love you! (Love is probably the most beautiful and most important feeling of all.)

This is a blog series after my book called Dear Julian: Welcome Letters To The World. Feel free to follow the series here on the blog or  buy the Kindle version on Amazon. Thanks for your support!

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