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Carl Lindstrom

The Feeling Dictionary 

Painting by Christopher Lindstrom


Do you feel something you should not feel?

The human feeling-system is a finely tuned instrument for perceiving all sorts of complex situations. Sadly this system can be damaged, both accidentally and on purpose by manipulative dictates of "how we are supposed to feel" in response to mainly social situations. These (often interest-serving) "axioms" can be implemented on a large scale and masquerade as "culture"... see secrecy  

As a general rule, we all take too many instructions from the outside about the meaning of our own feelings. Sadly, a lot of people have a vested interest in how we feel , either for their own benefit or relaying what the "the culture" has "instructed us to feel" in response to situations regarding governing us i.e. that we all are expected to feel patriotism (almost regardless of what the top of power strata is up to). We are also expected to believe in imaginary beings to maintain the pretense of us all having a religion. So lying about your real feelings has not only become the social grease that makes relationships "easier", it has also become the proof that we are loyal, obedient citizens that accept the rules of the game that we as citizens are expected to play. Since the authorities cannot easily change how you really feel, they will try to tell you "what you should feel", especially if your true feelings reflect badly on them.

Then if people have power over us (being parents, teachers, employers), it will be very difficult to not let their interest impact you and over time, we might come to think that what we ourselves feel is "wrong". This is especially true when we are young and once we have taken that to us it can be very difficult to break a habitual stance.

During decades of experiencing feelings in different cultures, this web site was created to point at a poorly understood mechanism. It proposes that authority always seem to shape culture by proclaiming correct or preferred reactions to various situations. I believe this is a prime way of manipulating opinion.

Recent examples of how political authority under President Donald Trump, demands feelings like patriotism or demands reverence for a narrow religious bias and concomitantly creates fear of non-adherence, have stunned many people. Such demands can successfully be made under fear -- i.e. when we have been made or manipulated to feel afraid -- when fear is heightened in a group, we are more easily shamed into obedience. Hitler knew about and used that phenominon almost like a law of physics.

When we feel free and safe to 'feel what we feel', not necessarily to "act what we feel", but to receive, acknowledge and endevour to understand our feelings and their origin, we are stimulated to increase communication and understanding. Conversely, fear of punitive authority and deception, forces both communication and understanding underground... the hallmark of dictatorial regimes.

With this dictionary, we try to bring basic feelings back to basic situations -- no shoulds. There is no better way of doing this than to study very young children: how do they react to situations, what are their feelings informing them of ? and how do they express those feelings ?

When you read the feeling definitions, think of them as the gift of information that your body provides. How we act on this information is up to each individual in accordance with competence, knowledge, goals, courage, determination etc. But be aware that those who have an interest to lead you in the direction of their interest (politicians, priests, spindoctors, teachers or experts in general) will attempt to define those feelings for you. So read, as always, with discrimination and see what rings true for you.