The Basics #2: Your Natural Feelings

What every eight-year-old should know and most adults have never been taught about the emotions that run our lives.
by Tony Schirtzinger, LCSW,

The Natural, Real Feelings

Feelings that start in our senses are natural responses to the real world. When we notice real anger, or sadness, or scare, we notice that something is wrong in our lives. When we notice real joy or excitement we notice that something is right in our lives. Natural feelings are always trustable. Learn what they are saying to you. Use them well.

Types Of Feelings

There are five natural and necessary feelings: Sad, Mad, Glad, Scared and Excited. There are many other unnatural and unnecessary feelings - and all of them cause problems. Guilt, shame, and imagined fear are by far the most common and troublesome of these. ("The Basics #3" is about these.)

Three Huge Questions That Affect Our Feelings

When any feeling starts we are immediately faced with three huge questions - and we tend to automatically answer them in less than a second:

  1. Will you admit to yourself what you are feeling? If you don't, you'll feel "out of touch" or "crazy" or uncentered
  2. Will you express the feeling either alone or with someone else? If you don't, you are giving up the chance for relief.
  3. Will you take action to improve things? If you don't, you are giving up the chance to improve your future.
When we are having problems, we need to slow down this automatic process so that it takes longer than a second or two. This will allow us to think through each step instead of relying on old habits.

The Five Natural Feelings

Use this information so you will always know what you want and feel.
The Feeling:When You Feel It:What To Do First:What To Do Next:
SadnessWhen you've lost something, or when something important is missing from your life. Feel it through thoroughly, to notice how important the loss was.Work to replace what you've lost or what is missing.
Anger / "Mad"When there is a block between you and what you want.Feel it through thoroughly, to notice how powerful you are.Work toward getting past the block powerfully, wisely, and safely.
Fear / ScaredWhen your existence is threatened.Feel it immediately - in a second or less - and notice the danger.Tune into your senses (what you see, hear, smell, taste or feel in your body) and protect yourself!
ExcitementWhen you are on your way to something you want. Feel it through thoroughly, to notice how good you feel about what's coming.Enjoy it for the fun of it!
JoyWhen you've got what you want. Feel it through thoroughly, so you notice how happy you are and how good you are at getting what you want. Enjoy it for the fun of it!

How To Find Each Feeling In Your Body

  1. Remember a time when you felt each feeling very strongly.
  2. Recall what was going on when you felt the feeling so strongly. Remember it in enough detail so that you actually start to feel the feeling again.
  3. Notice where, in your body, you feel each emotion. (Find your "sad spot," your "angry spot," etc.)
  4. Describe what you feel in your body. Use adjectives like tight, weak, empty, heavy, light, etc.
  5. Remember what you learn by doing this. Do this exercise over a few times if needed.

You will need this information to know who you are and what you want and to make every decision you will ever make.

Other articles by Tony Schirtzinger, LCSW:

Tony Schirtzinger LCSW Basics 1: Your Needs And Wants
Basics 2: Your Natural Feelings
Basics 3: Your Unnatural Feelings

Problem Solving 1: Roadblocks
Problem Solving 2: Defining The Problem
Problem Solving 3: Six Aspects Of A Problem

Tony Schirtzinger, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and a trainer of therapists and counselors. He has over 35 years experience working with depression, anxiety, adults who suffered abuse in childhood, delinquency and criminality, parenting, teenagers, and dissociation. He offers email advice and telephone counseling, as well as in-person appointments in Milwaukee, WI. More of his articles can be found at