“Feeling some type of way” is a new phrase that makes me lose my mind when I hear it. Whoever wrote that song, I want to have a conversation with you. That song is undoing a lot of work that has been done to help people heal and for them to live emotionally healthy lives. This may sound dramatic, but hear me out.
For most people, it is a struggle to name your feelings. Now, we have a song that talks about feeling “some type of way,” to push you further away from being able to name your feelings. Have you used the phrase “feeling some type of way?” If so, can you please stop using it?
Feeling Some Type of Way
Let me explain why “feeling some type of way” is extremely bothersome to me. As a psychotherapist, so much of my time with clients is spent helping them identify and name their feelings they currently have and that they have experienced throughout their lives. In the last couple of years, I have had several clients use the phrase “feeling some type of way” in their sessions with me.
When I hear that, I follow it up with “What type of way? What feeling are you referring to?” Typically, they are puzzled because they believed it was helpful that they were admitting they were “feeling some type of way.” The problem with that is that there are numerous feelings they could be having. It does not give me any information whatsoever as to what they are actually feeling.
This post is not to just focus on the phrase in that song, but rather to look at the ways society teaches you not to name your feelings. In addition to that, society also teaches us not to show our feelings to others. That’s nothing new, but I want to show you ways that you probably haven’t thought about.
Societal Messages About Not Feeling Your Feelings
Last week I was picking my baby up from pre-K. He got in the car and excitedly told me that he sang “Santa Clause is Coming to Town.” I found the song and played it for him on the way home. I doubt I’ve ever really paid attention to the lyrics and message of that song prior to that day.
Since I am a mom and a psychotherapist, I am very aware of what my baby is learning about feelings. I work very hard to teach him to identify his feelings and express them in a healthy way.
Before you think I am going to blast off about Santa being bad or that song, please know that is not what I am doing. I am simply illustrating ways that we receive messages throughout our lives that teach you not to name your feelings.
You all know that song. It says, “You better not pout. You better not cry, I’m telling you why. Santa Clause is coming to town.” When I played that in my car for my baby, I thought “Whoa! Wait a minute. I have been teaching my baby for over three years that it is okay to cry and this song is telling him the opposite.”
Again, many of you may think it’s a little drastic for me to think that. However, that just shows that we are conditioned to the societal messages that tell you not to name your feelings. I still let my baby sing the song. We sing and play it four hundred and fifty thousand times a day right now because he loves it. It just prompted some thinking on my end about all of the messages we receive about how we should act in response to our feelings.
Another reason the song “Santa Clause is Coming to Town” triggered me is that it was an incredibly tough week for me with regard to what I was feeling and what my family was experiencing. I had three family members in the hospital that week. Being who I am for my family, I was the one whom they talked to about what they were feeling with their medical issues.
One of my family members was crying and telling me how sad and scared he was with the procedures he was having. He said something that I have heard many times and from many people. He said, “I can’t let my wife see me like this. I am trying to be strong for her.”
At the time, I just listened and allowed him to cry and get everything out in a safe place. For me strength is being able to name your feelings and express them in healthy ways. Now, I’m not saying he was weak in any way.
Why Men Hide Their Feelings
What I am saying is that he is a product of society having taught him not to cry or show he was scared or sad. That is why men hide their feelings. They are taught that showing feelings means that they are weak. Men are taught that it is their job to “hold the family together” no matter what is going on.
It’s not my job to teach him otherwise because I am his family member and not his therapist. It’s just sad for me to see the negative messages from society being the reason why men hide their feelings.
That week also brought another opportunity for me to further see in action why men hide their feelings. Another family member is facing a scary diagnosis for his wife that probably does not have a good outcome. He and I were talking about what the doctors told him regarding the prognosis of his wife.
In doing so, he got very teary, as did I. Immediately, he apologized for getting teary. The therapist in me came flying out as I informed him that I would not allow him to apologize for his feelings ever again. He understood why I was saying that, and I gave him a hug.
Results of Hiding Your Feelings
Like my other family member, I’m sure he believes that he is “supposed” to be “strong” for his wife and everybody else. There are two very dangerous ways that belief can impact people.
The first is that when you are not able name your feelings in the name of being “strong,” you stuff them. Everybody knows that is not healthy. The most dangerous feeling to stuff, in my opinion, is sadness. If you want to learn why I say that, read my post “Anger is Often Repressed Feelings of Sadness.”
The second reason pretending to be “strong” is dangerous is how it can affect others, in addition to yourself. The fallout of that is two-fold and neither of them are good for anybody.
First, it can appear to others that you are callous and do not care about what is happening for others. Now, I know that is rarely the truth for most people. However, when you are trying to appear “strong,” it can seem like the difficult situation does not affect you.
More than likely, that is the opposite of what is actually going on for you. Without a doubt, you are feeling some type of way, to use that phrase I hate. However, the goal should be to name your feelings because it is normal to have them and you also deserve to express them.
The other side of the fallout of appearing “strong” is that others will not know that you are struggling too. Now, many of you might think that’s what you want because you were taught now to have emotional needs.
That just results in your needs not being met. So, those feelings you stuff will just get bigger and bigger. Eventually, they will come out in very unhealthy ways. That’s never good for anybody involved.
Name Your Feelings
If you are relating to any of this, I encourage you to read my post Teaching Feeling the Emotions (Emotional Regulation for Kids). That post is not just about teaching children to name feelings. It also guides adults to do the same.
There are numerous ways in which society has taught you and continues to teach you not to name your feelings. I encourage you to start paying attention to things in your life that send the message that you should not show or name your feelings. Let yourself start challenging those messages. Show true strength by identifying and expressing your feelings in a health way.
Create Your Own Santa Beliefs
Now, if any of you got stuck on my talking about the song “Santa Clause is Coming to Town” and think I may be a little bit crazy with that, keep reading. I am allowing my baby to believe in Santa Clause, but I’m doing it in a little different way than what I and most others learned.
Since it’s Christmas time, people are often telling my baby that he better be good so that Santa can come see him. I’m aware that they don’t mean any harm. They are actually just being sweet and connecting with my sweet baby boy.
I love the magic of Santa. I want my baby to love that magic too and he does. However, I’m teaching him that Santa will come see him no matter what he does. It’s normal for children to misbehave because they are learning how to operate in the world, and they are asserting themselves and their independence. That is what we should actually want.
So, I will not teach my baby that he will not get the experience of Santa unless he is perfectly behaved. He is already perfect in my eyes. He deserves to know that and be shown that in every way my husband and I can show it.
I am teaching him that he should behave, for lack of a better word, because he needs to learn what he can and cannot do. However, I will not teach him that he should behave simply because somebody will give him presents.
So, ho ho ho and if you love Santa time, I hope Santa is good to you this year. Tell Santa that I said you deserve all good things, but please do not tell him you are feeling “some type of way.”
This site is only intended for people who are truly willing to look at themselves with an open mind and have the ability to truly be vulnerable with themselves and others. Please understand that this site is in NO WAY THERAPEUTIC ADVICE. However, this site can be very beneficial in learning the causes of your Not Good Enough Stuff. This site is not intended to provide or replace medical or psychiatric treatment. Mary Beth HIGHLY RECOMMENDS finding a licensed therapist to help you process the information from this site and all that you learn about yourself. Visit Psychology Today to find a licensed therapist in your area.