All the things you think are feelings are just that - thoughts. What you think are feelings: self-esteem, a sense of importance, feelings of confidence and strength. Are Nada. Niente.
Now just think of what a feeling is. You do not have to cogitate about it. It just FEELS. Importance, esteem are cerebral. They have a different origin in the brain from real feelings which emanate from deeper down. But when you think you feel it often feels like feeling, so the confusion is not surprising. But we are discussing different brain regions with different functions; and the neo-cortex is in charge of self deception. It is its ancient function—often, to keep from feeling the depth and horror of our pain. One of its functions is as a structure of defense.
Maybe I am putting all those booga booga centers out of business, although I don’t think for a moment that it is possible; they are businesses built on deceptions by those who know better, and for those who are so blinded that they cannot know better. One reason is that this nonsense is in the zeitgeist. And secondly, it is much more comfortable to believe that we can feel importance or change our self-esteem with a few exhortations, or mumbo-jumbo; or that we can feel important when one’s entire early life was composed of those in charge of us, issuing orders and denigrating our every effort. And this nearly always occurred when the imprint was the most forceful and enduring. It stuck in our system and controlled our lives; it determined a feeling of unimportance. It was lodged in the limbic system and made us feel unimportant … for life. No exercise later on will change that. People or therapists later on, assuring us we are wonderful and important, will change nothing.
Those early feelings live in every cell of our bodies; they are now systemic and organic. Esteem is an IDEA, not a feeling, just like self-hate is an idea, not a feeling. Yet we can act like we hate ourselves but where does it come from? All major ideas are cortical not limbic. Our parents hated us and so we feel hated and not worthy of love. That was an early experience. How do we raise that low self-esteem? We feel how the parents treated us and make us feel like worms… worthless… not worthy of love. This is not a mystery. Our feelings of low esteem, for example, derive from our environment even before we were born. We were never treated as separate and cherished human beings; so we responded to our environment. And we feel unimportant. Because it was our reality — we were unimportant. A child completely loved never has any use for higher self esteem. Oops, those booga booga workshops are screaming their lungs out. Do I mean that being loved as a child stops anyone from being transported to some unreal state? Yes. Why would anyone loved and felt important to his family search out a center to make her feel important? So clearly, it is for those who feel unimportant, and that comes from reality and is not neurotic. It is a real reaction to real life events. And once the imprint is locked in, there is only one way to change it; go back to the imprint. If you don’t, then you get such games as having people fall back into others’ arms to learn how to trust.
How about feeling hopeless? Again it can set up during birth when every effort failed to give us hope of not dying. The hopelessness was imprinted systemically.
So were do we get hope again? From dialectics; from feeling utter hopelessness when it was imprinted early on. Does anyone think a therapist or guru can change that and make us feel hopeful again? We can fall over backwards into some guide’s arms but will that change a deep hopeless feeling? Imprints are predominant; they do not accede to anything or anyone. They have endured for our lifetime.
Remember that anything that emanates from "on top" is not a feeling. "On top" can trigger feelings and if we are not neurotic they will be real feelings. So here is Janov’s law: we can feel higher, better by feeling again those early negative inputs that made us feel bad, but we cannot feel better by aiming high, reaching for self-esteems. The dialectic rules. History made us feel a certain way, and returning to history is the only way to change our feelings. Those feelings were imprinted during our vulnerable history and allow no escape.