I’m often asked what I mean by “feeling” and how this differs from emotions and sensations.  I’ll explain them in a simplified way and explain why it matters.  You’ll also see how knowing this information can help you quench negative emotion in a healthy way and go after your goals and dreams.

Sensations are physiologically created and sensed in the body first, then registered by the brain, causing a thought.  In other words, they start in the body and then go to the brain.  Examples of this would hunger, thirst, pain, temperature, etc.  If a bee stings me on the elbow, my brain senses the pain in my elbow and then creates a thought “OUCH! That hurt!”  Trauma (and other things) can confuse the issue though, when it seems that the sensations come from body to brain, rather than brain to body.  One could argue that the thought still came first on a subconscious
Emotions Emotions are also experienced physiologically in the body, but as a result of (after) a thought. (Another way of saying this: Emotions are created by a thought in the  brain, and then felt in the body.)  An example would be thinking the thought “Oh my gosh, everyone’s staring at me!” which creates a rush of neurotransmitters (chemicals) into the blood stream, which creates millions of chemical reactions in the body, leading to physiological “symptoms” such as shallow and quick breathing, a racing heart, tightness in the throat and chest, flushing in the face, etc.
Feelings Feelings occur completely cognitively, in the brain.  They are the words your brain uses to label the emotions that are felt in the body.  In the above (“emotions”) example, the brain labels the emotion as “embarrassment” or something similar.  It’s important to note that feelings are one word.  Often, when I ask a client how they’re feeling, they reply with a sentence, which is an indication that they are sharing a thought rather than a feeling. 
Why it Matters Because we live in a society where feelings and the expression of them are not openly accepted, we get really good at suppressing them-even from a young age.  Over time, this does more damage than good.  I liken it to holding a beach ball underwater.  After a doing this for any substantial length of time, it gets exhausting and the emotion starts “popping up” when and where we don’t want it to.  We lose control over the emotion this way, whereas if we were to let a little air out of that ball on occasion, it would likely be much easier to deal with. 

When emotions are ignored and suppressed, they can become overwhelming.

Neuroscientist Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor states that it takes less than 90 seconds for emotions to run their full cycle and complete its circuitry.  This means if we can sit with our emotion and allow/notice/watch it non-judgmentally, its affects will dissipate in a less than two minutes!  This usually begs the suspicious question from clients, “Then how come I feel anxious for an hour at a time?” The answer is simple: Because you continue ruminating on the thoughts that are causing the neurotransmitters to be released in the body!

Application The next time you notice yourself having a strong emotion, allow yourself to sit with it and observe quietly.  Identify the feeling, and then imagine that a nurse has just injected you with a shot of that feeling, saying “You’ll feel the affects of this for 90 seconds max.” Imagine you’re going to write a report to describe the emotion when you’re finished. Get that clear on the experience and describe it with as much detail as possible.  Color Temperature Texture (pins & needles, butterflies) Pressure (heavy, lightness, openness, closed off) Check your muscle tension, heart pace, breathing depth and pace   Over time, you’ll start to see that the worse we experience in this life is a negative emotion, and they’re not really as bad as our brains have built them up to be!  Once we get really good at processing emotion, it loses its power over us.  Which is a very good thing because many exciting risks we’ll take in life (like buying a car, changing jobs, starting a business) involve taking risks, which is guaranteed to have plenty of negative emotion!  You’ve got this.  After all, you weren’t given a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self control.  It’s all part of the process of creating the life you were created for.

Not sure how to apply this to your own life?  Why not do a mini session with me?

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