Psychological Solutions For A Better Life

Understanding Feelings

Many theories about feelings exists and it can be a little bit confusing to make sense of all the different opinions (see Wikipedia). I am going to present a view that is informed by NLP and has proven useful in my practice over the years.

Stripped to the bare bones we can say that feelings are just information. They are feedback that informs people about their experiences.

Seeing feelings in this light, it doesn’t make sense to label them good or bad. They just are. Feelings tell you something about what is going on around you and propel you to take action. The following is a schematic view of how feelings come about. 

NLP-Communication-Model  1.    You observe an external event, i.e. someone acts in a certain way, your hear something on the news, or you remember something that happened in the past.

2.     This observation passes inside your mind through a number of filters (filters are for example values, beliefs attitudes, language, time, space, energy, culture, personality traits) causing you to delete, distort or generalise parts of the information. Click on picture to enlarge.

3.    Next you create an internal representation interpreting and giving meaning to what you have observed. You might interpret the external event as a threat, hurtful, caring, dangerous, or supportive.

4.    This internal representation leads to an internal state and influences your physiology. Chemicals are released, blood pressure and breathing may change and tears may flow. You are now able to identify what you feel.

5.    Lastly you respond with a behaviour this can be anything from a little smile or a much as an assertive reproach.

It becomes quickly clear, that how a person interprets an experience. Philosophers have pointed out that people don’t react to what ‘REALLY’ is going on. Humans are incapable of doing so because everything that happens is evaluated and interpreted by our brain. Instead we react to our perception rather than to reality.


Comments on: "Understanding Feelings" (1)

  1. I am having a bad day. It’s been a long week of nightly bad dreams and thinking back. I have had 15 years of therapy but continue to have PTSD symptoms. Now I’m watching Oprah who is interviewing a man who was abused in all the worst ways. But, I am watching it with my blanket over my head. It just got too much.

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