Feelings are words we use to describe, and at times mask, the sensations we feel.
When you ask, or are asked “How do you feel?” What do you respond? The first responses that comes to mind usually are “I feel, great, not great, fine, good, angry, sad, excited…” the list goes on.
What do these words mean? What are they really attempting to convey? They are the meta, the tip of the iceberg so to speak, of what is really going on inside.
Language is such a tricky thing. Just because we think we’re speaking the same language doesn’t make it any easier to understand each other.
I’m going to suggest something radical now…
What if instead of grouping all of those feelings into a word, that we describe as emotion, we instead revealed the sensation? For example, “I’m angry” might become, my face is feeling really hot, or my hands are tightening.
“I’m sad” might become my chest feels hollow.
“I’m feeling excited” might become, I feel light and tingly all over.
“I feel strong” can be I feel solid/grounded.
We have so many rules tied to what we ‘feel’!
Here’s what’s brilliant about this approach, each of us will have a different way of describing what we really feel. This is not about getting rid of our words. My belief is the more connected we become to our sensations the better we will become in describing what is really going on inside of us.
In my experience, when I allow myself to express the sensation, I feel less judgement about the context and about myself. And, it’s about me… not the person I’m engaging with. More often than not it changes the texture and trajectory of the conversation.
There are so many rules associated with what we ‘feel’. Is it a good feeling, or a bad feeling? It raises the question of what we should or shouldn’t feel in any given circumstance, based on our cultural conditioning, and determines what we give ourself permission to feel based on context.
The simplicity in just declaring what our sensations are enables us to declare our truth in the moment, with far less judgement, if any. Declaring our sensations also invites us to stop and really notice what is going on inside of us, rather than staying on the surface of it all. We invite ourself to do a deep dive and reveal our truth, in a way that is less scary.
We’re more apt to question a feeling rather than a sensation…
A secondary benefit of this approach is, when engaging with another, they cannot deny our experience. Our reaction to “I feel punched in the stomach” will be very different to “I feel hurt.” It creates space for more compassion and empathy. Inviting us to lean in, rather than get defensive.
Are you willing to give it a try? What have you got to lose? The next time someone asks you “How do you feel?” describe the sensation moving inside of you and notice if your conversation takes a different course.
It may feel a little awkward at first, but then aren’t most things we try for the first time? When you do, and, if you’re willing, leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you!
Until the next time,