Tag Archives: Emotion

What About Feeling?


Emotion Poster

Let’s talk a bit about emotions. I’m not sure why, but most people seem more comfortable referring to them as feelings than as emotions. Perhaps the word feelings sounds more personal and less official in a way and that makes them a bit less ominous.

But whether we call them feelings or emotions, they refer to internal sensations that get stirred up when life happens. We all experience them. Interestingly however, if you do a search to find out how many feelings an average person experiences in any given day, you will find nothing. The options that come up will range from the number of thoughts a person has on an average day to the amount of calories a person should consume in an average day to how many times an average person urinates in an average day. But nothing about how many feelings a person experiences on the average.

According to dictionary.com emotion is: ‘an affective state of consciousness in which joy, sorrow, fear, hate, or the like, is experienced, as distinguished from cognitive and volitional states of consciousness.’

If this sounds a bit tough to pin down and measure to you, don’t worry. You are not alone. That is why we can’t determine something like an average amount of them each day for the average person. When it comes to emotions, for all intent and purpose, there is no real average. One person can become extremely emotional when they experience a specific event while another person experiencing the exact same event for the exact same amount of time has no emotional reaction whatsoever. In fact, one person can experience an intense emotional reaction to something one time, and later in the same day, experience no emotional reaction to the same event. How do you measure something that ambiguous and unique?


The confusion regarding emotions doesn’t only impact things like quantifying them. Many times, people find emotions difficult to identify, understand and manage; even their own. Quite often, if you ask someone how they are feeling, they do not really know. This is because as often as we experience emotions, we do not pay them much attention. Many times, this is not a very wise thing, because emotions have a funny way of piling up if they are intense and they are not dealt with.

When we think about the way we feel, we extend the feeling and compound the emotion. This would be a good thing in regard to positive emotions, like if we feel excited about an upcoming event and think about the way we feel, we intensify the excitement. It would not be a wise thing to do when it comes to negative emotions, however. But many people tend to do just that. By thinking about feeling upset, we ‘work ourselves up’ even more and become angrier.

What’s a person to do? This poses a dilemma because we are finding that it is healthful to get in touch with our emotions, yet we are saying it is not wise to think about them if they are negative.

The key is in the word “think.” Getting in touch with our feelings is not a cognitive process. Let me say that again. Nobody ever said to ‘think’ about feelings. Getting in touch means experience them – not think about them.

Just Be

Just Be

Feelings equate to being, not thinking. And most of us don’t know how“to be.” That is not a concept that many of us are familiar with. In fact, it is a concept that most of us are very uncomfortable with.

Now “THAT” is something to think about.

Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

Pretending to be happy


I wanted to share finding my inner courage`s latest post, since I find her incredibly brave in what she does. Living in excruciating pain is more than anyone can imagine, but still, she goes through it. The strength it takes to smile when all you want to do is cry out in agony, is immense. I send my best wishes, and cross my fingers for more pain-free moments in the future. You are a star.

Nina, psychologist

Pretending To Be Happy

15TuesdayOct 2013

Posted by  in BLOGS


Determinant of the circumstance, a lot of times it is heavily beneficial for me to keep a smile on my face, even though the emotional or physical pain that I am experiencing is weighing me down.

It takes more strength to be able to keep a smile on my face and to keep moving forward towards my goals, than it does to let a serious emotional or physical wound affect me, but what would life be without its challenges? Whether I choose to believe it or not staying positive and keeping a smile on my face is infectious, my positivity will infect everyone around me as will my negativity.

I must choose at times of extreme pain to be strong and make sure no one sees my pain!

Pretending to be happy when you’re in pain is just an example of how strong you are as a person. 


Love As A State Of Being And Healing

Love As A State Of Being And Healing

The philosophy of Dharma is a beautiful one; one that describes a grasp of Love for all beings, in whatever form they take in the world. That Love is not conditional, that it does not come with guarantees and that promise to pay is not a part of the Great Love. But Love can become a parody, as well. For instance, I Love Stephen and allways will, but I do not Love every one, but nor do I hate, nor would I wish upon anyone any harm or ill well, nor would I deny someone a hand should they ask. The reason being for that philosophy is that most people are not willing/able to accept Love, and it would be a kind of idiot compassion to project Great Love to someone who would reject or become scared by it, as you can place yourself in a vicious circle of victim consciousness (see videos below). To other people, I can become an instrument to be used and then discarded (as they view all other people).  It is possible to live amicably in the world without loving on all planes of consciousness in the world. It is possible to be kind without loving all of humanity. I do not love all of humanity, yet I do not hate them, because not all humans can accept Love or feel that they are deserving of Love. Would that humanity were different, that we could all be as Powder speaks, and yet, we (as a whole) are not. At least, not at this time.

San Francisco Sessions 2001 *Would I speak to someone who hated me, who wanted to harm me? No, that would be idiot compassion. Would I help someone who was only manipulating me? No, that would be idiot compassion. These are lessons that I have learnt. I do not hate humanity either. I used to. I used to be very misanthropic and self-deprecating, but I have let that go. There is no one to blame, in order to do so; I would have to blame us all. There is no great monster upon whose shoulders stones can be cast….so, hatred is not necessary. But neither can every one alive be trusted or Loved fully. Does that mean it is not possible to live fully in the world, no I do not think so. I think were I to make believe that everyone loves everyone totally and completely and unconditionally or that Love can be on all planes of consciousness/existence would make it so that I could not live fully in the world. Love to me, is like a deep friendship, a bond that cannot be broken save by those in the friendship. On this matter, I agree with Alan Watts and the others. I just do not punish those whom I do not love, because I do not think punishment is a very good learning tool. But I do think to love all of humanity in its current state is a parody of love.

It is possible to engage and to achieve Dharma without that kind of depth of Love for all of humankind, because understanding, honoring, and accepting are a great part of living fully. It is possible to be kind without it being known to the party receiving that kindness, it is possible to be kind without love. Kindness comes from understanding/ comprehension/perception as well

freedLiberation will come, but will it come from Love? I do not know. Liberation arises out of kindness, empathy, sympathy, compassion, understanding, comprehension, acceptance, help, generosity, example, sharing, caring, etc. as well as a Love (on a higher plane of consciousness). This is what I have learnt, what I see in the world. I hope humans one day in some time will be All Love. I hope I am around in some form to witness. In the meantime, I ride the wave and see what I can see, and explore, and embark upon adventures, and find pleasure in finding these things out…following scents on the wind.

Yes, I am speaking of Love in its profound sense, rather than its sentimental/emotional sense. Love can be expressed emotionally, yes, but I do not see it as an emotion. I see Love as a state of being, same as many of the states of being usually attributed to “mere” emotion. I see emotions as much more complex than feeling sad or angry (the idea that sadness is expressed with tears or that anger is expressed with loud voices). Emotions are far more subtle, and are included in the state of being known as Love. I think it is why sometimes when we are happy we may cry, or we can be extremely calm and quiet when we are angry, or we can be even more kind when we hate. Emotions are not so black and white. So, I speak of Love from the state of being (the profound sense). In this way, although it is a parody of Love to speak to all people we encounter with Love (i.e., would you tell the person you just met in the café and had a wonderful conversation that you love them? Yet you may do this to the person with whom you are most intimate, your girlfriend/boyfriend/partner/significant other, yes? You would not hesitate to spontaneously say to that person “I Love you” should they do something that you find yourself suddenly filled with the compulsion to say so? But you would not do this with the “stranger” seated next to you, even though they may do something as profound? This is what I mean in the difference between love as a parody and Love on a different plane). So, it is possible to have the heart open all the time (or as much as possible) to have Love, and yet, not project in this realm, where it is parodied.

the golden dream*Image Credits (all work used with permission through CC license)–
“freed” by new 1lluminati
“San Francisco Sessions 2001 *” by Wolfgang Sterneck
“the golden dream” by AlicePopkorn


Stress and Memory From a Neuroscience Perspective

Stress and Memory From a Neuroscience Perspective







“From a neuroscience perspective, amnesia in the absence of brain damage can be partially explained in biochemical terms. Stress causes a chemical reaction that affects regions of the brain responsible for memory. With repeated overwhelming stress, neurotransmitters and stress hormones are released in the brain in such excess quantity that they can adversely affect portions of the brain responsible for emotional memories as well as other kinds of memory.” p. 33, The Wandering Mind: Understanding Dissociation from Daydreaming to Disorders by John A Biever, M.D. and Maryann Karinch.

i'm not out to convince you or draw upon your mind*Image Credits (all work used with permission through CC license)–
“i’m not out to convince you or draw upon your mind” by Andrea Joseph
“Standing at the Gates of Hell” by Shane Gorski

The Language Of Schizophrenia


Professor Robert Sapolsky finishes his lecture on language and then dives into his discussion about schizophrenia. He discusses environmental factors as well as genetic characteristics that could apply to people who are affected. He describes schizophrenia as a disease of thought disorder and inappropriate emotional attributes. [quoted from the description box beneath the video]

Complex States At Being


Emotions can be incredibly complex states of being/mind.

I just want to be happyPeople (particularly in this western culture) are afraid to experience emotion due to heavy amounts of socialization and conditioning, especially in school. You know, we’re taught to sit still, to be quiet, to “use our inside voices”, to line up, to avoid disorder and be orderly, to obey, to submit, to share. To share, but not to cooperate. There is a difference. Sharing does not necessarily imply or guarantee cooperation. In school, sharing is a behavioral technique; used as a means to control the behavior of a room full of pinging (that is, naturally rambunctious and curious-minded) short beings.

Let me tell you a story: a sad story about a little girl who cried.

cry, baby, cryTo get to City Island one can walk across a 2,800 foot long truss bridge, which was exactly what I was doing when I spotted a brief exchange between a little girl and her father. The little girl’s father, pushing another child in a stroller, told the little girl to look around as well as look at all the fish visible in the River below. The little girl was throwing bread over the side of the bridge to the fish, and seemed very happy.

Later, having crossed the bridge, I was sat under a pavilion and saw the little girl and her family again as they were passing by. The little girl tripped over a rise in the structure of the sidewalk and fell very hard. So hard that I winced when I heard the sound. She immediately bawled, as I’m sure that hurt her terribly. Probably terrified at the pain, you know, she ran to her father for solace. . . and he admonished her. He yelled at her as he brushed the dirt from her clothes, “You gotta watch where you’re walking. You can’t be looking around while you’re walking!” He seemed actually angry with her that she tripped, an accident on her part, no intent to spoil his day whatsoever. She only cried harder asking then for her mommy. At this, her father really became angry and shouted, “That’s it! You’re going back to the car you can’t act right!”

Did you see the contradiction?

Just moments ago, on the bridge he was telling her to LOOK around, then minutes later punished her for doing exactly that. These are the kinds of happenings that disturb me in the world. What did that do to the mind of that little girl? How could she possible understand that kind of contradicting information from such a trusted and authoritative figure as her father? What was the impact upon her consciousness? What did she just unconsciously learn? How did that affect her ego? Her sense of self in the world she knows and how will that affect her sense of self in subsequent years?

Which brings me back to emotions and the horrors some humans have undergone. That suffering. What I think not many humans grok is that suffering can be soft, horror is not always large, it can be very subtle. . . like entropy, changing and developing small vibrations over time that then result in the current personality/identity of that child in the form of an adult.

The Girl Who Cried WolfWhat happened to that little girl is a subtle terror, an event that will accompany who knows how many more and will shape her as a human being. It’s systematic, to get children all to sit still or to behave as one being so it could be easier (or more efficient) for the teacher to educate them. A good idea, sure, but in actuality what happens is that the children become standardized. The spark, the inspiration for creativity and innovation and imagination breaks down because the channels created have no room for them, no means to categorize something as unpredictable as a room full of children all having ideas simultaneously.

This is one way that fear of emotion is installed in the collective consciousness. That fear to really let go and be fully in the space. . .

“. . . and I’m free, free falling.” ~Tom Petty, ‘Free Falling’

*Image credits (used with permission through CC license)–
“I just want to be happy” by bravelittlebird
“cry, baby, cry” by Barbara Pellizzon
“The Girl Who Cried Wolf” by GaelForce Photography



Shyness – fascinating essay on this topic – that will make a connection with many that remain concerned about their place in our world...

The essay also touches on the psychological community’s need to pathologize – rather than forming an understanding of others…. (See also Joe Moran’s blog –http://joemoransblog.blogspot.com/ )


Pictures that make you smile


Categories of funny emails / Interesting Eamils / More Than ‘Just Photographs’

Subject:More Than ‘Just Photographs’ 


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Oxygen. Without exception.


I’ve come quite a long way over the last few years. In common with many, Life has lobbed one or two, (or three or four), entertaining situations my way of the kind that personal development gurus like to tell you are opportunities not barriers. You know. ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’. ‘There’s no such thing as a problem, only opportunities’. Of course. Yeah.

The implication here is that if you fail to become stronger, grow, develop into a better person, then you have wasted your chance. You’ve ignored your one and only call from the Fates to fulfil your destiny in true Hollywood style. Bookshelves, lecture halls, theatres and sales team award ceremonies are filled with tales of those special people who did make the grade. Who rose higher than the brick walls that surrounded their life and became better people, richer in self fulfilment and bank balance. These are the ones who really did find their way to streak skywards above the mess and make sometimes truly astounding recoveries and reversals of fortune.

We’re not all like that. We can’t all astound. We can’t all take on life’s adversities and achieve the spectacular. Think it through. If we did, it wouldn’t be astounding, would it? It would cease to be a spectacle. It would simply be something normal and everyday. Unworthy of comment.

My point is, there’s a massive difference between achieving the absolutely stunning, sufficient to make a career out of telling others how to achieve their own version of that very same stunning in the ‘if I can do it anybody can’ style. It’s the whole unwritten premise of that industry. If everybody could do it, it wouldn’t be stunning and sure as hell wouldn’t sell books or fill theatres.

Almost everybody out there is, well, normal and whilst exceptional circumstances absolutely can produce exceptional people, that potentiality for exception must pre-exist. Most of the time, the exceptional person rises from the overall population of everybody else. After all, we only need one heroic leader at a time. Let’s face it, what happens when you get two heroic leaders? Conflict and war, that’s what.

So if like me you find yourself, not on the margins of life, feeling that exceptional potentiality throbbing away whilst it waits for its own particular spark to set an unexpected train of events into motion ending in a pre-destined fulfilment of itself but rather in the mix with the bulk of humanity, wending your own way through life’s trials and tribulations, what then is the more usual result of being thrown up against the rocks of life’s more mundane coastline?

Personal experience leads me to believe that there’s all manner of anxiety, stress and pain that can result. The modern world, ill designed as it is to fit our evolutionary profile, keeps battering our psyche with problems that our instinctive reactions can no longer solve. Emergency protection mode is not a healthy place to live and yet we keep being thrown into it because our instincts tell us to fight it or run away. Much of the time we would be better off pondering quietly over an issue and think up, devise or just create a suitable solution.

The difficulty is of course, that when instinct kicks in we are driven by emotion and hormones, not conscious thought process. High emotion makes us stupid, deliberately so, so that we do actually run or fight rather than cogitate a possible solution whilst disaster roars it’s blood-stained teeth in our general direction. Given that most of us are not living in life or death situations, (depending on personal geography or neighbourhood), we’d be much better off if we could just lower the emotional content of our automatic reactions.

Much of what ails us is based around behaviours learned whilst young enough not to know better and so long ago that we no longer question it’s validity. Here’s a few typical ones; It’s just how it is; Stress is just part of modern life; You mustn’t say no because you can’t be seen as weak; Pain doesn’t go away, it’s there for life; No matter how hard you try, you can’t get pregnant; It’s all going wrong, why doesn’t someone fix it; It’s just how it is; Don’t have a go at me, it’s not my fault.

It’s just how it is.

Isn’t it?

The thought that came and slapped me round the face this week was that through all the difficulties of the last few years, I’ve (usually) been the one best equipped to carry the load, although when I couldn’t, Gill stepped up and took over even though it cost her. (Thank you, by the way). So as in my opinion, I could carry the load, I did. And although I can’t put my finger on when it happened I was brought up in the big boys don’t cry tradition, so I manfully suppressed all emotional reaction to what was being lobbed at us and held everything together. With the benefit of hindsight, that was exactly the wrong thing to do. It’s like keeping the lid down tight on the pressure cooker and reacting to too much heat by strapping the safety valve firmly shut and wondering why it exploded.

Anyway, the thought that floated past me was this. I did it, not because I thought I was stronger or more heroic than everyone else but because everyone else around me was more important than me. So there I was, manfully (big boys don’t cry, remember) holding up everyone else, keeping the lid on until the explosion. And then what? I had to get held up until someone else fell down. At which point, I dragged myself back to my feet to hold them up etc. spinning one of those vicious circles around and around until we all got too dizzy to think. Until life lobbed something at us that I couldn’t fix by being stronger than everyone around me.

So my journey over the past few years has taught me to gradually let the pressure off and find out what it all looks like when it’s stabilised and everyone around was allowed to deal with their own issues in their own way. Yes, we all still helped each other. Provided support where and when it was and still is needed. But like saplings, unless you’re allowed to deal with the buffeting of life, you never develop your strength and have to remain supported your whole live.

There I was, sitting at the kitchen table in mid late-night conversation with Gill, realising that I was mistakenly giving importance to those I love by the time-honoured method of devaluing my own importance. Classic. Put yourself at risk because you don’t deserve help and you don’t want to let them down.

Here’s the deal. If you give value to others by devaluing yourself, you haven’t actually given them anything. They aren’t better off. You’re just worse off. It really is important to tackle life from a standpoint of strength, with a sense of your own well-being and self-worth. That way, whenever help is needed, you are more ready and able to stand up and be counted.

Of course, given that we’re evolutionarily ill-equipped for our current lives, very often the person who needs the help turns out to be you. One of the key developmental stages in any therapeutic advance is a move from a fundamental lack of self-worth, to a point where you truly value your own identity, embracing your right to have a seat at the table.

Along with that comes responsibility. A move away from an external locus of control, whereby life’s problems should be fixed by someone else because let’ face it, it’s not your fault. A move towards an internal locus of control which simply tells you that  whatever happens, however it happened, the responsibility for dealing with your life is entirely yours. Absolutely, you may need help. You may be offered or seek assistance. But the task falls to you.

You really can make it better, even if that turns out to be fixing things that can be fixed and learning to be content with the things that can’t, no matter how bad they might be.

And when you’ve leant that strength, that focussed source of being responsible for you, able and willing to make your own decisions, you’ll find that you’ve developed a centred power that enables you to help others reach their own place of certainty.

Selfish though it may seem at first, embrace that well-worn in-flight safety message: If you have to help someone put their oxygen mask on, make sure you have yours in place first.

After all, if you pass out from a lack of life’s oxygen, so will they. And then you’ve really let them down.

And if you find that you’re metaphorically gasping for air and struggling to get oxygen to those around you, Cognitive Hypnotherapy might just turn out to be the life-line you need. Just pull it down sharply and breathe normally.

Now that I’ve got my oxygen mask on, do you need help with yours?


*This post originally appeared in Posts of Hypnotic Suggestion in April 2013

that'll wake you up© Tony Burkinshaw 2013
that’ll wake you up
© Tony Burkinshaw 2013

Why do people listen to sad music when down?


Why do people like listening to sad music when they’re feeling down?


We spend most of our lives trying to be happy. And yet when we’re feeling sad we put on a tear-jerker tune and wallow in our misery. Why?

It’s an aspect of the psychology of music that’s been surprisingly overlooked. Now Annemieke Van den Tol and Jane Edwards at the University of Limerick have surveyed 65 adults online about a time they’d had a negative experience and then chose to listen to a sad piece of music. Most of the participants were Irish but there were also respondents in the Netherlands, USA, Germany and Spain. The age range was 18 to 66 (average 26) with 30 women.

Because this issue has hardly been investigated before, the researchers opted for a qualitative approach. They analysed the participants’ descriptions and looked for recurring themes in why they chose to play sad music.

Van den Tol and Edwards felt that the answers fell into two main overarching themes – the strategies people adopted in selecting sad music, and the functions served by the music.

Among the strategies was the desire for connection. People wanted to listen to music that matched their current mood. “I didn’t want music that would cheer me up, I wanted to stay with those emotions for a while until I was ready to let go of them,” said one 25-year-old female participant. This notion fits with past research showing that people’s current mood is often a better predictor of their choice of music than their desired mood.

Another strategy was using sad music as a memory trigger – to experience nostalgia or feel closer to a person who was missed. “I selected the music because I know he [the person who had died] had liked the music too,” said a 48-year-old female.

Other participants described selecting sad music for its aesthetic value. In this case people weren’t choosing the music to enhance their own sadness or to reminisce, they simply thought the music was beautiful and high quality.

The final strategy related to the message communicated by the sad song. These were often tracks that were sad but conveyed a hopeful message. “The Waterboys song: to me it seems to channel my emotions, and the lyrics give me a sense of hope,” said a 31-year-old male.

The self-regulatory functions of listening to sad music were closely related to the above strategies. So, for example, participants spoke of the re-experiencing of their affect. “I was at home, feeling sorry for myself … though I could not cry,” said a 24-year-old female. “So I decided to play some sad music in order to cry a little and then feel relieved and move on.” A 21-year-old lady put it like this: “the music would encourage me to feel the pain as it were, plus allow me to have a good cry for myself … It probably did not make me feel better at the time, but may have helped me cope overall.”

Another function the researchers labelled cognitive. This included a sense induced by sad music of “common humanity” – seeing one’s own feelings as part of the larger human experience rather than lonely and isolating.

There were also participants who saw sad music as a friend, as if it were empathising with their suffering. “I felt befriended by the music,” said a 33-year-old woman. “By this I mean that if you were to pretend the music/lyrics was a real person, with its lyrics of understanding friendship, comfort and confidence, then surely the song would be your best friend.”

Other identified functions were mood enhancementretrieving memories, and social, which had to do with feel closer to loved ones. Sad music also acted as a distraction. In this case, participants described how sad music allowed them to escape silence. Jolly music was unthinkable, but a mournful tune broke the silence and created a distance from one’s own negative emotions.

Van den Tol and Edwards said their survey provided the perfect springboard for more research into this topic. Future research “could examine the actual effects of music listening in a real life setting,” they suggested, “and how the achievement of self-regulatory goals relate to changes in affect, cognition, and behaviour.”

Do you like listening to sad music when you’re feeling down? What effect does the music have on you?

_________________________________ ResearchBlogging.org

AJM Van den Tol, and J Edwards (2013). Exploring a rationale for choosing to listen to sad music when feeling sad. Psychology of Music DOI: 10.1177/0305735611430433

–Further reading–
-By coincidence, another study into sad music is currently receiving a lot of attention in the media.
-Also, from the Digest archive: Pop music is getting sadder and more emotionally ambiguous

Post written by Christian Jarrett (@psych_writer) for the BPS Research Digest.

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Posted by Christian Jarrett at 8:39 am
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