Feelings, thoughts, and emotions

I think a lot of `our problems’ are because language is so…well, problematic.  Writing this blog, I’ve been noticing that I’m using the phrase, ‘I’m feeling like…and then following it with a thought’ – and I’m implying there’s a connection between feelings and thoughts that isn’t necessarily there.  This may seem like just a petty little semantic problem at first – but especially for us dbt-ers, I think it’s actually a really important distinction.

I’ve only been seeing my new therapist (NT) for a little while, and there’s been a pattern of me saying that I’m feeling – then adding an `emotion’ or a `thought’ – and her responding with, `where are you feeling it?  What does it feel like?  What color is it?  Is it heavy, etc.?  Pulling all these words apart, here’s what I’m left with:

*Feelings are sensations.  It makes sense, right?  I mean, feelings are related to touch.  But we don’t always use the word to mean `sensations’.  In order to be aware of what our thoughts are though, it’s pretty crucial to know that feelings are NOT thoughts.  They may be related to thoughts, but they are not in themselves thoughts.  They are sensations.  ‘Nough said.

*Thoughts are…well…umm….thoughts. 😉  Our brain comes up with thoughts.  Thoughts in and of themselves don’t have any power or weight.  If we believe them, or judge them…we can give them power.  When we give them power/believe them, they can be linked to bodily sensations/feelings.  But they’re not linked all the time.

My homework this week – and if you’d like to do it too, I’d love to hear your feedback – is that when I identify an `emotion’, I am to first `feel’ the emotion.  This is the skill `mindfulness of current emotion’.  Then I am to observe the thoughts that are accompanying the bodily sensations.

This will take a lot, a lot of mindfulness.  But we’re gonna do it.  Right?  Oh no, butterflies in belly.  Thinking: People are gonna read this and be saying, `hell no, who the f*ck do you think you are thinking we give a crap what your homework is, let alone thinking we’re gonna do your stupid practice’.  Emotion: Humiliation, sadness.  More feelings: downward pull on mouth, blinking back tears.  There ya go.  Loads of fun! 😉

That’s it for now.  Simply to separate out the two, and to start using the words correctly.  Because it’s an `assignment’, and I’m impatient, I’m already tempted to do all sorts of things with my thoughts to see how it affects my feelings.   But I’ll try to keep myself in check, and it’ll be helpful to believe that some folks out there are doing this with me..and not talking crap about me.  So that’s what I’ll think. 🙂



About dailydbt

This entry was posted in daily skills, dialectical behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioural therapy, emotion mind, mindfulness of current emotion, skills practice, wise mind and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Feelings, thoughts, and emotions

  1. Sara says:

    I love this post! I think it’s so interesting how language can really screw us over sometimes. Even seemingly little things like using the word “but” instead of “and” can really impact our thoughts and then our emotions. Can’t wait to hear how the homework goes!

    • dailydbt says:

      Well, hello Sara! I’m so glad you like the post! 🙂 Switching from ‘but’ to `and’ has been one of the most helpful things I learned in dbt. When I catch myself saying `but’ it generally leads to my having negative thoughts. When I say `and’, I generally have accepting and non-judgmental thoughts afterwards. And I just feel better!

      It’s much easier for me to catch the `but’ statements when I’m speaking out loud. It’s as if my hearing the word `but’ automatically cues the thought `how “bout making that `and'”?

      There’s such a strong connection between using `and’ and radical acceptance – for me anyway. It’s such a relief when I remember to use it.

      Thanks for reading, and your comment!

      Skill Monster

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