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Noticing Feelings, Emotions and Sensations

Updated: Jan 26, 2023

In my previous post, I pointed out that starting with the "What is happening?" question is the preferred approach when it comes to mental health. The What question is about observing internal experience: "thoughts, memories, emotions, body sensations, beliefs, etc." You want to be very familiar with the way you respond to external events as you go through your life. This familiarity will give you more headspace, a chance to move from reaction into action. You will feel like the time available for your response expands and in this additional moment, you will have room to make a choice. This is what you can aim for: "In this situation, I notice that I have these feelings and thoughts, I can sense them in these places in my body and I behave in this way" You are focusing on improving your sensorimotor, emotional and cognitive awareness. Here are a few examples:

  1. When you talk to your colleagues about this project, you feel tightness in your chest and you notice a surge in your anxiety. A thought shows up "I will not make it, I am not good enough for this project".

You then notice that you struggle to engage with them.

  1. You just gave a presentation and a colleague of yours looks at you with a "strange" face. Your mind says: "I did not do a good job, we have lost the sale".

You start not to feel like eating, your stomach is sore. Later on, you notice that you have worried about this issue until late in the night, and you were disconnected from your family. The day after you realize that the presentation went well. This "What is happening?" phase is similar to data collection. You are like a scientist that with curiosity is looking at a situation to understand what is going on. This is not an easy task. As you keep exploring you might notice that some of these observations are biased by your thinking and emotional process. This discovery will come in hindsight. Sharing your observation with somebody else is also of great help because they can look at the same story with a different view, just because they are a different person. However, it is paramount that this person has done enough self-inquiry on them self, otherwise, there is the risk that they will add to your story their own biases, believes and values. This is why I strongly recommend, at least at the beginning of your growth journey, to go to a psychotherapist. If you go to a professional that has done little work on themselves, it is more like they will push their agenda on you. Every psychotherapist, in their training, is required to go for psychotherapy. They also need to go to supervision to ask for another opinion on your specific issues. These two pieces of professional requirements make a significant difference in how somebody can attend to you in the room

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