A verbal description of a discrete piece of reality

My therapist friend has a mantra that he uses with clients: 

If it takes more than four words, then it’s probably not a feeling. 

In fact, just because we use the word feel in a sentence does not necessarily mean that we are communicating our emotions effectively. 

For example, when we whine to a coworker about how we feel that our boss is being an unfair asshole, that is not a feeling. Definitely a thought, a judgment, an opinion, an observation, an accusation and an adjective, but not a feeling. 

It’s simply a verbal description of a discrete piece of reality. 

Saying that we feel scared is a feeling. Saying that we are disgusted is a feeling. Saying that we have become angry is a feeling. See the difference? 

This distinction is something I used to practice in a men’s group. Part of our standing leadership challenge was to speak our microscopic truth in real time. To guide each other towards our true emotions, rather than getting caught up in story. Our goal was not to make each other feel better, rather, to help each other get better at feeling. 

That way, out in the world when we catch ourselves drifting into story, we can recenter ourselves by returning to feelings. 

Four words or less. 

Instead of saying that we feel life is a grotesque, meaningless charade, we simply say we feel hopeless. 

Instead of remarking that our job at the bank is a constant and crushing sense unbearable suffering, we say that we feel sad. 

And so on. 

This is how we participate fully in our own experiences. 

We become clear, concise and objective witnesses to the topography of our emotions. 


Do you rely on your own feelings as a valuable source of information?

* * * *

Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.  



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