What are you feeling?

It may seem an easy task to transmit ideas, opinions, and personal perceptions to others in a cognitive form. It is quite another matter to communicate our feelings and emotions on the affective level. According to David W. Johnson, to be able to express emotions to another is not only a source of joy to human beings, "but is also necessary for our psychological well being." [1]

Feelings may be thought of as internal biochemical reactions to experiences. The heart may beat faster, perspiration starts, breathing may become shallow or rapid. When asked about staring eyes and rigid posture, one may report feeling angry. Sometimes it is difficult to express feelings because of fear of rejection. At other times a person may not even be aware of the internal chemical reactions occurring. Feelings are internal states, but overt behaviors are used to communicate feelings to others. According to David W. Johnson to become aware of feelings, it is necessary for people to pay attention to their reactions to what is taking place around them. [2]

The five aspects of such internal reactions are:  1. gathering information from the five senses, 2. interpreting what the information means, 3. identifying them as feelings, 4. deciding how to express the feeling, 5. expressing feelings.[3]

Some feelings are difficult to express. Pair off with a friend and see how similar,  or different, you express the following feelings. Write a description of what you and your friend say, or act when these feelings are expressed. What did you learn about yourself from this activity?

rejection            guilt                      shame                        anger                    fear

 1.David W. Johnson,  Reaching Out: Interpersonal Effectiveness and Self Actualization 8th ed., Boston,: Allyn and Bacon 2003 p.168 
 2. Ibid., p.169 3. Ibid.,pp.170-171

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Copyright 1998  [Robert Brehm]. All rights reserved.