When I think about going to school, I remember learning how to read and do math. I remember dissecting a worm and playing sports. I remember learning the breakdown of how to write a paper, from stating your thesis to bringing it home in a conclusion.
What I DON’T remember is someone teaching me about what was happening in my mind and body from moment to moment and how to understand and work with my thoughts, emotions, and feelings. In hindsight, that would have been SUPER helpful.
And it turns out I’m far from the only one who didn’t get this education and feels somewhat in the dark as a result.
The good news is it’s never too late to learn. And the more you understand what’s happening “under the hood” of your humanness, the more you can teach and guide your kids and loved ones as they navigate their own human experience.
Let’s start with 3 human experiences that are happening all the time.
Thoughts are a wild thing to talk about because we can’t see or feel them. Yet, research shows us that we have 50-70k thoughts a day! It sounds exhausting just typing that! An important thing to note is that upwards of 90% of these thoughts are unconscious—they’re just cooking away in the background with
out you even realizing it.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) teaches us that our thoughts lead us to experience emotions.
Emotions are the physiological experience and/or physical states you experience due to your thoughts. There are a few different viewpoints out there, but a researcher who I love and trust is Brené Brown. Her research shows that there are 87 emotions and that, on average, most people can only identify 3 (THREE!) emotions in themselves: happy, sad, and angry.
People often use the terms ‘emotions’ and ‘feelings’ interchangeably, but they are different.
Feelings = personal experience of emotion + felt sense
Feelings are the physical experiences and sensations that you have that are connected to an emotion present in the body. This means that everyone FEELS emotions differently. For example, if I have two women who are saying they feel anxious, and I ask them how the anxiety feels in their body, they will usually say something completely different. One might say, I feel a pit in my stomach,” while another says, “I feel my heart racing.”
Emotions can have similar sensations in human bodies, but overall, every human body is unique and will feel things differently!
It’s up to us to be explorers and scientists of ourselves to learn how we experience the felt sensation of certain emotions.
The last foundational piece of this “being human” process is that how we feel leads us to make choices. Our feelings lead us to take action (or not!), and these choices lead to outcomes.
And within these actions and outcomes, we get thrown right back into the cycle of having more thoughts/emotions/feelings!! And thus, there we go again, being human. 😉
Do these explanations offer something new to you? Can you only recognize a few emotions in your body? If so, you are part of the norm in my experience!!
Fortunately, many kids are now receiving more social-emotional education in schools, and usually, the adults teaching (just like me) are learning right alongside their students!
Want to keep on learning together? Join my email newsletter below for more tips and resources.