I read the book The Secret Language of Feelings by Calvin D. Banyan recently and knew I had to share it with you. This is part 1 of 2 blog posts.
I love this book because it pairs perfectly with what I teach as a life coach. Our brains work in a think, feel, act cycle. Very simply put, you think a thought, feel a feeling, and take an action.
If you don’t understand how it works, your life can feel out of control. That’s how I felt before my life coach taught me how to master this cycle in my life.
Every single result you have or don’t have in your life is because of this cycle.
Feelings are natures built in guidance system. They let us know whether our needs are being fulfilled or not. When we don’t meet the needs our feelings signal to us, our lives are filled with frustration, stress, and eventually depression.
We handle most of our emotions through distracting.
I usually refer to it as buffering, but this book calls it distracting. It’s the same concept.
We suppress our feelings by moving away from what is bothering us, to something else.
We focus on cleaning, eating, alcohol, drugs, TV, shopping, anything other than what our feelings signaled us they need.
It’s not that doing those things is the problem, it’s doing them instead of meeting your emotional needs that’s a problem.
Emotions start in our brains.
We have a thought and then that thought releases a chemical that creates the physical expression of an emotion that you feel in your body. We aren’t always aware that the thought came first though. It’s often a subconscious thought or what I call your brain on autopilot.
Unless you are working on awareness of your thoughts, most people think they have an emotion first. That’s because the emotion creates a physical sensation that gets your attention.
It takes work to start bringing the thoughts you are thinking into your awareness, so you know why you are feeling the way you are.
We tend to think of feelings as good or bad, wanted or unwanted.
What if you could change that perception and think all feelings are good because they are providing us with information, direction, and motivation that will help us create a satisfying life?
Feelings aren’t a nuisance.
It’s like the sensations our skin feels. You feel hot when you stick your hand in the oven. It’s a signal. Don’t touch the inside of the oven or you will get burned. You don’t want to get burned so you listen to the signal.
Not listening to feeling signals yields discomfort as well, but the pain builds up slowly, so we ignore it for longer.
There are three categories of feelings:
1. Primary – experienced as soon as some need, want, or desire becomes significantly unsatisfied
2. Secondary – when you don’t satisfy the need, want, or desire from the primary feeling, you greatly increase your pain byadding frustration to it
3. Tertiary – If you don’t listen to the message of frustration that you need to do something different then you were before, your frustration will lead to depression
There are 8 primary feelings, 1 secondary, & 1 tertiary feeling discussed in the book.
Here are all 10 feelings & their associated needs:
Boredom – Primary – Need to grow through challenge
Anger – Primary – Need to experience fairness for self & others
Guilt – Primary – Need to be fair to others
Sadness – Primary – Need to keep valued things & people
Loneliness – Primary – Need to have meaningful relationships
Inadequacy – Primary – Need to feel good enough/adequate
Frustration – Secondary – Need to meet needs through own efforts
Depression – Tertiary – Need to be effective & hopeful
Today I’m just going to write about Anger and Guilt to keep it short. Guilt and Anger are closely related because they are both caused by a perception of unfairness.
Guilt = I did something unfair that will either harm someone I care about or I will be harmed as a result of what I did.
Anger = I perceive that a circumstance is unfair to me or the people and things that I care about and could be harmful.
Do these 3 things when you feel angry or guilty and try to be as objective as possible:
1. Identify or name the feeling such as irritated, enraged, ashamed, blame etc.
2. Identify the cause of the feeling. Be specific about exactly why you feel angry or guilty.
3. Identify a satisfying response using these questions as a reality check
a. Is your perception of the situation accurate? Is it really unfair? Can you find any element of fairness?
b. If the situation is unfair, attempt to make it fair for both anger and guilt
c. If the situation can’t be made fair, in the case of anger forgive others, in the case of guilt forgive yourself.
The next time you find yourself feeling guilty or angry stop and ask yourself what you think is unfair in the situation. Then go through the three things above.
It’s a great way to stop an obsessive thought loop that doesn’t meet the needs your body is signaling to you.
Taking the time to stop and ask yourself those questions and do that exercise is how you figure out what you need and how you find peace with your situation.
Next week I will write part 2 and go into the other feelings 6 feelings and how not meeting them leads to frustration and depression. You will look at depression in a whole new light. It has a purpose.