I’m just a recovering engineer with a fascination for life mysteries. One of which plagued me early was wh at are feelings? Why do we have feelings? Why would our creator be so terrible as to design them into us? Why are we constantly at war with them?
I tried to find some answers in philosophy, psychology, religion, science, AI and just the peanut gallery of opinion. Nothing that I found on the subject was believable. Although the theories and teachings claimed that they were authoritative and truth from heaven, the evidence was not there. Either I was confused by the thick rhetoric or I was one without “faith.”
The stated goals of some theories on feelings were admirable – to eliminate fear, anxiety, depression, stress, chronic pain, envy, anger, hate, etc, the bad boys that plague us in our daily lives. From those we learn that we need to conquer, control, manage, ignore or relax those negative feelings out of our existence.
But, I managed to convince myself that if I were to ignore feelings or try to relax them away, I was throwing away information. I could not accept that feelings were negative or bad in any way, aside from that they were sometimes painful. They were not some appendage left over from our prehistoric days or a creator’s back door left open to punish us when we got out of line.
So began my own speculations. My starting premise is that feelings are physical; the evidence was overwhelming, since I could feel pain or pleasure viscerally. Secondly, we have feelings for a very good reason; they must be useful. I was later to learn that they are more than useful – their application gave us power.
This is my process – Feelings Intelligence (FI).
1) When we get a feeling, first identify the feeling, it’s got a name, for example, fear.
2) Thank your self for having sent the message to you, and invite the feeling in, because they are our best friends looking out for our safety and well being.
3) Listen to the message the feeling brings. For example, fear’s message is that something facing us is potentially harmful. OK, mission accomplished, “guest” invited in and our thinking has been informed by our feeling’s message.
4) Our consciousness has been alerted to the danger lurking and this has informed our thinking. We can then ask: What is the danger? What/Who is behind it? How can we overcome it? Our thinking has to conjure various scenarios before we know what is the best course of action. Fear, like all the rest of our feelings, only shows up when we need him.
5) There are no extra feelings, or too many feelings. They are specific in time and place, and required to survive and thrive. Feelings are real and a personalized truth. They only come when needed and the urgency to us is wrapped in their intensity.
Feelings Intelligence teaches that all feelings have another dimension, an intensity. For example anxiety, on a scale from 1 – 10, can come as “mild worry” to “panic mode.” In addition the name of the feeling, anxiety, can have more than a hundred other expressions that carry the same message. Expressions like dreaded, antsy, apprehensive, butterflies, clutched, concerned, disquieted, distressed, disturbed, fidgety, fretful, hyper, jittery, jumpy, nervous, overwrought, restless, etc. are all word expressions of the feeling, anxiety, varying only perhaps in intensity or quality.
Furthermore, anxiety is only one of maybe fifty other feelings each with a different message. Below is a list of some of the other primitives and their corresponding messages with their trigger, object, or words. They represent the piece of our interaction universe, which spawns our feeling message to give us our “solution search space.”
accepted – subject has been taken member to the trigger after vetting.
amorous – the trigger completes subject in a profound way.
anger – that which confronts the subject is unfair, incorrect or unjust
anxious – the trigger is imminent or approaching and the subject is insufficiently prepared, prepare.
apathy – something is awry or malfunctioning with subject, seek remedy.
bored – The subject has available time, segue to another activity.
compassion – trigger requires subject’s attention and help.
confident – a degree of certainty that subject has for a successful outcome regarding contemplated object.
connected – subject’s communication will be well understood by object.
depressed – Something is fatally awry, subject is headed wrong way.
disconnected – get connected
disrespected – subject status as viewed by trigger is reduced.
doubt – subject should check veracity of their information or source.
envy – object will add value to subject.
excited – marks an important event, anticipates a pleasurable expectation.
fear – object poses a potential harm.
frustration – Subjects insufficient time to trigger at current rate or manner, look for another way or reschedule.
greed – subject’s future is better if engaged in acquiring the trigger.
guilt – Subject made a mistake but can set things right, apologize and make amends.
happy – subject did or is performing well, correct, or received good result.
hate – subject doesn’t understand trigger and interaction currently will not lead to a good result. Get understanding first.
helpless – subject should get help against threat object.
hopeless – subject should find hope to prevail against object.
humiliated – acknowledge trigger that confronts subject.
hunger – obtain sustenance or satisfy/fulfill the immediate desire for object.
interested – subject should focus and obtain information about the object.
inspired – subject has found valuable solution or creation and is aware of none better.
joyous – subject can celebrate the trigger or profound experience.
lonely – subject should reach out for social interaction
optimistic – subject’s knowledge and experience predicts a positive outcome.
pain – subject is physically hurt or damaged.
passion – pursue subject’s trigger because outcome will be powerful.
peaceful – subject is fully recharged and ready for activity.
rejection – Subject has not met with object’s criteria for trust.
resentment – investment of subject’s time, energy, or efforts on the trigger will not be returned, move on.
sad – subject has suffered a loss, account for the reality and repair.
satiated – subject’s capacity for more is complete.
shame – subject violated trigger group norm, backlash can be expected.
stressed – subject has insufficient energy to function with daily occurrences or meet routine events.
surprised – react and recheck your calculation basis because this was not the expected result, your assumptions were wrong.
tired – subject’s energy reserves are low and need recharging
trust – subject’s reliance on trigger is reasonable.
unappreciated – subject’s effort, quality, or worth was not adequately demostrated or recognized.
uncomfortable – without change, object’s incremental changing will affect subject in a detrimental way.
The world around us is highly dynamic, and our experience and innate knowledge cannot be accessed quickly enough to act in realtime. My theory is feelings were developed to speed access to relevant information, so that we could act timely, where we had little time to ponder or focused elsewhere. When we feel anxious, the message of anxiety is that something is coming up for us that we are not ready for, so we need to prepare for it. Anxiety, as well as other feelings, gives us a type of prescience. Preparing will take up all the time we have available and the intensity of the anxiety tells us how long that is.
Feelings Intelligence teaches us to be proactive about feelings, that we learn the meaning of each feeling, aka the message. Feelings are not some ethereal wisp or wind that rushes through only to leave us in pain because of a “human condition.” Feelings are the most useful information that we get on a daily basis, and that is the reason that we have them. We ignore, minimize, control or manage them at our peril. While being mindful can help, addressing the feelings messages provides a way to use the power of our innate wisdom and experience, applying that mystery within us with diamond cutting precision to make all the difference on our journey to find purpose.
You can obtain a copy of Learning Elephant at Amazon:
or on my website for Feelings Intelligence
I have included the Rumi’s “Guest House” below, from which I received much inspiration for the book, “Learning Elephant“.
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
Still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
Rumi – 13th Century Philosopher