There are many important dimensions with regard to feelings as sources of information. As with all information we have to evaluate the truth/probability and the quality of the information that triggered the feeling.
If we are scared of spiders and we see one we will get highly aroused by fear and move briskly away from it even if it is a harmless spider that is not dangerous. If we think that spiders are interesting animals we might feel curious and move closer to the spider to see the colouring and fine details of the spiderweb.
The intensity of feelings is sometimes labelled ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ depending on how much arousal they generate in the nervous system. Hot feelings create high arousal combined with a strong impulse to act and cold emotions low level of arousal. The term hot mirrors the warm sensations we get from cortisol and adrenaline as well as the sensation when the blood flows out towards the large muscle groups in the limbs preparing the body for movement.
On the scale 1 to 10 lower ratings of the emotions are colder and higher ratings hotter. For example low level of anger is cold irritation while fury is hot. Happiness ranges from cold satisfaction to hot joy and ecstasy, fear from cold concern to hot terror, sadness from cold sorrow/blues to hot despair, surprise from cold curiosity to hot chock and disgust from cold offense to hot revulsion.
Hence, how we evaluate the situation affects both what we feel and how strongly, which will trigger a physical reaction. Even if we know our fear is disproportionately strong, the feeling first has to be acknowledged as described in last week’s post, which per se calms the body. Thereafter you can talk to yourself about the realism in your fear to regulate down the emotion even more.
If you are high in the intensity of the feeling so that you are in fight-flight mode, you first might have to regulate down the intensity of the feeling by physiological techniques to be able to reappraise the situation. If so, use the techniques I described in the post from Tuesday about how to decrease high stress/corticol levels. #feelingsexercise
#reframing #affectawareness #hotandcoldfeelings