Feel Some Type of Way
Updated: Sep 21, 2022
“I know you feel some type of way.”
In 2013, rapper Rich Homie Quan released a song entitled “Type of Way” which reached certified gold in 2014. Lyrics include, “Okay, now. Let’s be real, I know you feel some type of way.”
What type of way? That’s precisely what the current entry aims to discover.
Often, I hear people use the word “feel” in place of that which relates to thoughts. “I don’t know what I feel like eating,” “I feel you’re saying that to hurt me,” and, “I feel some type of way,” all may be expressed.
I comprehend what message is likely being relayed when using the word “feel” in this way. Still, I wonder if substituting the word “think” in its place may be more useful in certain situations.
Here’s why I think it’s important.
When working with clients, I use psychoeducation to differentiate between cognitions, emotions, and bodily sensations. Thoughts and feelings are different things.
When describing cognition (thoughts), I appreciate how one source suggests, “Some of the many different cognitive processes include thinking, knowing, remembering, judging, and problem-solving.”
Rather than stating, “I feel you don’t love me anymore,” one could accurately express, “I think you don’t love me anymore.” Some may think I’m being pedantic, though I could erroneously state, “I feel I disagree.”
I think word use—especially as it relates to my work as a psychotherapist—matters. Misusing thoughts in place of feelings can be confusing.
There is disagreement in the mental and behavioral health field regarding feelings and emotions. As well, people can’t seem to agree as to how many core emotions there are.
Per one source, “While emotions are associated with bodily reactions that are activated through neurotransmitters and hormones released by the brain, feelings are the conscious experience of emotional reactions.”
Confused yet? I conceptualize a feeling as that which occurs in the mind and body. For instance, since neurons play a role in thought formation, the brain (hardware) impacts the mind (software).
Suppose I walk into a room and smell rotting meat. Almost instantaneously I may think, “What is that!?” (cognition), feel nauseous (bodily sensation), experience disgust (emotion), and physically retreat from the room (behavior).
One action results in a series of reactions. For more information about this mind-body interplay, I invite you to read my blog entry entitled Mind Tricks.
When thinking about feelings, I tend to favor Disney Pixar’s Inside Out representation of five core emotions as they relate to joy, fear, anger, sorrow, and disgust. These have been addressed elsewhere as Darwinian emotions.
Generally, when I speak of feelings, I mean one of two things. One, I refer to feelings as emotions (i.e., joy, fear, anger, sorrow, disgust, etc.). Two, I relate feelings to bodily sensations (i.e., tightness in the chest, tingling in the legs, queasy stomach, etc.).
For further information about this process, perhaps you will find worth in reviewing bodily maps of emotions.
To sum up how I differentiate thoughts from feelings: Cognitions are the function of the mind, emotions are the result of the mind-body connection, and bodily sensations are experienced in the body, processed in the brain, and interpreted by the mind.
I practice Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). When doing so, I listen closely for should, must, and ought statements which play a key role in how people disturb themselves.
Sometimes referred to as “stinkin’ thinkin’,” this sort of irrational cognition has “little or no basis in reality.” The following examples may be worth considering:
· I should never burden others with my problems.
· Others must respect me at all times.
· I’m so overwhelmed with life, I ought to give up.
· People better not upset me.
· I have to be perfect.
REBT uses the ABC Model to demonstrate how this self-disturbance occurs. It’s also used to teach people how to dispute irrational thinking.
For more information on the nuances of this model, I encourage you to read my blog entry entitled Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), as the current post will not deconstruct how the technique works.
How we communicate actually matters
It isn’t my intention to imply that others shouldn’t misuse the word feel. Rather, I invite you to consider whether or not the way you communicate with yourself and others achieves your goals.
For example, do you find that using “feel,” rather than “think,” is effective? Which of the following sentences do you think would accurately represent your position when communicating with someone about your experience?
In common parlance, one may say, “I don’t feel like writing a blog entry today.”
An alternative statement could be, “I don’t think I want to write a blog entry today.”
What’s the significant difference between these two examples? Does it matter what one says as long as the receiver of a message understands what’s being communicated?
The difference is clearly identified by substituting actual feelings (emotions or bodily sensations) in place of thinking. Consider the following options.
“I don’t angry like writing a blog entry,” “I don’t sad writing a post at all,” or, “I don’t fear writing a blog entry today.” The latter would make sense if one is expressing a direct relation to emotion, though not thought.
Setting emotions aside, let’s try bodily sensations. How about the following examples?
“I don’t tightness in my shoulder writing today,” “I don’t throbbing in my head writing,” or, “I don’t sore eyes writing a blog entry today.” Clearly, none of these are appropriate.
In order for our communication to matter, expressing oneself as accurately and clearly as possible may be worth considering. What do you think about the following sentences?
“I don’t think writing is what I want to do today,” I think writing isn’t something I desire right now,” or, “Right now, I think writing sucks, so I’ll try again tomorrow.”
Being as charitable to the reader as I can imagine, I agree that mixing thoughts, feelings, or experiences may better represent one’s sentiment. While some people may confuse feelings with experience, I’ll clarify what I mean.
Not everyone may agree that happiness is an experience versus an emotion, despite the example from an infographic for the current blog entry. I disagree.
I tend to think of happiness involving the emotion of joy plus elements of fulfilment, derived purpose or meaning, peace in the moment, having needs met, and other factors. It’s an accumulation of different elements.
Likewise, also in contradiction to the infographic, I don’t consider hesitance as being an emotion. Rather, it may involve the emotions of fear or disgust, as well as a cognitive element (e.g., “I don’t want to”) and a behavioral component (i.e., resisting, avoiding, etc.).
In this regard, experience combines a number of qualities and not simply a cognition, emotion, or bodily sensation. With this understanding, consider the following options.
“I’m lazy [experience] today and don’t think [cognition] I’ll actually write a blog entry,” “My wrists hurt [bodily sensation] and I don’t think [cognition] that typing anything is in my best interest for now,” or, “I’m lethargic [experience], have a headache [bodily sensation], and don’t think [cognition] I can focus well enough to write a blog post.”
Why does any of this matter? The simple answer is it may not matter to you in the slightest. The process of semantic change—word use changing over time—explains how the word “literally” can now mean “virtually.”
The way we communicate doesn’t remain constant. Still, I maintain that how we communicate does actually matter.
I’m not here to say what you or others ought to do. If you choose to refer to joy as “cup,” anger as “pencil,” or sorrow as “alligator stew,” I support your right to do so.
I advocate proper word usage when working with the complexity of human emotion and behavior. It can be confusing enough to define what happiness is, much less than to describe what one can do to achieve it.
There are many differing perspectives in the mental and behavioral health field concerning this matter. I know plenty of practitioners who promote clients to use “feel” in place of “think,” perhaps due to the popularity of emotional validation.
Using REBT, I don’t seek to dispute, challenge, or invalidate feelings or emotions. The consequences of unhelpful cognitions—self-disturbing beliefs (thoughts)—are what I assist clients with disputing.
Mislabeling thoughts, beliefs, views, perspectives, and interpretations as “feelings” creates confusion. For instance:
Scenario one: “I feel like you never listen to me.” If feelings are understood to be emotions, one cannot invalidate this claim. Where does one go from there, other than to accept the accusation?
Scenario two: “I think you never listen to me.” Proper word use occurring in this instance allows for assessment and disputation. Example: Is it true that that the person never listens? Might your thought about listening be wrong?
I suspect that part of what complicates this issue is that even research data conflates thoughts with feelings. While there are seemingly countless studies I could highlight, I’ll choose only three to demonstrate my point.
Source 1 provides an example of supposedly effective communication by testing the phrase, “I am not feeling great about this[,] because I don’t feel like I am receiving a fair deal.”
While one may not “feel great,” I would encourage a client to describe what that means. Does one feel angry, frustrated, irritated, etc.?
Also, the phrase, “I don’t feel like I am receiving a fair deal,” could better be described with a thought-based statement like, “I don’t think I’m receiving a fair deal.” It’s a small, though meaningful difference.
Source 2 suggests, “[A] key psychological difference between dominant and non-dominant groups that must be addressed by effective interventions is that the latter often feel disempowered, objectiﬁed[,] and voiceless.”
I italicize “must,” because it’s a term I assess in my sessions. That aside, stating that groups “feel disempowered, objectified[,] and voiceless” could use some restructuring.
First, how does one assess how a group feels about anything? Even if a sample of 10 people revealed that six of them preferred corndogs to salad, the data doesn’t accurately represent salad eaters in the group.
In my practice, I focus on individuals, because this is where change begins. For more information about how little control a person has in this regard, I invite you to read my blog entry entitled Circle of Control.
Second, what emotion or bodily sensation is associated with disempowerment, objectification, and not having a voice? A person may disturb oneself into various consequences (feelings) with thoughts about perceived injustices, though these are not emotions or bodily sensations.
Rather, I can think about being disempowered, believe one has been objectified, or perceive a voiceless experience. These are all cognitive, not emotive (feelings), elements.
Source 3 states, “Highly assertive people may recognize that others see them as pushing too hard—they may just care more about winning than making others feel good.”
I chose this example, because it applies to the goal of REBT. My aim when working with clients isn’t to help them feel better, though to assist them with getting better.
Feeling good or better is a subjective experience. I could ask 100 people what it means to feel good, and likely receive many answers. This is why my aim isn’t to assist people with feeling better.
Suppose I sat in session and told Wilhelmina how wonderful, perfect, and valuable she is. How would praise impact her life outside session in a meaningful way?
It may be cathartic—relieving in some way—for me to validate Wilhelmina, though I aim to help clients by providing them the ability to resolve their own issues. This fosters independence.
Rather than establishing a codependent relationship in which she feels better after each session, Wilhelmina learns to push through the discomfort of the psychotherapeutic process so that she may get better.
How we communicate matters. It matters by allowing us to appropriately frame what we think, what our emotions are, what sensations occur within the body, and how we behave in relation to this experience.
A person saying, “I’m alligator stew,” simply isn’t as effective or helpful as stating, “I feel sad.” Likewise, someone declaring, “You feel some type of way,” isn’t as beneficial as suggesting, “I think you’re upset.”
Potential criticisms of my stance, and responses
REBT uses disputation—a form of challenging beliefs—and I would be remiss not to address foreseeable challenges to my stance. In the interest of charitable criticism, I present the following.
Criticism 1) As people commonly use “feel” rather than “think,” perhaps I’m a little too rigid in my attachment to grammatical rules. Admittedly—and I suppose those who read my blog entries likely know—I’m not gifted in the art of grammar, so who am I to judge?
Therefore, it doesn’t actually matter whether feel or think is used. If Rupert understands when Wilhelmina says, “I feel like you’re ignoring me,” the understood message is what matters.
Response: I make no claim that others should, must, or ought to agree with me. You have the choice to agree with me, disagree, or choose another option. I provide my perspective regarding feeling versus thinking so it may benefit those who may apply understanding of my proposals.
Criticism 2) The scientific method, stoicism, and existentialism used in REBT may not consider the phenomenon of intuition, “[T]hat feeling in your gut when you instinctively know that something you are doing is right or wrong.”
Sometimes people feel an unexplainable drive that may not represent thinking, emotion, or a bodily sensation. This experience is unverifiable and unfalsifiable, so attempting to dispute it is pointless.
Consequently, it doesn’t actually matter whether feel or think is used in this context. If Wilhelmina feels a sensation that cannot be categorized, saying she can “feel some time of way” is accurate.
Response: A gut feeling is a bodily sensation. Determination of right versus wrong requires cognition. Interpreting what a feeling in my stomach does or doesn’t mean, and whether or not this is a moral indication of how I should live, is irrational. You have the option not to be rational.
Criticism 3) Similar to the matter of intuition, many people claim to feel a spiritually-based drive, motivation, or experience. Logic and rational thinking cannot refute this process.
Suppose I state that the color of nothingness is blue. Prove me wrong. It’s an unfalsifiable claim. You can’t present evidence to prove or disprove it.
Accordingly, declaring that when a person is involved in spiritual worship and may “feel some type of way”—from a perceivably divine source—who am I to use logic and rationale to dispute the experience?
Response: Spiritually-based faith doesn’t require empirical evidence, as it’s used to “refer to a conviction or confidence in something.” Faith is a belief, and a belief is thought-based. If one chooses to refer to a thought as a feeling, see my response to Criticism 1.
As well, that which cannot be disputed, because of its supernatural or spiritual association, is as unfalsifiable as the statement, “The color of nothingness is blue.” You may choose to live your life based on such a construct.
Criticism 4) Perhaps the most frequent pushback I receive to the REBT technique is something like, “This makes sense rationally, but it doesn’t feel right,” or, “I get it logically, though I don’t feel it.”
When asking for clarity to such challenge, I generally hear about how one may “feel” has little to do with logic (e.g., A+B=C) and rational thinking (e.g., If I want to be productive in the morning I need to get out of bed when my alarm sounds).
Even when adjusting for replacement of “feel” with “think,” I’ve been told about some unobservable process influencing behavior. Think of the person who says, “I’m never going to [eat/drink/smoke/snort/etc. something] again,” cognitively committing to the goal, yet winds up doing otherwise.
Rupert says he’s committed to not using escapism, because he needs to finish his work instead of binge-watching a series, though he continues wasting time. A rational goal may be determined ahead of the behavior while the person expresses having felt an urge to do otherwise.
Hence, temptation, compulsion, and impulse are said not to fit with thought-driven behavior as much as they relate to something that is felt. It doesn’t have to be logical or rational for this to be true.
Response: Rather than challenging this form of pushback, I invite people to consider alternatives. Suppose I’m wrong and there is a force you can’t explain that drives your behavior.
This isn’t a factor of thought, emotion, or a function of the body. It could be intuitive, spiritual, magical, or otherwise. Let’s say that’s the case.
What alternative serves you best—foregoing the REBT process, continuing to disturb yourself, allowing maladaptive behavior to take you down a path upon which you don’t wish to travel, or what?
How does it serve your interests to simply reject personal responsibility and accountability, all for the possibility that some unknown force is in control of your behavior?
These are questions that cannot be answered by me.
If I could summarize the process of mental and behavioral health, it would be: Do more of that which serves you well and less of that which doesn’t.
How do the aforementioned criticisms of my stance serve you? Is it easier to criticize me than to challenge how you communicate?
After reading this post, do you “feel some type of way”? If so, use your words. How do you feel?
As a psychotherapist, and hip hop head from the old school, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.
At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!
If my approach to REBT sounds like something in which you may be interested, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.
Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW
Photo credit and photo credit (blended), fair use
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