In this episode, I…
Discuss what emotion, feeling and sensation are in relation to the Polyvagal Theory.
My name is Justin Sunseri.
I’m a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist obsessed with the polyvagal theory.
Welcome to Stuck Not Broken.
But before I get into things -put yourself first. I keep every episode as safe as I can, but just by the nature of the topics, you may experience some stuff come up. Take a break if you need to.
This podcast is not therapy, nor intended to be a replacement for therapy.
TOPIC - EMOTION, FEELING & SENSATION
Often used interchangeably
How i am defining these
Like a scaffolding, one built on top of the other
Emotion is the outward expression of feeling - emoting
Smiling, hugging, pulling back with eyes wide, eyebrows downward and nose crinkled upward
Feelings are the conscious awareness and experience of bodily sensations
Not necessarily a mindful awareness
More like just aware and naming the feelings
Sadness, anger, dread, anxiety...
Sensations are the physiological shifts happening in the body itself
Thoughts, images are cognitions from the mind which stem from these pieces
Temperature, texture, color, time of bodily sensations, muscle tension or relaxation, spontaneous postures
Emotions built on feelings, feelings built on sensations
TOPIC - POLYVAGAL THEORY & EMOTION
Emotions are the result of feelings
Feelings are the result of autonomic sensations
Autonomic shifts are the result of neuroceptions
Neuroceptions are the result of encoded DNA responses to certain stimuli
DNA encoding is the result of evolutionary natural selection
Natural selection is the success of traits that are adaptive to the local environment that result in the trait being passed on through reproduction
Okay too far with the breakdown
Emotions are the expression of feelings, feelings are the experience of indirectly felt sensations
When sensations are not experienced directly, they turn into feelings
This comes from lingering autonomic ladder shifts that are not felt
Living in a shutdown state daily will feel like sadness, hopelessness
But under that is emptiness, shame, being in a void, heaviness, darkness, disconnection, numbness, cold, neverending, drained, tired - Often in the stomach or whole body
Closer to the experience in the body
Behaviorally show up as lethargy, isolating, over-sleeping
TOPIC - NEUROCEPTION & STATE
Emotions from feelings, feelings from sensations, sensations from neuroceptions
The neurocepting of safety, danger or life threat is the catalyst for all of this
Faulty neuroception can lead to feelings and behaviors that are not appropriate for the situation
Faulty neuroception comes from existing in a stuck defensive state
Stuck in a fight sympathetic state and then going to work will set you up for interactions that will be reinforced through that state and confirm the fight energy
This is lingering unfelt sensations, leading to feelings of anger and aggression and irritability, leading to behaviors that correspond
Safety - ventral vagal
Behaviors of: being close to others, hugs, playfulness, eye crinkles, prosody
Feelings of: connection, joy, calm, relaxation, awe
Sensations of: clarity, lightness, expansiveness
Flight - sympathetic
Behaviors of: distractible, keeping busy, leg shaking, picking at self
Feelings of: anxiety, worry, nervousness
Sensations of: higher heart rate, tense muscles, chest pressure
Fight - sympathetic
Behaviors of: clenched fists, teeth grinding, hitting, yelling
Feelings of: anger, irritation, aggression, pressure
Sensations of: higher heart rate, tense muscles esp in arms and upper body, pressure on chest, power/not anger
TOPIC - WHY THIS MATTERS
Clarity in discussing with a therapist what is happening within you
Clarity in understanding what is happening within you
Clarity in differentiating these pieces in real time
Being able to ‘dig deeper’ to the root of the present moment experience
We get stuck and overwhelmed with thoughts
But parallel to that is the emotion and bodily sensations
Feelings are still feelings and validation is helpful
No right or wrong
Validation, not indulgence
You do feel the feelings, they are real
But may come from faulty neuroceptions or from a stuck state that is incorrectly reading the situation
But the feelings are still real
So validate, maybe normalize the stuck state
Then dig deeper if you can and experience the state itself
THANKS SO MUCH FOR LISTENING!
I hope you’ve learned something new to help you climb your polyvagal ladder.
Polyvagal 101 - https://www.justinlmft.com/polyvagalclarity
Building Safety Anchors - https://www.justinlmft.com/challenge-page/5180d0d1-fa0d-4833-8a96-b41546791435/
Intro/Outro music & Transition Sounds by Benjo Beats - https://soundcloud.com/benjobeats
National Suicide Prevention Hotline - 1 (800) 273-8255
National Domestic Violence Hotline -1 (800) 799-7233
LGBT Trevor Project Lifeline - 1 (866) 488-7386
National Sexual Assault Hotline - 1 (800) 656-4673
Crisis Text Line - Text “HOME” to 741741
Call 911 for emergency
This podcast is not therapy, not intended to be therapy or be a replacement for therapy. Nothing in this creates or indicates a therapeutic relationship. Please consult with your therapist or seek for one in your area if you are experiencing mental health sx. Nothing in this podcast should be construed to be specific life advice; it is for educational and entertainment purposes only.