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Surfing Emotions

Hello and welcome, 

I extend my sincere thanks to all participants of our recent workshop on April 27th, 2024. Your presence, engagement, and curiosity truly enriched our discussions. Together, we explored the nuanced differences between Emotions and Feelings and briefly touched on the concept of Moods.

I am also grateful for your generous donations, which reflect your appreciation for our time together.

 It was a pleasure to delve into these topics with such an enthusiastic group.


Surfing Emotions


Exploring the Depths of Emotions

After extensive research, I find myself more drawn to the relevance of emotions in our lives. It has become a subject that captivates me deeply. One of the most notable insights I've gathered through my reflections is our culture's inadequate accommodation of emotions.

Since childhood, we're often taught to view emotions as disruptive forces, to be suppressed or concealed. This societal conditioning frequently leads to what I refer to as the "breaking the dam" phenomenon, where emotions suddenly burst forth—often uncontrollably. We experience them as uncomfortable, thus we try to avoid them as long as possible. However, this period is short.

Let us try something else. How about spotlighting emotions instead?

The Interplay Between Thoughts and Feelings 

There's considerable debate swirling around what comes first: thoughts shaping feelings, or feelings shaping thoughts. Who's to say for certain? Reflecting on this, I realized that maybe this question misses the mark entirely. Let's look deeper.

It seems to me that the relationship between thoughts and feelings is more nuanced than a simple linear causation. Instead, they dance together in a complex interplay, each influencing and shaping the other in a constant feedback loop.

Consider this: our thoughts often arise from the interpretation of our feelings, but those same thoughts can also influence how we perceive and experience those feelings. It's like a swirling vortex where one moment a thought pulls us into an emotion, and the next, that emotion shapes how we interpret subsequent thoughts.

This dynamic interaction between thoughts and feelings is crucial to understanding our inner world.

It's not merely about which comes first, but how they coalesce to create our subjective experience of reality. Perhaps it's not about prioritizing one over the other but recognizing their intricate dance and learning to navigate it with awareness and insight.


may I suggest a Coaching Session with me? As a Focusing Coach, I will guide you through the cascade of your emotions, feelings, and moods.

Wanting. Wondering. Worrying. 


Let's Examine Emotions

There are numerous opinions and scientific theories on the true nature of emotions. I'm not a scientist, and my knowledge is limited. However, as a life coach seeking a practical perspective, I'm interested in finding the most effective ways to assist my clients. That's what motivated my research.

When my clients bring deep emotions into our sessions (assuming they don't require therapy), what should I do with them? Should I identify the underlying thought and apply some thought-dissolving technique?

I often found this approach unsatisfying. Why? Because I discovered that emotionally charged clients aren't necessarily inclined to engage their cognitive faculties in those moments. They don't want to debate, rationalize, analyze, or dissect. (That's been my experience.) As coaches, we must tread carefully in this realm because it intersects with the domain of therapists.

However, we're all aware of this and have been trained to act appropriately.

The Theory of Emotional Intelligence

provided many answers for me. I especially found many explanations in the work of "6 Seconds," the company founded by Joshua Freedman. Emotional Intelligence (EI) is the ability to recognize, understand, and manage both our own emotions and those of others effectively. It encompasses qualities such as self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, and social skills. Developing emotional intelligence can lead to improved relationships, better decision-making, and overall well-being. I invite you to explore Freedman's films, which offer easy-to-understand insights and provide a solid background on the topic.T

Astonishing Findings

Emotions and feelings, contrary to common belief, are not synonymous.

Emotions are physiological responses, sparked by either external stimuli or internal occurrences of significance. In an evolutionary context, they served as our ancestors' survival mechanisms when faced with challenges in their environment, triggering Fight-Flight-Freeze responses. However, in modern times, we encounter more intricate emotional dilemmas that may not always be traumatic. Let's trace the biological trajectory of an emotion.

It Takes Six Seconds

Emotions aren't personal; they're universal.

They apply to all of humanity. Every one of us. While there are some minor variations across cultures, they mostly pertain to the intensity of an emotion. Western cultures tend to favor High Arousal (Negative) Emotions, whereas Eastern cultures lean towards Low Arousal (Positive) Emotions. Arousal refers to the energy behind an emotion.

From the moment an emotion is triggered, it has a lifespan of about six seconds. 

It requires a significant amount of trained awareness to catch it within that timeframe and effectively counterbalance it.

Let's take a closer look.

Emotions Are Part Of Human Biology

Emotions are biochemicals!

They serve to regulate our minds and bodies. An interesting fact is that they are always present, circulating within our bodies day and night in cycles lasting approximately 90 minutes. This didn't surprise me greatly, as I've been studying the I - Ching and its Daoist background for several years. This aligns with what the Chinese understand about our Chi energy, which moves along our meridians, shifting from one to the next in two-hour cycles, balancing Yin and Yang energies.

This circulating pre-emotional energy (as I term it) is poised at any moment to take action.

Here Are About Eight Basic Emotions

People often love numbers, and naturally, there's a lot of variation in determining the exact number of emotions. If we differentiate between emotions and feelings (of which there are many more variations), we can say the numbers range from 6 to about 17 different emotions. I apologize to all scientists whose valuable work I may not be familiar with. Here's some background:

Paul Ekman, a leading psychologist in this field, postulated in 1979 that there are 6 basic emotions: Fear, Disgust, Anger, Surprise, Joy, and Sadness. In 1997, he added 7 more emotions: Embarrassment, Excitement, Contempt, Shame, Pride, Satisfaction, Amusement. Comes to 13 emotions on his scale.

Robert Plutchik came from another angle. He had studied animal behavior for many years and discovered that his findings were transferable to human beings. He found 8 basic emotions, which he saw in opposing pairs:

Joy – Sadness

Anger – Fear

Trust – Disgust

Surprise – Anticipation​

Plutchnik displayed these eight emotions in a circular graph, which may remind you of the enneagrams. Like the enneagram, Plutchnik sees relational importance in the winging emotions, as well as in the ones on the opposing side.

I am linking you to 6 Second's Site below.​

The Wheel of Emotions ​

The company does not only have a fantastic display of the Wheel of Emotions, but it is also interactive. It is a very useful tool for us coaches, as we gain insights into the balancing powers of emotions.​ To explain the Wheel in-depth exceeds the possibilities of this summary, but I encourage you to play around with it. 

In coaching sessions, this might give you some ideas as to what are related emotions/feelings to the ones your client named.

I often use them as prompts.

Emotions Are Contagious

When you ride on a train and sit next to a person undergoing strong emotions, your biological field will pick it up. From my shamanic background, I would like to remind you that you need to cleanse and seal your energetic field (about one arm's length around your body) before you enter any kind of crowd. Use breathing, colors, and images.

Before I go into any coaching session I do just that! I brighten up my field (which I call the "bubble"), and I ask that it may be protected from negative influxes.) 

So Then What Are Feelings?

After our emotions have triggered a 6-second chemical surge into our body, specific cells quickly absorb and amplify this information in what's termed the "Cascade." It's only then that we begin to "feel" that something is happening.

Interestingly, the English language offers more words for feelings than for emotions, which proves valuable for precisely naming them. In Focusing we call this moment of clearly naming it "The handle", we now have a grip on them.

Particularly in pinpointing the perfect term, the Wheel of Emotions, as outlined by Plutchik, proves very practical. Watch how the pedals in Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions taper down in intensity. Basic emotions turn into feelings.  Why?

Because there's a loop between feeling and thinking, a rapid back-and-forth movement that helps us make sense of what's occurring. This cognitive influence allows us to generate numerous descriptions and relate them to things we already comprehend. This is both advantageous and disadvantageous because another crucial aspect comes into play:

Feelings are influenced by subjective perception

Meaning, the same emotion might generate various feelings among the people experiencing it. It is interpretative and therefore people's different backgrounds and experiences come into play. 

Feelings last longer than emotions, because they involve this loop with the cognitive parts of our brain. The findings of this search mode greatly influence what action we will choose to take. 

Again, how long a feeling may last requires more scientific knowledge than I can provide. I know that Jill Bolte Taylor calls out 90 seconds. ​

Actions and Behaviors

In summary, one could say that how we finally react to an emotional impulse depends on the kind and amount of cognitive spice added to it. There is a lot to be learned by each individual about the modulation of feelings.​


Where change can happen

This page wouldn't bear my signature (as a Focusing Coach) if I didn't talk about Bodywork. We learned above that Feelings are bodily (cellular) reactions. They are psychological in effect.

In this environment we can do wonderful work with our clients, taming aroused feelings.

Our Body will give us information about the circumstances, the How, the Why, and the Where.


This is where a deeply listening coach can provide invaluable help. Know the emotions that triggered the process and find what feeling the personal loop of feeling and thinking wants to express. Listen to the words your client is finding. Look at the wheel, what is next to it? Offer it. Let it flow...

I thank you for your interest in my work. Be well.


If you are curious to experience this work, allow me to turn your attention to my Booking Page. 


Find the Recording of the Zoom Workshop here.


Feel Free to download the PDF with the Coaching Questions that were mentioned in the Workshop.


Sign in to the Feeling State 

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