emotional body signatures


I first saw this image in peter Levine’s book Trauma and Memory.

We experience emotions in our body – but what if our past experiences have overwhelmed us and we’ve become disconnected from how that feels ?

Some therapists would have it that emotions are words we put on a scale of 1 to ten
But how do we knowhow we feel? how do we know how to name it?
How on earth do we know how to rate it on a scale of one-to-ten ?

How about rating this on a scale of one to ten…?

– f#ck you.

When feeling it so powerfully for so long becomes too much for us we might shut it down. If so we don’t feel it: we’re  left instead with uneasy feeling of knowing we ought to feel something but don’t feel, cant feel. We can’t feel i it but also need it to go away.
We can’t even remember how it felt, except that it felt – and feels – too scary to feel.

Sometimes it’s easier to locate where we feel it…

and work it backwards from there.

Where do you feel it in your body?

Shout out to Antonio Damassio and his book Descartes Error. First book I ever read that said to me my experience in this world was valid. Always been told my emotions were wrong, too much, all in my head: whatever insult you want to throw, I’ve heard it.

Antonio Damassio’s book told me that this is how my body – our human body- has evolved, how it’s designed to work . On top of that he shows us the critical place and role of feeling and emotion as well as thought.

Word-based-thought is way overrated as a means of communicating – it only covers a tiny part of what we experience, and what we can experience. Words can also only convey a portion of the complexity of existing, let alone the further complexity of contemplating and pontificating upon ourselves contemplating our own existenz.
Word-based-thought  is  useful,  it’s just not everything .

Words don’t mean what they say,
can’t say what they mean.
  -Wordy Rappinghood

Descartes’ error was in stating it elegantly but missing out a huge chunk:
We don’t exist because we think, we can think because we feel.
Embracing our feeling, emotional,  thinking whole as but part of a greater whole is how we can come to be a thing that we can call “I”.

When feelings overwhelm our body- and so  overwhelm us – thinking goes out the window, goes all chaotic or shuts down – because we’re in survival mode.

Where do you feel that  in your body?

Maybe this emotional body signature might help you unravel and map and name your own experiences.

If you want the science-y stuff behind it here’s the pdf of the science-y about how it came about.

Bodily maps of emotions

Lauri Nummenmaa, Enrico Glereana , Riitta Harib, and Jari K. Hietanend.


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