Anger can be a primary emotion

Emotions + concepts of feeling

Emotions: What causes the distinction between primary, secondary and pseudo feelings in conflict

of: Al alarms
in: Spectrum of Mediation, Issue 44 / 4th Quarter 2011 (December 2011)

The bottleneck in dealing with a conflict is the moment when the parties to the dispute mutually understand each other's needs. But what if strong feelings repeatedly lead to mutual accusations, devaluations, fear or resignation? As a supervisor, I experience numerous mediations in which the mediation team can perfectly grasp and express what the parties to the dispute are about on the level of needs. Nevertheless, those involved do not want to move from their positions.

The feedback from the conflicting parties shows that it is difficult for people to switch to an intellectual level if their feelings are not clearly recorded and named beforehand. Recognizing feelings intuitively creates security and connection, which leads to a reduction in stress and increased awareness. In this process, the distinction between real feelings and pseudo-feelings is crucial. The repetition of pseudo-feelings leads straight to the entanglement, the naming of real feelings leads to growing understanding and respect

Emotions cannot be controlled willfully

For over 40 years, the emotion researcher Paul Ekman has been investigating the question of whether feelings differ from culture to culture. His research shows that feelings are universal. Even their spontaneous facial expressions are the same all over the world. Can feelings be controlled? His answer: There is not a single study in the world that proves that emotional programs can be willfully suppressed. Every thought, action, and encounter is associated with feelings. The conflict is mostly about strong uncomfortable feelings. At the moment when our counterpart acts or speaks, uncontrollable feelings are briefly triggered in us. Scientists call this period the "refractory phase".

The length of time we spend under the influence of strong emotions can be influenced. It takes at least a fraction of a second. If the triggers are stimulated repeatedly, the phase may lengthen. The mediation team interrupts this vicious circle when it translates the trigger (mostly mutual accusations) into the underlying concerns. It is crucial for the quality of the translation process that not only needs, but also the associated feelings are identified. Strong feelings appear threatening as long as they are classified as a danger to the other party to the dispute. The fear generated prevents mutual understanding.

Strong emotions are "gold in dirty packaging"

When a party to the conflict hits the table in anger and "Shit! You left me hanging on this project «roars, it can trigger the other person to faint or to resist. At the same time, the hidden (indirectly expressed) emotional message is worth gold. If the mediation team succeeds in deciphering the I-message it contains, the entire group benefits from the gain in knowledge. If the party to the dispute is angry because they lack the support of their colleagues within a project, the mediation team can identify precisely this point and the associated internal state: "Are you angry because you want support?"

Statements are only drastically modified until you get the real mood: »Are you pissed off? Are you completely beside yourself because you feel alone while working on a project? Do you wish that this would really be seen today? "

The brain researcher Joachim Bauer describes what happens in such moments in the different brain regions. All those involved, both the parties to the dispute and the mediation team, are able to internally simulate the speaker's distress via mirror neurons. The prerequisite is that they have not switched off this ability to simulate due to fear. By repeatedly interrupting mutual accusations and translating them into the underlying I-messages, the mediation team creates the prerequisites for inner simulation and the associated intuitive understanding for the parties to the dispute. This is exactly what it is about: Intuitive understanding is the universal currency with which every change process, all growth and every mutual rapprochement is powered

Entanglement processes through pseudo-feelings

Pseudo-feelings are emotional words that confirm a perpetrator-victim scenario and drive the parties to the dispute further and further apart. At least 80 percent of all sentences that begin with the phrase "I feel ..." end with a blame: "I feel ripped off." "I have the feeling that nobody here takes me seriously." When the mediation team Quoting such idioms, it hits the accused's wound: "Ms. Meier, you feel cornered and want Mr. Mueller to stop cutting them?" With such statements, the mediation team with the accusing party gets verbally entangled right-wrong thinking and a victim myth. The accused unconsciously extends his resistance and internal aggression to the mediation team.

How we recognize real feelings

Real feelings can be recognized by the following characteristics:

> Everyone - even a baby can experience all kinds of feelings. If you are unsure, simply do the "baby test": If a baby cannot feel it, it is more likely a thought than a feeling.

> Feelings can be felt physically. Discouragement paralyzes the organism, nervousness is expressed by tingling. If you don't feel it physically, there is a high probability that you are in your thoughts, not your emotions.

> Real feelings do not express a perpetrator-victim relationship ("I am injured - you are to blame!"), But rather a pure I message ("I feel tense").

What is the difference between primary feelings, secondary feelings and pseudo-feelings?

Primary feelings are real feelings that can be expressed physically and expressed in an I-message. They can be felt (and neuronally mirrored) by everyone - including babies.

Secondary feelings are feelings that are evoked by a certain way of thinking. Anger, anger, hatred, shame, guilt, depression, and related terms include the thought that someone else is not okay or that I am not okay myself. Nevertheless, you can clearly feel these feelings in your own body. Secondary feelings are therefore a two-component glue «made up of primary feelings and thoughts.

Pseudo-feelings only express what I think about the behavior of others or how I evaluate their behavior. Secondary feelings are often hidden behind pseudo-feelings.

In mediation we work with primary and secondary feelings. Sometimes it is not immediately recognizable which primary feelings are hidden behind secondary feelings. Shame can be associated with strong taboo subjects. It is by no means helpful if the mediation team exerts pressure on themselves or the parties to the dispute in order to shed light on all primary feelings. In mediation, it is also possible to work productively with secondary feelings.

However, if the parties to the dispute spontaneously express what they experience behind their anger or guilt in terms of original feelings through increasing trust and growing self-awareness, the mediation team can register this opening and this gain in knowledge as an essential success for those involved. Now there are opportunities of particularly high quality for understanding needs and for sustainable solutions.

My suggestion for a vocabulary of real feelings

One can argue endlessly about the delimitation of real feelings, and a list will only reproduce a selection of words. I created these emotional words in comparison with specialist publications, my own experiences and in a discourse with female colleagues. She does not differentiate between positive and negative, but between pleasant and unpleasant feelings. Many people associate the word "negative" with a rating. In conflicts, however, expressions of feeling are generally helpful and welcome, even if they are perceived as unpleasant.

Pleasant feelings

excited, excited, excited, balanced, liberated, enthusiastic, comfortable, animated, intoxicated, calmed down, touched, lively, moved, grateful, eager, ecstatic, energized, committed, enthusiastic, relieved, determined, relaxed, delighted, delighted, refreshed, fulfilled, seized, relieved, astonished, expectant, fascinated, free, peaceful, happy, happy, banned, secure, tied up, serene, touched, collected, tense, healthy, happy, in a good mood, cheerful, wide awake, hopeful, inspired, clear, powerful, lively, light, easy, funny, motivated, lively, courageous, curious, optimistic, calm, gentle, full, peppy, self-assured, blessed, sure, carefree, quiet, proud, overjoyed, surprised, overwhelmed, carefree, happy, in love, trusting, awake, wide, inquisitive, affectionate, satisfied, affectionate, confident

Uncomfortable feelings

In my training, I initially only work with a few emotional terms in order to achieve a quick training effect. This vocabulary can be expanded step by step.

alarmed, tense, anxious, apathetic, angry, excited, exhausted, depressed, worried, dismayed, affected, sad, worried, bitter, blocked, depressed, confused, jealous, lonely, miserable, outraged, disappointed, disillusioned, slain, exhausted, Frightened, shaken, frozen, frustrated, fearful, inhibited, loaded, paralyzed, bored, annoyed, tough, hateful, helpless, in panic, irritated, cold, powerless, empty, lethargic, weary, miserable, tired, discouraged, nervous, dejected , passed out, panicked, perplexed, perplexed, resigned, restless, angry, shy, limp, shy, heavy, moody, worried, indifferent, dead, sluggish, sad, overwhelmed, uncomfortable, impatient, unhappy, restless, insecure, under pressure, uncomfortable, dissatisfied, bitter, tense, confused, desperate, reluctant, angry, fidgety, angry

Pseudo feelings

So-called "pseudo-feelings" are in reality no feelings, but thoughts, assignments of blame, accusations, reproaches and interpretations packaged in emotional formulations. Pseudo feelings are sometimes also referred to as interpretive feelings, non-feelings, wolf feelings or perpetrator feelings.

The following expressions are often mentioned as pseudo-feelings. Please note that some terms depend on context and emphasis.


(c) Al Weckert 2011