3 Loops of Expressing Feelings

By request, a published resource elaborating slightly on my response to a question a friend asked in a groupchat:

A lot of advice is some variation on “express your feelings to not be haunted by them forever,” but what do people mean by ‘express’ here? On one end there is being alone in a room and naming the feeling silently in your head, on the other end is telling your married boss you’re crushing on them, in between is stuff like journaling or going into the woods to scream and writhe or talking it out with a friend.

One model is that the key is to “let yourself fully feel the feeling” and the relevant sense of expression is whatever moves you towards that. Another is that feelings are for taking action in the world so apply appropriate thoughtfulness and discernment to avoid being rash and stupid but ultimately figure out what this trying to make you do and do it, and that will be the relevant expression. Does anybody find this advice helpful and wanna try to convey what it actually means for me?

From my perspective, there’s:

  • a loop that just involves yourself
  • a loop that involves a third party
  • and a loop that involves the person who the thing is about (eg the boss you have a crush on)

I’m calling these loops because they all have a kind of feedback loop quality to them, even though the feedback is quite subtle. There’s a sense of something landing.

AI art by me, generated as 3 separate images that I then composed

I mean what I mean

The first loop is about cultivating the sense of “I mean what mean“. Articulating something. Modifying it if it isn’t quite right. Trying again. Saying it out loud and feeling if it resonates. Getting to the point where you’re like “Yeah! THAT!”

Think of a time when you try to explain something to somebody, and they didn’t get it. Whether that was a model or a framework, or some emotional or relational thing or whatever.

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I'm Malcolm Ocean.

I'm developing scalable solutions to fractal coordination challenges (between parts of people as well as between people) based on non-naive trust and intentionality. More about me.

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