The Difference Between Feelings and Emotions

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I wonder what’s the emotional experience you have from looking at this picture?

I wonder what feeling this picture triggers in your body?

I have met many people who are unaware that feelings and emotions are not the same thing. It is my belief that this is important knowledge that we should all have. We need to understand these subtle differences to help us learn to regulate our emotions so that we are not consumed by them which allows us to lead healthier lives and experience deeper relationships with our loved ones. In daily life, we often use the words feelings and emotions interchangeably but there are differences in the words that should be noted.

Emotions and Feelings

It may be easier to start with emotions. Emotions are our unconscious reactions that our bodies have to stimuli. Dr. Antonio R. Damasio – neurologist and chair of University of Iowa’s neurology department – noted that the feelings we experience in our bodies are formed after we have already had an emotional response to particular stimuli. He gives the basic example of being afraid, we all know the usual physical responses that our bodies experience, heart racing, sweating, and dry mouths among other things, our bodies automatically create these responses with no help from us. We only become aware that we are feeling fearful after our brain has registered these physical changes. It is also important to note that not all stimuli are external as noted by Dr. Damasio.

Emotions are our unconscious reactions that our bodies have to stimuli Click To Tweet

So, our brain processes these physical changes as it scans the body and we recognize the physical feelings we are experiencing, but the emotional experience we have from past experiences is what we use to label these feelings. ...

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5 Reasons Why You Need A Mental Health Checklist

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I created a Mental Health Checklist for the Gray Matthews Project that can aid in our overall journey to become our best selves. Before I get to why you need this checklist, let me clarify what a checklist is and what a mental health checklist is.

Checklist: A checklist is simply a list of tasks or in this case, responsibilities to be checked off or monitored.

Mental Health Checklist: A mental health checklist is a list of items that can be monitored or referred to, to ensure that we are utilizing healthy practices to holistically care for ourselves.

These are five great reasons why we can all benefit from the use of a mental health checklist. Click To Tweet

Okay, now that we’ve gotten the basics out of the way, here are 5 reasons why you need a Mental Health Checklist.

  1. Having a checklist clearly identifies the tasks or responsibilities that need to be done. This creates an easy and simple system of staying on top of our tasks.
  2. A mental health checklist should encompass all areas of our lives, that means, emotional health, behavioral health, spiritual health, physical health, and relational health because mental health affects our whole lives.
  3. A mental health checklist can help us organize our lives. If the checklist is as holistic as it should be, it will include all areas of our lives. As we do the necessary work of going through the checklist and making changes accordingly, to bring ourselves closer to our best selves, we will find that our lives will shed a lot of unnecessary things, such as relationships, habits, emotions, and behaviors.
  4. A mental health checklist can assist us with getting to know ourselves. We may not realize it, but many people walking around have no idea who they are. Many of us are so uncomfortable in our skins, we do not want to take the time to get to know ourselves because we may not like what we see. A checklist can be utilized subjectively, so the reader can go through the checklist at the reader’s pace. But the reader has to commit to completing the checklist for it to beneficial.
  5. This brings me to my last point of healing. As we work through the checklist and make the changes, we begin to get to know ourselves better. We begin to identify areas of past hurts and vulnerabilities, we begin to find areas for improvement. As we learn about these areas, we can begin the necessary work of healing ourselves and our wounds so that we can become the whole persons that we were meant to be. Being healthier individuals allow us to feel more confident in ourselves and our environments, we begin to feel comfortable in our skins, and we can begin to develop healthier relationships that will us maintain the positivity that we have learnt.

These are five great reasons why we can all benefit from the use of a mental health checklist. Of course, there are more reasons and benefits that manifest themselves as we do the work on ourselves. We must be willing to do the work and we must be willing to be honest with ourselves about what we learn to really benefit from this tool.

The Mental Health Checklist by the Gray Matthews Project is simple yet comprehensive and user-friendly. It is not a test nor a tool for diagnosis. It is a tool to help us learn about ourselves and our decisions; it helps us learn how we can stop making unconscious choices and develop awareness to help us make better choices for ourselves and our lives. Subscribe now and get the Gray Matthews Project’s Mental Health Checklist and begin your journey of self-discovery. ...

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7 Reasons Why It’s Time to See A Therapist

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Since this is a mental health blog, it is essential to address the reasons why we should see a therapist. We know that life is filled with everyday stressors which affects us all. We are all equipped with coping mechanisms to help deal with these stressors. Most of us have built relationships, social skills, emotional coping mechanisms, and various defenses to deal with these stressors. But sometimes, these systems that are in place can become overwhelmed, sometimes these systems suffer from lack of care and attention, sometimes a trauma occurs and there are no systems in place to deal with this new development, and sometimes you may just feel isolated and alone.

Statistics from National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reported that approximately 1 in 6 adults in the US experiences mental illness in a year. If you reflect on this statistic, it means that you know at least 1 – 3 individuals – if this doesn’t also include you – that is dealing with some form of mental illness. Most people will not seek any form of mental health care and will convince themselves that what they are going through is normal and that no assistance is needed. There are more than enough stigmas floating around in our society, especially within marginalized groups, such as people of color, women, and LGBTTQQIAAP communities that prohibit us from seeking assistance.

There is an abundance of reasons why therapy is beneficial. The main reason that therapy is beneficial is that it provides a safe, non-judgmental space to work through all of life’s issues. This statement may sound clichéd or over-used, but it is the simplest and truest way to describe therapy. When you meet a therapist that you connect with, the experience is deepened in an indescribable way. For the black community, it is like finding the perfect barber or hairdresser that you just click with. ...

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Our Gifts from God

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“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.”

I Corinthians 12:7 KJV

As I have been fasting, God has been focusing me on learning about the gifts that He has given to me. He has tasked me with being accountable to Him about how I steward my gifts. Honestly, prior to starting my spiritual journey, I had never thought of what God wanted me to do. I developed a love of therapy at a young age and decided that I would become a therapist. Throughout the last few weeks, I have been praying about goals that I have set for myself and focusing on the steps to achieve the goals.

But I have found that I keep coming back to stewarding spiritual gifts. If we desire to be aligned with God and His purposes for us, we must first determine what He wants. To do this, we must spend time talking to Him and listening for His responses. His responses may not always be immediate, nor may they come as a direct answer; sometimes, they the responses can be from a friend, and when this happens to me, I find that confirmations of the responses are not far behind.

If we desire to be aligned with God and His purposes for us, we must first determine what He wants. Click To Tweet

In getting to know God as you would any friend, you must take the time to understand how He will speak to you. For me, this has become one of the most awesome things about God. He demonstrates to us how much He knows us by communicating with us in the ways that we each need. I also believe that He does this often so that you begin to recognize His responses. ...

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What Is Black on Black Prejudice?

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What is black on black prejudice? In keeping with my belief about ‘Authenticity and bravery in sync,” it is impossible to not address an issue that I believe is pervasive in the black community. Prejudice towards other blacks is extremely pervasive in the black community but it is very rarely talked about. Even in working on this post, and researching recent articles, the results were very limited. Most people would not use the term ‘racism’ to address the prejudice that exists within the black community, because it’s not black and white or across racial groups.

What is black on black prejudice? Click To Tweet

Our race has, for centuries, been told that white is perfection and black was of no value. We tend to underestimate the lasting effects of slavery. Slavery had more deeply-rooted issues that we tend to understand or admit to. We know that the church was crucial to helping slaves maintain their identifies, cultural practices, and keeping hope alive for a better future. But on a relational level, we really do not know much about how they dealt with their pain. Hence, our race is filled with so much complex trauma. There are deeply rooted issues that are not talked about and are just left to fester below the surface. Some of these issues include loss of identities, loss, forgiveness, acculturation, depression, assimilation, shame, mortality, embarrassment, and ignorance. There is a wide gamut of feelings and thoughts that come with recognizing that you are black, you are a descendant of a slave, and you may not even know which slave. With the entrenched and conditioned beliefs that our race has been exposed to, it is no wonder that we have internalized a lot of those beliefs. ...

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Mental Health in the Caribbean: Changes in the Afro Caribbean

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The Caribbean is seen as this place of paradise for visitors to come and frolic for a period of time and then return to their lives. The truth is that many people that live on these islands have never experienced the tourist attractions for the islands they live on. Underneath all the sunny days and rolling seas lies everyday people with thriving cultures built on independence from colonialism. The underlying social impact is slowly rising to the surface with the rise of mental health problems in the Caribbean.

When I was growing up, mental health in Jamaica was a foreign term. Psychologists existed but it was not a very socially accepted field. When I shared with my family, my desire to become a therapist, most of my family members laughed and joked that I would “deal with the crazy people.” In Jamaica, the people that walked the street – oftentimes barely dressed and carrying a heavy scent – were called “mad woman” or “mad man.” I guess maybe these would be considered the extreme cases as they had not received the help they needed before and had basically become societal outcasts. You were either normal or like these people in society’s eyes. I was young and did not fully understand that these people probably had various mental illnesses that were left untreated since our island did not believe in the concept of mental health. Even now, if the term “mad woman or man” in Jamaica is typed into Google, there are YouTube videos showcasing these people’s lives for the world to see. In graduate school, I began to realize that many of these people probably had diagnosable mental illnesses such as major depressive disorder and schizophrenia. ...

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