Journal Exercises - Describing FeelingsDescribing Feelings

A feeling is a spontaneous inner reaction to a person, place or situation. It can be a present situation or a situation which I am thinking about or picturing in my mind. Feelings are neither right or wrong, good or bad. They can be pleasant or unpleasant (or difficult).
Feelings don’t mean anything. A feeling is what it is. A feeling is a feeling is a feeling.

We can describe feelings using P.I.I.B.M. (Physical sensation, Image, Inner conversation, Behavior, Memory).


Example: “I feel nervous ”

Physical Sensation Heart pounding, sweaty palms, upset stomach, dry mouth, chilled, hot, giggling, etc “I feel nervous. My heart is pounding, my palms are sweating and my stomach is upset.”

◆ Painting a picture

An image of a scene or a situation “I feel nervous like how a person might feel walking down a dark alley” or “I feel nervous like a child giving an oral report in front of the class”
◆ Intensity Rate the feeling on a scale from 1 to 10 “I feel nervous. It’s about a 9”
◆ Nature A beautiful sunset, crashing waves, dark forest, ominous clouds, a sunny day, a raging storm, etc “I feel nervous like when I see ominous clouds rolling in” or “I feel nervous like a deer might feel smelling a scent of danger.”
◆ Color Red, blue, black, white, etc “I feel nervous. If it had a color it would be orange like a warning sign that is flashing danger.”
◆ Taste Sour, bitter, sweet, etc “I feel nervous. If it had a color it would be orange like a warning sign that is flashing danger.”
◆ Touch Scratchy, soft, prickly, sharp, etc “I feel nervous like touching a prickly porcupine”
◆ Sound Screech, crack of thunder, birds twittering and chirping, high pitched “I feel nervous like when I hear the sound of thunder”
Inner Conversation What am I telling myself, what am I thinking, what am I “believing” “I feel nervous. I’m telling myself ‘I’m trapped. There is no way out.”

◆ Actions

What do I tend to act out? What do I tend to do? Where do I tend to go? “I feel nervous. I tend to want to go eat something to soothe me”
◆ Words What words tend to come out of my mouth? What do I tend to say? “I feel nervous. I tend to say ‘don’t bother me. Stay away from me’”

◆ Past experience

Something you have experienced in the past like childbirth, riding a bike for the first time, walking on the beach, watching a movie, death of a loved one, etc “I feel nervous like the time when I had to perform in front of an audience for the first time”
◆ Shared memory Something you have experience together, like your wedding day, buying a house, vacationing together, meeting each other for the first time, etc “I feel nervous like how we felt waiting to hear if we got our mortgage approved” or “I felt nervous like how we felt when we got lost on our vacation”


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*Journaling exercises written by Cort Curtis, Ph.D, used with permission.