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“Where do you feel happiness? Does it have a color?”

By on September 18, 2014

“Where do you feel that emotion? Does it have a cold?” These are questions many hypnotists will use to turn an emotion represented by a word, such as anger, fear, confidence, love, into a bodily sensation.

Emotions are created when our unconscious mind decides that our body needs to be ‘reset’ to deal with a new external context, perhaps a threat (fight or flight – anger or fear). The brain then releases a chemical wash into the body (for example adrenaline in the fight or flight response). This chemical wash changes the state of internal organs (the heart beats faster, blood is diverted from digestion to the major muscles). The internal organs send signals to the brain that they are ready for action (butterflies in the stomach, a racing heart). Finally these signals are turned into a word by the conscious mind, such as fear or anger.

So the words we use to label our emotions are the final link in a long chain that begins with the unconscious mind, passes through the thalamus and other parts of the brain, into the body, back to brain and finally to the conscious mind. By turning these emotions back into bodily sensations we back the train up and get closer to resolution.

Researchers in Finland have created cross cultural maps of bodily sensations (where, intensity), and translated them into colormaps of the body. Note that these are ‘translations’ of people’s reported sensations, not kirlian photographs!).

And the take away from all this? Paying attention to how you (or your clients) know they are feeling a certain emotion, i.e. how it feels int heir body, begins to build up a better communication between conscious and unconscious minds.

And by beginning to ‘manipulate’ the sub modalities these sensations consciously (changing the color, reversing the spin etc.) we can begin to better control our emotional responses.


We all know colloquial sayings that link body areas and physical sensations to specific emotions. Sayings like, “cold feet, sweaty palms, goose bumps, shivers down my spine, butterflies in my stomach, weak in the knees, hot headed, cold hearted…” are commonly used to sum up emotional states. Recently, researchers from Finland created colorful images that map how the engagement of specific body areas corresponds to 14 different emotions. Researchers Map Body Areas Linked to Specific Emotions

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