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Heart and Soul: The Crucial Role of Feelings in Meaning

Updated: Feb 6

Labeling of a sensation is one way to define “meaning.”
~ Sonia March Nevis ~

Context

This article is the fifth in a series on the elements or construct of meaning. The series answers the question, “What are meanings made of, and what role do they play in behavior?” Understanding these components and how they operate in human conduct can provide insight into our behavior and the quality of our lives.


The subsequent articles in the series explained attributions, beliefs, and values. If you have not read the previous articles, I encourage you to benefit from their content so that you can understand the context in the series, yourself, others, and situations better. Understanding yourself through this lens will facilitate personal development. So, please join me in delving into the sensory, affective, and intuitive dimensions of feelings and their role in raising awareness, capturing attention, and signaling significance.

Feelings mean something.


Introduction

In meaningful purpose psychology’s concept of meaning, feelings can be reliable guides. Feelings mean something. There is a “why” behind all feelings. The feeling element in meaning is a sensory, affective, and intuitive experience. They help us answer the question, “What is behind this sensation?" We use our senses of smell, touch, taste, hearing, and sight to interpret and describe people, things, and situations. Feelings help us explain an event’s affective experience, for instance, love, peace, serenity, fear, anger, pain, joy, inspiration, exhilaration, cold, heat, thirst, and hunger. When we crave, yearn, relish, and desire, we are feeling. Feelings play a pivotal role in affection, inspiration, curiosity, and creativity.  Yet, feelings also have a dark side, including examples such as lust, envy, depression, despair, and hate.


Awareness and Significance of Feelings

Logoteleology advocates that feelings are not mere transient reactions but rather sensory and intuitive experiences that contribute to the construction of meaning. They act as conduits of awareness, lifting our consciousness to the significance of our experiences. A moment tinged with joy, for instance, isn't just a fleeting sensory experience; it's a beacon, signaling the importance of the present and urging us to pay attention to what is happening in our surroundings. In this way, feelings can play the role of an alarm system to signal what is important and relevant. For instance, indicating where there is danger or opportunity.


Feelings are the heart and soul of our life’s journey and can guide us towards alignment with our authentic selves and the pursuit of the meaningful.



Figure 1 Logoteleology's Meaning Construct


As you can see, on the Logoteleology’s Meaning Construct model, feeling is one of two sensory components of meaning. The second is attitude, which I will cover in an upcoming article. Also, in a future article, I will explain the three classifications of the meaning factors, or as we label them, “meaning types,” and how these factors or types interact.


Feelings are Not Emotions

In meaningful purpose psychology, feelings are not the same as emotions. As stated, feeling is a sensory, affective, and intuitive experience. On the other hand, emotion we define as energy in motion. Their role is to propel us into action, as determined by the meaning. Again, I will discuss this subject at a deeper level in a future article. For now, in meaningful purpose psychology science, emotions are part of our motivation construct.

… feeling is a sensory, affective, and intuitive experience. On the other hand, emotion we define as energy in motion.


The Bright Side of Feelings

Logoteleology asserts that feelings, sensed through our five senses, are cognitive or mental experiences that play a pivotal role in constructing meaning. Let’s highlight some of the positive benefits of feelings:


1. They act as alert signals, drawing our attention to the significance of moments in our lives. For instance, the joy we feel in a specific situation -- a cognitive recognition of the importance of that moment in our existence.

2. Also, they tell us when something is wrong and lead us to take preventive and remedial actions. They remind us of what to avoid!

3. Feelings remind us of who and what is valuable or important in life. It helps us appreciate and value what matters in life. Special events such as holidays and festivals provide context to feel good.

4. They play a role in creativity and inspiration. Feelings find expression in arts, such as poetry, music, visual arts, architecture, pyrotechnics, and the dramatic arts. The role of curiosity and inquisitiveness has played a significant role in the creation of new technologies and the advancement of human achievement.

5. Feelings shared with genuine intent edify, build up, and love others. They strengthen relationships through deeper connections, empathy, and understanding.

6. Feelings can play an important role in the promotion of peace and harmony among people.

7.  Among others, upbeat feelings are also associated with productivity, well-being, civic service, and resilience.

8. Positive feelings often indicate alignment with our meaningful purpose. Recognizing and embracing these feelings can guide us toward activities and decisions that resonate with our core values and goals.



Hence, there are many benefits to promoting and experiencing what brings out the best of us through positive feelings. Positive feelings play an intimate role in what makes life meaningful; they keep us on the meaningful path.


The Dark Side of Feelings

Yet, logoteleology acknowledges the dark side. In our science, negative feelings, such as fear, sadness, or anger, are not shunned but recognized as crucial elements in the human experience. They, too, bear messages, often signaling misalignment with our meaningful purpose. Why would a meaningful purpose psychology practitioner care about the dark side of feelings? Because the role of the logoteleology practitioner is to help others increase meaning accuracy and reduce meaning inaccuracy or misalignment.

… the role of the logoteleology practitioner is to help others increase meaning accuracy and reduce meaning inaccuracy or misalignment.

By this, I mean meaningful or uplifting, meaning accuracy.


The dark side of feelings can manifest in various psychological challenges. Unacknowledged moods may fester, leading to internal conflicts and a sense of disconnection from one's meaning and purpose. For instance, persistent feelings of inadequacy may hinder the pursuit of meaningful goals, overshadowing the path with self-doubt.


Moreover, temperaments can become distorted, leading to maladaptive behaviors. For instance, excessive fear might paralyze action, preventing individuals from embracing opportunities that align with their meaningful purpose. Understanding and addressing these shadows is an integral part of the logoteleological journey.



Let’s highlight some of the negative consequences of feelings:


1. Unhealthy feelings, such as discomfort or unease, may signify cognitive dissonance – a misalignment between our actions and meaningful purpose. Ignoring or suppressing these feelings can lead to inner conflicts.

2. Negative feelings may indicate a deviation from our logoteleological purpose. Ignoring these signals can result in a sense of meaninglessness (what Victor Frankl defined as the existential vacuum), dissatisfaction, despair, and a lack of fulfillment in various aspects of life.

3. Unhealthy feelings, if not addressed, can lead to a state of emotional stagnation, hindering purposeful action. This stagnation may manifest as a lack of motivation, procrastination, or avoidance of activities aligned with our meaningful purpose.

4. Prolonged unhealthy feelings can contribute to mental health challenges, including anxiety, depression, and stress. The cognitive and sensory aspects of logoteleology underscore the importance of addressing and transforming these feelings for overall well-being.

5. Toxic feelings, if unaddressed, can negatively impact relationships. This may manifest as communication breakdowns, misunderstandings, or a lack of emotional connection with others.

 

If we remember that one of the roles of feelings is to alert us, we can leverage these symptoms into opportunities for growth and development. They tell us what to avoid and why and point to doing those things that will improve our sensory experiences and quality of life.



Integration: Embracing the Whole Sensory Spectrum

Logoteleology invites us to embrace the entirety of the sensory spectrum. The key lies in conscious awareness and interpretation. By acknowledging and understanding our feelings, both positive and negative, we can harness their transformative power.


Logoteleology encourages us to do those things that will bring out the best in us, including feelings that make us all better. It also encourages us to pay attention to and avoid doing things that hurt us and others in some way. Yet, we must acknowledge that suffering is part of the human condition and that we must find a meaningful meaning to endure it with courage and compassionate acceptance.


To navigate the dark side, logoteleology encourages the guidance of a licensed psychologist or certified meaningful purpose practitioner. Practices such as logoteleological meaning analysis, mindfulness, self-reflection, and emotional intelligence can empower individuals to decode the messages within their feelings and emotions, transforming challenges into opportunities for growth and alignment with meaningful purpose.


Conclusion

"Heart and Soul: The Crucial Role of Feelings in Meaning" describes the intricate dance of feelings within the context of meaningful purpose psychology. By recognizing the sensory, affective, and intuitive richness of feelings and acknowledging their shadows, we embark on a journey toward a more profound understanding of ourselves and our meaningful purpose. In embracing the whole emotional spectrum, we explain the true essence of logoteleological meaning, finding meaningful purpose even in the darkest corners of our sensory brain.


Yet, we promote what feels good by doing good or following the meaningful path!


Boston Institute for Meaningful Purpose: Discovering Life's Answers. ™


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Jan 09
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Highly informative and thought-provoking read about how vital it is to understand the role of both positive and negative feelings within creating your meaningful purpose in life and how feelings are an awareness guide that should be used mulled over when making future decisions and goals. -Sarah - ICF ACC Credential & Certificate in Applied Positive Psychology Coaching

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