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The Art and Science of Effectively Managing Emotions.

Feelings and Emotions

Feelings and emotions are central aspects of our humanity; from sensory pleasure and pain to anger, fear, love, joy and happiness. They are crucial to all our experience, they are central in all our interactions with ourselves, our loved ones and the world beyond.

Increasing our sensory and emotional sensitivity means that there is more of the world available to us; increasing the range and depth of feeling and emotional experience increases our potential quality of life.

Sensory feelings and emotions are intimately related. We often seek the enjoyable feeling and emotion feelings and try to avoid or get rid of the uncomfortable or painful ones. While this is often useful , by not understanding that uncomfortable or painful feeling and emotions play a crucial role in usefully identifying damage (pain), real and potential threats (fear and anxiety) we may be mismanaging our emotions by stopping the pain, fear and anxiety rather than using it.   Of course if they are inaccurate or mistaken or stuck feeling and emotional responses then it would be useful to “get rid of them”; but only after finding out how this is happening and improving the effectiveness of how we are producing emotions.

The same is true for enjoyable feeling and emotions, we may mismanage them by seeking them even though they may not be relevant or useful; From the pleasure a bully gets in inflicting pain, the emotional high in drug use and crime, through to missing out on the development of higher emotions and meaning in life through an addiction to watching soap operas.


To get the most from our positive emotions and to use our negative emotions relevantly we need to manage them effectively. To manage our life we need to manage our experiences of pleasure and pain effectively.

The effective managing of feelings and emotions starts with a high level of sensitivity to both and how they relate and continues with an understanding of how they work and the skill to manage them. Effective managing includes using feeling and emotions as relevant responses to life experience and for planning for the future, developing effective unconscious feelings and emotions and creating “higher” and “deeper” emotions.


Our sensory feeling and emotions have been a source of fascination since the earliest times. There have been many different theories about emotions from Psychologists like William James and Freud and from Philosophers, from Lange to Sartre with little practical application for managing our emotions more effectively.

Developmental Behavioural Modelling( DBM®) offers a practical and verifiable set of distinctions, models and processes for identifying HOW we experience feelings and emotions, HOW they develop and change, and HOW we manage them.

DBM® allows us to make a practical investigation of feelings and emotions with the aim of improving our understanding appreciation and control of our feelings and emotions.

Developmental Behavioural Modelling DBM®

All of us build our understanding of the world around us based on our experience. We continue to create and change this understanding throughout our lives. We call this understanding that each of us creates our ‘model’ of the world. By a model we mean “an organised dynamic representation of our world”. We do not respond to the world as it is. We respond to how we have made sense of it, how it is “meaningful” to us. We then respond to new things based on what we already “know”. Instincts build in responses for animals but human beings need to learn how to respond in our cultures, organisations, countries and families. This learning, the building of a model, is a process of Modelling. All our cognition and all our emotions are based on our understanding of reality, on our models of the world.

We build and use models; our clients build and use models. As professional we are more likely to build formal models (including theories) to extend our informal or “naturalistic” modelling.

Both informal understanding and the formal understanding of science are models (and theories) built through the process of modelling. No matter what the epistemology underlying a theory both the epistemology and the theory require to be created in the first place.

Developmental Behavioural Modelling DBM® is the formal studying of the complete range of modelling. This includes the structure and function of models, how models are formally and informally constructed and applied.

John McWhirter