Your brain thinks in images, first
Why expressing yourself visually is a powerful way to release emotions
DD HQ here. Have you ever had a feeling that you just didn’t know how to put it into words?
Maybe it was when you finally returned to in-person concerts and felt the connection between strangers again. Or maybe it was that unexpected feeling of peace while doing something mundane, like washing the dishes.
Whatever the case, you’re not alone. Experiencing feelings-without-words is such a common experience, there’s an entire dictionary dedicated to ‘feelings we can’t describe.’
Even more, in the field of cognitive science, some researchers hesitate to put any feeling into words since it’s such a subjective topic. In a recent piece in the New Yorker, some scientists have even gone as far to say that emotions aren’t biologically wired, but culturally created:
“Instead of seeing emotions as bequeathed by biology, we might see them as learned - ‘instilled in us by our parents and other cultural agents,’ or ‘conditioned by recurrent experiences within our cultures.’”
When you think about it logically - if we can feel something without having the words to describe it - then words must be secondary to our ability to process…right?
We get it: It’s uncomfortable to think that words may not be able to describe our full extent of emotions. Most of the ways we process our feelings happens through words. We’re either talking to a therapist or a coach. We’re writing and reflecting in a journal. Or we’re listening to spoken word help us remove the words from our mind.
…but, what if there could be another way?
You may be surprised to learn that our brain actually thinks in images, first. No matter if use of words seems like it comes naturally to you or not, our brain develops a thought in visual form before translating it into words.
Harvard Medical School researcher, Dr. Amit, found in a recent study that even when people actively try to think verbally, visual thinking always intrudes: “This is the way our brains are wired, and there may be an evolutionary reason for this [because] we haven’t always been verbalizers. For a long time, we understood our world visually, so maybe language is an add-on.”
At Daydreamers, we’re here to help us all get back to our roots + use our natural, human superpower - creative expression - to parse out how we feel. We know that creative expression has a powerful impact on our emotions and ability to process them. Even more than processing, it can help our brain release neurotransmitters that relax our nervous system and reduce feelings of stress.
The part that holds us up from using our natural visual superpower to process the world around us, especially as adults, is that we think it has to look a certain way. That our creations have to be beautiful in order for them to be meaningful.
But, even practices like cognitive offloading (one of our favorites at DD HQ), which is simply just getting visuals into the physical realm, can help us feel better. No gold stars necessary 🤓
So this week, try experimenting with the idea of processing emotions in your natural, visual state. What’s surprising? Report back + tell us in the comments! 👀
Katina + Dupi
and the entire team @ DD HQ
An idea to noodle on 💭
Creative expression helps us process the world
THINK ON THIS: Images supercede words in our brain. Researchers have found that even when we are trying to think verbally, the visual part of our brain lights up. Think about it - since ancient times, our species has communicated via images (cave paintings, anyone?). Instead of fighting against it, let’s use our natural wiring to process + heal.
…MAYBE NOT THAT: Not all emotions are described equally. For example, in Luganda, Africa, the word “kusunguwala” translates to mean both sadness and anger in English. On the other hand, “amae” means “a complete dependence on the nurturant indulgence of their caregiver” in Japanese, but it’s a feeling for which we can’t describe fully in the English language. Does the idea that emotions are culturally-driven feel liberating or overwhelming?
Inside our brains at DD HQ 🧠
Doing nothing has been a dream since Aristotle called it divine. The power of Daydreaming isn’t just something that lives in our brains at DD. Our team loves going on brainstorm walks - here’s why they’re powerful from a neuroscience POV. Rap on Soundcloud isn’t gone - it’s reinventing itself.
Ideas from the DD Crew 🛸
crew! as the DD community is growing well into the tens of thousands - we’re here to stay true to our roots: collective creation to change the world.
share what you’ve been creating [in any form; the less complete/perfect the better!] + we’ll share it with our entire community in this newsletter + on social. plus, you might get a special invite to our private Discord channel for DD Early Access members 🤓