Monthly Archives: July 2016

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Visualization to let you see what you feel

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In the world of emotions what you feel right now colors what you remember you felt before. And that’s ok — it is just how the human mind works. Usually this doesn’t cause too much difficulty, until you are trying to work through a complex emotional problem on your own or with a therapist, or if you are suffering from depression, anxiety or other mental illness. If you track your emotions on a regular basis, in the moment, you have a way to overcome that. A paper emotion journal is good for that, but you’ll have to go back through the entries, page by page and even then you’ll only have a feeling of what was going on. This is where WeFeel excels over a paper journal. All your emotion entries in the cloud means we can show them in a variety of ways. For you, that means you can SEE what you’ve been feeling, and so can anyone you share it with.

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The dashboad on a tablet

The dashboard starts off with a view of your outlook trend. By default the dashboard pulls in the last 10 entries, but you can use the filter button at the bottom to choose any number of entries up to 21 or 180* depending on the version you use. More than that, the Outlook trend gives you the ability to see how your outlook has changed over time. Using the other filters with outlook trend will let you see if a specific location or activity affects your outlook. For example, if you have a better outlook in one location than another, you might want to take some time to consider why  this might be and what you can do about it.

Core emotion trends chart

Core emotion trends chart

The core emotion quick summary shows you two things: the strongest amount you have felt each emotion and the average intensity that you feel each emotion. You can get a better view of your core emotions by going to the Core Emotion Trends chart. On a phone, just use the arrow to go to the next page, on a tablet click the straight face icon and you’ll see a chart of how you’ve been feeling. Any filters you’ve set carry through all your pages views. On the core emotion trends pages you can also isolate individual emotions by turning the other emotions off by tapping on them. If you want to get an idea of why you were feeling especially happy or angry, just tap on that bar to see the note you wrote when you added that entry. These controls work the same for the custom* emotions chart.

The word cloud in the Themes from my Entry Notes

The word cloud in the Themes from my Entry Notes

Clicking over to the notes or journals* brings up a word cloud of what you write about most often, either in the quick note on an emotion entry or in a journal entry. The larger the word is, the more often you added it to a note. This gives you a quick way to see the why behind what you are feeling. This provides an easy way to start a conversation about your emotions, especially with a therapist or loved one.

There is a lot more you can do with the dashboard and filters, so we invite you to play around with it. If you find a cool way to see something, please share it with us in the comments.

*These features are part of the paid subscription version.

 


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Security – Your information locked up tight

Emotion and journal entries can be very sensitive information. For the same reason we say “I’m fine” to most people, when we really are not, we don’t want notes, journal entries or emotion logs to fall into random hands. Security has been important to WeFeel from day one, and it exists on two sides: your phone and our cloud.

On your end, your entries are as secure as you want them to be. The first layer depends on what you use to make your phone or tablet secure. Does it take a fingerprint, pattern, or password to get into your phone? You have control of the security for your phone or tablet. You might want to consider updating the security of your phone if this is something that concerns you. One of the updates we are considering is adding an optional layer of security by letting you choose if a 4 digit pin is required to log and view entries. If that is something you want to see, let us know in the comments. You could push it up the priority list for development.

On our end of things there are multiple layers of security. The first one is that your information cannot be retrieved to a phone, tablet or computer without the same 3rd party authentication you originally set up. We support Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Microsoft authentication, and you choose which one you want to use. The next level is an optional pass phrase you can set up when you create your account that will double encrypt your files. That means that even if someone was able to guess who you authenticated with AND was able to get your username and password, they would still need to know your secret pass phrase to get your data. But it has to be something you won’t forget, because unlike your password to your email or other logins, we can’t retrieve it for you.

The last layer of security is our cloud. WeFeel uses the Microsoft cloud to store our data. Microsoft’s servers have a level of security and privacy that complies with storing other sensitive data, like medical records. Your data can only be accessed by you (and those you have shared with)* and it requires a long string of “dna” to find that data and send it back to you. We don’t use your email address or other identifiable information to mark your record in the cloud, which means even if someone was able to get past all the security we have in place and access the data they couldn’t identify you.

To find out even more about our security, check out our Tech and Security pages.


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Data in the cloud means it’s everywhere you are

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WeFeel works WITH you and your life. This isn’t an additional thing to buy and keep with you; WeFeel works on the smartphone, tablet, and (soon) desktop computer you already have. So you won’t need to worry about keeping track of or carrying one more thing, or upgrading another piece of technology (updates to WeFeel are included with your subscription). And, WeFeel works with the other “wearables” you own. We currently have support for the Microsoft band. Next up is support for FitBit, Apple Watch, and then other wearables so you’ll have heartrate and other “fitness” information to go along with your emotions.

We want WeFeel to be available to anyone who wants to use it. Currently you can get it on all 3 of the major platforms (Windows, Android, and iOS). And you don’t have to buy it for each one. Your subscription follows you. That’s the beauty of the cloud. Once you login to WeFeel you can access your information and track emotions on your ipod, your android tablet, your windows phone, and (soon) your windows 10 desktop. Or your android phone and ipad. Or… you get the picture.

When you enter information on one device it becomes available wherever you access it. You don’t have to worry about entering information on your phone but not being able to see it on your tablet because the information you enter is stored securely in the Microsoft Cloud and can only be viewed by authenticated access.


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Customize it to make it all yours

Nobody should have to fit into a preformed box. With WeFeel you can customize what you track and when you are reminded to track those things

Every day the number of apps available grows, and that includes the number of apps related to mental health. There is no regulation on mental health apps, but in April 2016 the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry published a commentary that gave some guidelines that care providers can use when evaluating apps for use in treatment. This framework is called ASPECTS, and the C stands for customization.

WeFeel is designed as a tool for use in a wide variety of mental wellness and care situations. Customizing what you can track is a key component to the flexibility that WeFeel offers. In addition to the six core emotions, individuals can add an additional 6 custom items to track. This provides flexibility to meet the needs of a wide variety of situations. For example,

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You can enter up to 6 custom items to track

  • in addiction recovery treatment individuals can track the intensity of their cravings.
  • in marriage counseling each partner can track how connected they feel to their spouse
  • for patients with bi-polar or manic/depressive disorder, they can track mania and depression independent of other emotion
  • new mothers with post-partum depression can track how postive they feel toward their baby or motherhood
  • those seeking treatment for generalized anxiety can track their anxiety separate from other fear emotions
  • individuals suffering from depression can track other symptoms like lack of energy or tiredness, insomnia, guilt, and persistent pain
  • and more…

The field is wide open to what can be tracked and each item that is tracked can also have its intensity tracked – just like the custom emotions. Once these custom items are tracked WeFeel has the power to show a correlation between a custom item and location, social situation, activity, or the core emotions captured.

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Setting custom and random reminders in App Settings

Not only can you customize what you track, you can customize when you are reminded to track it. That puts the power back into your hands to track emotions and custom items from regular interactions (like a specific class at school, a regular work meeting, the daily commute, or end of the day). You can set up to 3 custom reminders along what those reminders say. For example, at 10 am a reminder can pop up to ask “How was Mr. John Doe’s class?” You can also set the number of random “How do you feel?” reminders from zero up to 10 times per day.

Customization is a key component of WeFeel that makes it a useful tool for many different care situations. From parents and couples to professional counselors and paid care providers, WeFeel offers a new tool that will improve communication and understanding.


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Blurry Lines, Corporate Caste Systems, and the Emotionally Detached Leader

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I love lines, and boxes, and points of demarcation.  Everything in its file drawer in my head.  This is mine, that is yours. Useful person, Useless person. Godlike senior executive, plebian workers to be expended at will.

Oh wait. I think that last one may be wrong. Or maybe it’s not. No. It’s gotta be wrong doesn’t it?

What I mean to say is, traditional management teaches us to not get too close to those who work for us.  I know this ’cause I was learned it in the University.  I been gived readin’ books on “how to be a great boss” that done did said it.  Some’un wrotes it.  Must be gospel.

Just because an expert said something doesn’t make it the right thing for you

Here’s the problem with lines: Different people (often “experts” in their field) draw the lines in different places. This causes me all kinds of trouble. I go through phases of voraciously reading everything I can about a topic, and often end up with very conflicting points of view on the same subject bouncing around in my  head.  I have to actually think and come up with my own conclusions.

 

Many of the places I’ve worked keep some separation between management and not-management. Often, they go so far as to draw another line between executive leadership and management. This is great for the people that draw the employee charts. It leads to nice triangley shapes.  And since I’m an “executive” I get to be the pointy part at the top.  I like pointy, it’s better than pointless.

Speaking of points, here are some of the reasons I’ve been given to avoid fraternizing with the help.

Don’t develop close relationships with people who work for you because:

  • You’ll likely end up friends with some and not others, which could be seen as unfair.
  • They might not respect you, or take you seriously.
  • Friendships are based on equality, and bosses aren’t equal. They have to do performance reviews, set salaries, give promotions.
  • They might take advantage of your kindness.
  • You might have to fire them in the future, which will be difficult if they are your friend.

Here’s the thing. Or at least a thing.  Look at that list.  What’s the driving factor between each item.  I’ll give you a hint…they all take about future possibilities. Things that might happen.

When you don’t do something because it “might happen” you are acting out of fear.

Fear is a powerful motivator. It can be a great thing in certain situations. It keeps us safe from danger. But it also causes us to miss out on having a deeper, more meaningful existence. And more importantly, fear can cause us to draw unnecessary lines. Lines that keep people out of our lives. Lines that lead to thinking some are better than others.  Lines that effectively place a caste society right in your office.

Right now, where you work, do you really feel that your leaders sincerely care about your life?  Do you really care about people who work beneath you?  Have you ever thought about the fact that we use phrases like “Bob works under me” or “the people below me on the org chart”  are like saying we’re above them… better than, even?

And you thought we were progressing towards equality.

Here’s what I think:  I’ve chosen to treat people who report to me (directly or indirectly) as someone I care about. Yes, in the end I have to make the final decisions, and I get to bear the responsibility of failure or success, but having more on my shoulders shouldn’t have to mean I have to be some unreachable island. When I care about others I can best serve them as a leader, mentor, and even as a friend.

I get that it’s a bit ironic for me to say that, because by nature I’m about the most emotionally detached person you’ll find. Despite that I’ve found that when you see each person on your team as someone who is trying to do their best in life,  and someone who is worth getting to know, you’ll find coming to work is a much better experience. You will all be more productive and happier, which rubs off on customer interactions, which equates to more customer loyalty, which in the end means a more successful company.

So even though I’m simply not good at being a friend, and as a result I’ve failed my fair share of times, I still think my life has been better for trying to cross the line between boss and employee, and the teams I have been a part of  have been more successful for my efforts.

Have some taken advantage of me?

You betcha! But there have been many more times where someone would go the extra mile to get a job done because they knew that it mattered to me, and you do things for people you care about.

Have I held on to an employee longer than I should while trying to help them get their life together?

Check! While I’m a big believer in parting ways with an employee who can’t fit in for whatever reason as early as possible, I’m also a big believer in trying to bring out untapped potential. While I haven’t always succeeded in my efforts, I’ve had some people turn around to become top performers. I wonder what their lives would be like today had I just tossed them to the wind? Overall the benefit to myself and the companies I’ve worked for has been greater than the bit of wasted money on holding on to a few of the wrong people for too long.

Have I had to fire a friend?

I’ve had to lay off a whole team of people I cared about. It sucked. But years after we shut the division down the team arranged a get together dinner to reminisce on old times. I temporarily wrecked all their lives…and yet I was still invited. That meant a great deal to me.  I’m still proud to see all that they’ve accomplished since then.

If you are in a leadership position ask yourself:

“Do I keep an emotional distance between myself and those under my care because I am afraid of things that *might* be a problem later?”

If the answer is yes, maybe take some time to re-think what your team could be if they had a leader who they cared for as a friend. No one is saying you have to be BFFs, remember a friend is simply a “person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection.”  So the question is:
Would you have a more positive workplace if there were more bonds of mutual affection?

Yes! Though it will be hard on you.  You will have to have the willpower to not be biased, to not make poor decisions because you don’t want to mess up a friendship, and to treat everyone equally.  But you rose to a leadership position because of your abilities.  I’m sure you can handle it.

And if you work for an emotionally detached leader, it might be good to put yourself in their shoes. Maybe they aren’t very good at forming attachments to people, or perhaps they may have been taught their entire career that they can’t be close to anyone who works for them. Can you imagine what it would be like if you had to come to work each day knowing you weren’t supposed be friends with the people you interact with the most? It can be really hard, so why not do what you can to help them out?  Afterall, they are also just there trying to do the best they can.

A wise mentor once told me “no one comes to work hoping to fail.”  It’s much easier to see that when you care about each other’s success. The point of all this: Even in my black and white world, I can see that some lines aren’t so great.  Sometimes we should blurry them up a bit.

Don’t let fear prevent you from getting out your eraser.


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Mix and match emotions

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An emotion entry page with custom icons too.

A core principle of WeFeel is that emotions mix and combine, and aren’t polar opposites of each other.  You don’t have to be somewhere on a scale of sad to happy.  You can be both.

A key principle in our philosophy at WeFeel is that emotions are not considered opposites. One good example of this is melancholy – being both happy and sad at the same time. For example: losing a race to your best friend. You are happy for them and sad for you; at the same time.

WeFeel has 6 core emotions you can track: Anger, Joy, Disgust, Sorrow, Fear, and Love. Where did these core emotions come from? There a wide variety of emotion models and lists that have been proposed by psychologists and research scientists over the years. We took a look at many of them and compared them to see what they had in common and where they are different. And it came down to these 6 core emotions, plus surprise; which you can see is missing from the core emotion icons. We do want to track surprise, but since it is a fleeting emotion (and tracking shouldn’t take the place of or interfere with living your life), future releases of WeFeel will track incidences of surprise with biometrics like heart rate.

But human emotion and life experience is a messy and complicated thing. One way of thinking about emotion refuses to accept that emotion CAN be boiled down to just 6 core emotions. Recently, David DiSalvo wrote about this in Forbes “Let’s talk about your Litost, and Other Emotions We Feel But Can’t Quite Explain”. And this graphic that I came across over a year ago gives a good visual representation. UntranslatableEmotionsinLanguagesotherthanEnglishvsParrottsEmotionClassification_50ffbf93965deThere are so many words, in so many languages, to describe emotion, and each one is a valuable and different experience.

So how does one put the idea of tracking emotion in 6 categories together with the amazingly diverse things that can be felt? WeFeel tackles this in two ways. First, the 6 core emotions are not discreet. You can choose both sorrow and joy. (And if you really want to you can also add anger, fear, love, and disgust. There is not a limit on how many of the core emotions you can choose.) And you can choose a different intensity level for each emotion you select. Second, you can add a note to specify the exact word for what you are feeling. Or, if you don’t know a word for it, you can note the circumstances for what you are feeling.

WeFeel doesn’t limit your feelings. We understand that getting in touch with your feelings can be a complicated process – and we want to make it easier for you. Letting you record a combination of emotions with different intensities is just one way we help you improve your emotional awareness.


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What makes us different?

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There are thousands, if not tens of thousands, of apps out there that claim to make a difference in mental health. Many of them have a very different focus than WeFeel — they want to bring therapy and therapists closer to the people, or provide low-cost virtual therapy options. Some of them are trying to use various biometric data points like breathing, heart rate, and voice modulations to say how you feel. And a few of them let you track emotion in ways that might be similar to WeFeel.

So, what makes us different?

  • A core principle of WeFeel is that emotions mix and combine, and aren’t polar opposites of each other.  You don’t have to be somewhere on a scale of sad to happy.  You can be both.
  • We allow customization of what you track and when you are reminded to track those things.
  • We store data in the cloud so you can have it synced on ALL your devices.
  • WeFeel is as secure as you want to make it.
  • The dashboard provides visualization of your emotions through charts, graphs, word clouds, and more. This visualization can jumpstart therapy and make it more effective.
  • Users can opt-in to share their entries for research.

 

These differences are important to making WeFeel a solution that you can use to improve your life by increasing your emotional awareness. WeFeel isn’t a solution for all the mental health issues out there all on its own. It is a tool that you can use as an individual to better understand yourself. With better understanding you can improve your life and the lives around you. More importantly, WeFeel is a tool you can use with your therapist, whether you are in addiction recovery, individual therapy, marriage or family therapy, or in recovery from other mental health challenges. When you use WeFeel with your therapist you can make sessions more effective, and, we hope, reduce the  number of sessions needed to get to your desired outcome.

 


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All you need is love…

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Love is a very powerful force. It moves us to do things that we might not otherwise, for good or for bad. If you believe some philosophers it is what makes life worth living. It also gives hold for many of our emotions because it drives how we are connected to the world. Our fears, angers, joys, disgusts, and sorrows can be directly tied to the people and things we love most.

There are many kinds of love — from friendship to romance. It also is found in: affection, adoration, fondness, caring, tenderness, attraction, compassion, lust, desire, passion, and infatuation.

We love all our followers and would love it if you share our posts with your friends. Invite them to like our Facebook page WeFeelUs or follow us on Twitter @WeFeelUs to get more inspirational updates about our emotions and emotional awareness.


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