Emotions are your intuition showing you which way to go or how to deal with an issue or problem. Emotions are generally responses to your circumstances.
You get happy when you get a raise, excited about going on vacation, and sad when someone dies.
Once in a while emotions come up that don’t seem to have any particular reason attached to them and they can be confusing or uncomfortable.
When you experience emotion but don’t want it, what do you do with the feeling?
Often we stuff them down and they back up. Backed-up feelings can lead to stress (stress beliefs), anxiety, and other physical and emotional issues over time.
But rather than stuffing or running from these feelings, it is better to sit with them until you understand what they are telling you so that you can use this information as a guide for living your best life possible.
What is emotional awareness?
Emotional awareness is about understanding your feelings and how they are working for or against you.
If you are aware of what triggers your emotions, you get to make the choice on how to respond rather than letting your emotions drive you without knowing where you’re heading.
When our feelings aren’t acknowledged, understood and appreciated, we feel alone and isolated. This leads to feelings of powerlessness, which is the opposite state of what we want when we’re in conflict or experiencing pain.
How do you know when you are in a place that could benefit from emotional awareness?
Maybe you feel stuck and can’t see your way out of a situation, maybe life seems overwhelming, maybe it’s time for a change but you don’t know how or where to start, maybe there’s something in your life that you want to let go of but can’t seem to get it out of your system.
If you are feeling any one or all of these things, finding emotional awareness may be the key that helping you move forward with clarity and purpose.
How does emotional awareness work?
Emotional awareness is about exploring your feelings without judgment, but with compassion for yourself. This means acknowledging these emotions are valid and necessary.
You can’t go back to ignoring them or stuffing them down because it doesn’t work, the pain comes out somewhere else in your body, in your relationships, in your work in a way that is out of control and upsetting to you and others around you.
When you sit with your feelings in a mindful, conscious way without reacting or suppressing them, the negative emotions lose their power over you.
You will feel cared for and supported by yourself in this process so that when you get things wrong (and we all do) you won’t beat yourself up, you will be more compassionate and gentle with yourself.
Working with your feelings in this way can heal the pain of past regrets or trauma because you are making room for whatever comes up so that it does not fester underneath.
You get to know your emotions without judgment (I am feeling sad about my mother’s death, I am feeling anxiety about going on an airplane), and then you get to make choices that are best for you in the long run.
What picture does this create of your life?
Once you have a better understanding of what is really going on with your feelings and can communicate them to others without fear of being judged, you will see opportunities to make better choices.
You may feel more confident and less fearful about taking steps forward in your life because you will have a better understanding of how certain choices affect you.
Your emotional awareness gets to create the best possible version of yourself that can live a fulfilling life where you know what feelings are driving your decisions so that they are based on your truth rather than someone else’s.
Once you are aware of what is driving your choices, you can make the most authentic decisions for yourself and be true to who you really are vs. following someone else’s path or trying to fulfill everyone else’s expectations.
Having emotional awareness also means owning up to your part in things without blame, shame or guilt.
If you are in conflict with someone, it means they might be fueling your emotions and vice versa. This is where compassion comes in to understand that both of you are doing the best you can at this point in time.
It is not about right or wrong, but just simply what is so.
What is life like when you are emotionally aware?
Life becomes lighter and more fun because you are not tied to the outcomes of your decisions. You can make mistakes without beating yourself up, instead, you learn from them as every human does throughout their life.
This leaves room for new experiences that will evolve you into a better version of yourself.
Taking responsibility for your life also means learning to be accountable for your feelings so that you are not creating more pain for yourself or others around you. You will also feel empowered because you know that the choices you make today affect your life, they don’t happen by chance.
Not knowing how to care for your emotions can lead to depression, addiction, self-harm and other destructive behaviors.
In order to be a whole, well-rounded, mindful person you need to take care of your emotions in a way that is gentle and compassionate for yourself.
How can you become aware of your feelings?
Becoming aware of your feelings is a conscious choice. This means that you have to sit with these questions:
- What am I feeling right now?
- How am I feeling it in my body?
- What are the thoughts that go along with this emotion?
You can also ask yourself these questions if you feel things coming up during meditation or unplanned moments throughout the day.
It may be helpful to sit with a pen and paper to write down your thoughts so that you don’t forget them.
Once you have put words to your feelings, you can start playing with them by asking questions like:
- Why do I feel this way?
- What happened in the past that makes me feel this way right now?
- How is what just happened related to my past experiences?
Alternatively, you can ask these questions out loud or write them down on a piece of paper.
If you are in conflict with someone, it is very helpful to write down your thoughts so that you don’t say hurtful things impulsively or lash out in a moment when you are upset about something else.
Once you have written down your emotions and the thoughts behind them, take some time for yourself to sit in silence to allow yourself to feel into them.
You can take a bath, go for a hike or do anything that you enjoy that is not hard on your body.
As you feel each feeling in your body, notice how it manifests itself.
Do you have tightness in your chest?
Do you have butterflies in your belly?
Does it feel like anger is burning in your chest?
Do you feel the tension in your shoulders, back and neck?
This simple exploration of what your feelings are in your body can be very helpful to fully understanding what is going on inside of you.
Once you have become aware of how each feeling manifests itself physically, take some time to journal about it or speak it out loud.
This is where you can learn how to care for your emotions and speak them out with the intention of releasing them so they don’t stay stuck inside. It can be difficult to communicate what we feel so it is best to say things like: “I feel ___________ when _______ happens because ________.”
You cannot control what other people say or do, but you have complete control over how you react to it. Expressing your feelings in a way that is not combative is the best way to communicate what you feel and help others understand where you are coming from.