- Knowing our emotions
- Managing our emotions
- Recognizing emotions in others
- Managing our relationships with others
- Motivating ourselves to achieve goals (in spite of emotions)
You can't manage your life until you learn to manage your emotions!
Identifying emotions is the first step in achieving high emotional intelligence. We often stop short of basic emotions such as angry, afraid, happy or sad. However, these emotions are most often secondary to the original emotion. For example, you might say you're angry that someone forgot to pick you up. However, what you're most likely feeling under the anger is forgotten or rejected. The deeper emotions are often hidden by our reaction to them and are therefore quickly masked. The better we can name emotions, the more likely we can address the need that is underlying and often hidden from our consciousness. Bringing the need to our awareness gives us the power to get the need met. However, we've often denied or ignored the need because we perhaps don't know how to get it met or don't feel we're worth getting it fed. Those are beliefs - and our beliefs drive our behavior. They are rooted in emotions. None of this can be addressed without first identifying and becoming acquainted with our true emotions.
Mismanaged emotions affect us and the relationships around us. Mismanaged emotions can cause health problems. It is well documented by physicians, psychiatrists and psychologists that stressful events, emotional distress, or our evaluation of unpleasant events profoundly affect our health. Our body responds to stressors but isn't meant to live within the stressful state for long periods of time. Various body organs have to work harder to manage stress levels and therefore shut down or are impaired over time by strenuous work. Anger and fear, for example, cause substances to be released in our blood which increase the chance of clots forming or high blood pressure.
Mismanaged emotions harm others around us as we reflect emotions with short tempers, irritability, defensive behavior, mind-reading, lack of bonding, etc. We can become exhausting for others to try and maintain a relationship with us. Getting in touch with your emotions will help you develop and sustain healthy relationships and enjoy life more abundantly.
Your self-talk and beliefs mainly determine your feelings and behaviors.
Once you've been able to identify (name) an emotion beyond the basics mentioned above, the next step is to be able to rate the emotion. Being sensitive to an emotion isn't enough - now you have to understand the impact the intensity has upon you.
Everyone experiences emotions differently. You might recognize emotions first in your body. for example, you might feel tense in your neck or feel a knot in your stomach. You might recognize emotions first in your behavior such as suddenly cleaning or speeding up. It's important to pay attention to yourself to best understand how your emotions talk to you. Our culture is one of maintaining a fast-paced lifestyle. This does not allow you to listen to your body and emotions. Quite often the fast-paced lifestyle is actually a way to avoid this very thing.
Take an emotional inventory: Spend a morning, afternoon or even an entire day logging your emotions each hour. Notice what is happening around you and how you are responding. Don't judge the emotion as okay or not okay - simply become aware of how your body communicates emotions to your mind. Be honest with what you feel - no one else needs to read your log.
Experience your emotion - it won't last. You can picture your emotions like the waves of the ocean. They come and go - they are never permanent. I had my first experience with the ocean as a teenager. A friend explained how to 'go with the wave' or 'dive into the wave.' I never quite got the hang of it. All I found was that I was tossed by the waves to where my head hit the floor of the ocean, I was turned in all sorts of directions so that I didn't know which way was up, and when I stood up the wave had dissipated leaving the water around me ankle deep. all of my struggle during the wave seemed odd standing in such shallow water. Our emotions can feel that way. Int he middle of them they throw us in all sorts of directions and we're unable to make rational choices because of our chaos. When the emotion subsides, we look back curious as to how all of those thoughts and feelings could have happened - often feeling a bit foolish. Observe how long your emotion lasts. Notice what things bring on the emotions and what things take them away.
Remember that you are NOT your emotions. This means that you are not an angry person, but rather might behave with anger often. When you start thinking you are your emotions, think of times that you acted differently.
Remember that emotions are not always true. You don't have to judge your emotions, but do validate that you have them. If you immediately judge emotions they will quickly hide - notice I said they hide...not go away. We are quite comfortable in our culture to say I'm feeling angry. But how many of us will tell a friend or co-worker, "I'm feeling sort of jealous today." Accept your emotions in order to better understand what they are trying to communicate to you. there is a big difference between truth and reality. Truth is an unchanging fact and unfortunately we humans seldom know the truth because of our limitations. Our reality, on the other hand, seems to be truth. We believe it to be so and cannot see other options. God, on the other hand, can see all things - and therefore understands truth. We get a glimpse of how this works when we have children. We understand and are able to see much more than they are capable of. But they truly believe they need that toy, should be able to play outside at all hours, have no need for a bath, should be able to eat sugar all day long and never take a nap. It's very real to them (reality) but it isn't truth. Our emotions block often block our ability to see truth.
Pay attention to what is happening during your emotion. Your body chemistry changes. Temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, intensity of senses and focus of mind all become enhanced with highly charged emotions. Use your emotion log as we go through the posts about what emotions are for and how they impact our body on a physical level.