Acknowledging and understanding your emotions is crucial to your wellbeing and growth – but it’s not always easy.
With everything that’s going on around us, it's easy to get swept up in the constant stream of distractions and responsibilities, leaving little time for introspection. Amidst the chaos, our feelings and emotions often take a backseat, sometimes leading to unacknowledged emotional turmoil.
Not sure how you feel? Let’s dive into what it means to be aware of our feelings and explore how to identify them more easily.
Emotional awareness is a strength
Emotions are an integral part of being human. They serve as powerful messengers, helping us navigate through life and make informed decisions.
Ignoring or suppressing our emotions can have detrimental effects on our mental health, leading to increased stress, anxiety, or even depression.
Acknowledging our feelings allows us to better understand ourselves and our reactions, leading to healthier emotional regulation and improved interpersonal relationships.
How to identify your emotions
Identifying your emotions is a crucial step in understanding yourself better and practicing emotional intelligence. Here are some practical tips to help you recognize and name your emotions effectively:
Pause and reflect
A break can do so much! Take a moment to pause during your day and check in with yourself. Create space for self-reflection and observe how you are feeling.
It can be helpful to do this several times a day, especially during moments of stress or when you experience a sudden change in mood
Some people like to use a mood tracker to follow the variations in how they feel and link them to specific events or situations in their life. It allows you to become more attentive to your emotions, but also to understand what triggers them.
Pay attention to physical sensations
You can’t ask yourself “How do I feel?” without paying attention to your physical sensations. Remember that your body and mind are one. Emotions often manifest physically. Listen to what your body’s telling you!
Notice any tightness, butterflies, heaviness, or lightness in different parts of your body. Connecting with these sensations can give you clues about the emotions you might be experiencing.
Label your emotions
The first step in becoming more emotionally aware is to recognize and name your feelings. Sometimes, emotions can be complex, making it difficult to pinpoint exactly what we're experiencing. This is where the emotion wheel becomes a handy tool.
An emotion wheel is a visual representation of different emotions categorized into primary and secondary emotions. We love the Plutchik wheel, but there are plenty of versions available out there!
By using an emotion wheel, you can better identify and label your emotions accurately. Start with basic emotions like happy, sad, angry, and afraid, then expand to more nuanced feelings like content, frustrated, anxious, or relieved. It can be a helpful tool for expanding your emotional vocabulary!
Why not maintain a journal where you can write down your thoughts and feelings regularly? Describe the events or situations that triggered certain emotions or reactions, being as specific as possible.
Journaling allows you to explore the root causes of your emotions and track any patterns that emerge over time. It’s also a way to become more aware of your emotions and more articulate talking about how you feel.
Here’s an example of a journal entry to explore your emotions:
Date: August 1, 2023
Trigger: Traffic jam during the morning commute.
Physical sensations: Tension in shoulders, clenched jaw.
Reflection: The traffic jam made me late for an important meeting, and I felt so powerless and trapped in the car. My frustration was compounded by the fear of being reprimanded at work. I need to find alternative routes or leave earlier to avoid such situations in the future.
Mindfulness and meditation
We never tire of recommending this! Practicing mindfulness and meditation can help you cultivate awareness of your emotions without judgment.
Mindfulness helps you observe your thoughts and feelings as they arise, giving you the opportunity to recognize and accept them without getting caught up in them.
Take a few minutes each day to sit quietly, focus on your breath, and observe your emotions without trying to change them. This practice can help you become more attuned to your feelings and improve emotional clarity.
Art, music, writing, or any form of creative expression can serve as a healthy outlet for emotions. When you get into creative expression, you open up a whole new way to explore and release those deep emotions you might have been holding in.
You'll find that engaging in these creative activities helps you better understand those complex feelings that can be tricky to put into words. It's like tapping into your heart and soul and expressing yourself in ways you never thought possible!
So, why not give it a try and see how it can bring some awesome insights and emotional release into your life?
Talk it out
Never underestimate the power of a good chat. Engaging in open and honest conversations with trusted friends, family members, our online community, or even a therapist about your feelings can really help you better understand your emotions.
Verbalizing your emotions is key to processing and dealing with how you feel. You might also be relieved to find out that you’re not alone in feeling the way you do!
Use emotional check-ins
Periodically ask yourself how you are feeling and try to answer with specific emotions rather than just saying "good" or "fine." This exercise encourages you to dig deeper into your emotional state.
You can do this as part of your journaling practice or simply put a reminder in your phone and take a moment to think about your feelings every day.
Embrace emotional complexity
Struggling to pinpoint how you feel? That’s completely normal. Emotions are not always straightforward.
It's common to experience multiple emotions simultaneously or have conflicting feelings about a situation. Embrace the complexity and explore each emotion separately to understand them better. That’s the best way to avoid getting overwhelmed by your feelings.
Seek professional help
If you find yourself experiencing difficult emotions such as feeling low or anxious most of the time or you struggle to cope with your emotions, consider seeking support from a mental health professional. They can help you to better understand your emotions and suggest strategies that can help you manage your mood.
Being in touch with your emotions is an ongoing process that requires patience and self-compassion. Remember, emotions are a natural part of being human, and it's okay to experience them.
As you become more skilled at identifying your emotions, you'll gain a deeper understanding of yourself, leading to improved emotional wellbeing and more meaningful connections with others.