Guide to self-development (Part 7)
Text: Aina Masood
As a mental health practitioner, I believe that one of the essential skills to know is to put words to your emotions. In other words, to identify and name what we are feeling. As we work on appropriately naming our feelings, we are setting off the path to emotional intelligence, a skill you can learn with practice and patience. We can recognise emotions, understand what they are trying to communicate and see how our feelings affect those around us. Emotional intelligence also encompasses our perception of others and understanding of how they feel.
To begin your self-development journey in the realm of emotions, it is important to remember that emotions are neither good nor bad but have gained different connotations in society. Learning to accept and appreciate all our feelings is a beautiful way of illustrating love and kindness to oneself; to be able to do that, we must develop language to express our emotions. According to research conducted by Brown and colleagues, people can identify only three emotions on average: happiness, sadness, and anger https://time.com/6122081/brene-brown-atlas-of-the-heart/
This shows the dire need to build language to express our feelings and connect. I would suggest printing the Feelings Wheel and referring to it when you are having conversations. The link attached towards the end can be used to learn how to use the feelings wheel. I also suggest watching Brene Brown's show, "Atlas of the Heart".
"We need to acknowledge our emotions as something valuable."
The following steps can be taken to help move in the right direction.
We need to acknowledge our emotions as something valuable. According to research, if parts of our brain responsible for emotions get damaged, it also affects our rational thinking ability. A habit you can develop is answering authentically when asked how you feel and trying to genuinely ask others the same question. When you or anyone around you shows emotions, learn to accept that and be okay with having and showing emotion. Talking about emotions and observing how you react in different situations is the best way to acknowledge our emotions better and develop our vocabulary.
Differentiating and accepting emotions
There are a lot of different emotions and diverse ways to manage them. Unfortunately, we often mislabel emotions and use only a few we know due to the limited vocabulary around emotions. This makes it harder to proceed in the right direction. Differentiating emotions and trying to get to the core of our feelings is an essential step.
Once you have identified what you are feeling, it is time to be able to accept that this is what is being experienced and that it is okay to feel this way.
Reflecting on your emotions
Reflecting on emotions and their origin is crucial in understanding why you feel the way you do, which can help us manage our feelings. You can reflect on your emotions by writing them down, as it actively gives you time to interact and dissect your feelings. You can also do this in therapy within a safe and non-judgmental environment in the presence of a professional.
Managing your emotions and those of others
All the above steps lead us to the final stage of being able to manage our feelings and those of others. Putting distance between you and your feelings is a helpful strategy. You are not what you feel. You can practice creating this distance through the process of reflection. You can accomplish this by writing, reading more on the topic and discussing the emotions with your friends. Ask them how they approach a particular situation or a complex emotion. In navigating the realm of emotions, it also slowly becomes more accessible and easier to manage the feelings of people around you because you start approaching emotions from a different standpoint.
Conclusively, I would like to remind you that it is a long but rewarding process. Don't hesitate to contact me or ask questions in the comments if you have any further questions.