How can you manage your feelings if you don’t know what they are? Only about one-third of adults can accurately identify their emotions, according to the bestselling book Emotional Intelligence 2.0.
Maybe you were discouraged from expressing your feelings when you were growing up. Maybe you judge yourself harshly for becoming angry with your children or jealous of your partner.
Whatever the reason, bottling things up could be holding you back. Discover a new and more constructive approach to getting in touch with your emotions.
Benefits of Connecting with Your Emotions:
1. Gain self-knowledge. Increasing your self-awareness enables you to develop and grow. You can clarify your goals and direct your energies toward the activities that are meaningful to you. It’s the first step in living with a sense of purpose instead of operating on autopilot.
2. Enhance your relationships. Understanding yourself and others also makes greater intimacy possible. You’ll be more sensitive to how your loved ones are likely to react to any situation, and you’ll be able to provide more empathy and moral support.
3. Build resilience. Any challenge is easier to overcome when you’re able to identify and regulate your emotions. You’ll have the motivation and skills to deal with setbacks without letting them undermine your self-esteem.
4. Achieve more. Emotional awareness also maximizes your productivity. You can collaborate effectively with others and make sound decisions under pressure.
Strategies for Identifying Your Emotions:
1. Name your symptoms. Try to label what you’re feeling. Make your language as specific as possible. Sadness could mean grieving for a lost pet or feeling listless on a rainy day.
2. Look deeper. Keep in mind that your behavior may be deceptive if you tend to cover up feelings that you think are inappropriate. For example, do you hesitate to show affection because others might take advantage of you? Examine your true motives.
3. Listen to your body. Physical sensations can reveal important clues about your emotional state. A clenched jaw and furrowed brows could indicate anger. Relaxed muscles and a warm glow suggest you’re happy about something.
4. Meditate regularly. Create a quiet time and place for exploring your emotions. Observe your feelings without making judgements.
Strategies for Sharing Your Emotions:
1. Talk it over. Practice putting your emotions into words. Tell others how you feel and why. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable can be scary, but the rewards are worth it. You’ll connect on a deeper level and feel more secure.
2. Start small. If certain subjects seem too sensitive, you can prepare yourself by discussing things that feel less risky. As you become more confident in your skills, you’ll be able to address larger issues with ease.
3. Work out. In addition to conversation, physical activity can be another outlet for strong feelings. After a rough day at the office, invite your coworkers to join you for a CrossFit class or a long walk. Tensions may melt away without saying a word.
4. Do something creative. Art projects can tell the world how you’re feeling too. If you struggle with painting or sculpting, you can choose any medium that works for you. Pour your heart into baking cookies or designing a board game.
5. Seek counseling. If you need more help dealing with your emotions, ask your physician or friends for recommendations for a counselor you can talk with. Therapy can be a safe place to process past experiences and try out new behaviors.
You may feel uncomfortable temporarily as the emotions you’ve ignored come to the surface but stick with it. Increasing your emotional awareness will prepare you for a happier and more successful life.