“We are not what we feel”
Emotions are the language of the soul and the unconscious mind and we have to learn to uncode it
Emotions are felt intensively and they are perceived subjectively, they are the consequence of a psychological response to a thought, situation or perception. Our behaviour expresses itself differently in front of our different emotions. We know mainly 6 basic emotions: fear, disgust, anger, surprise, happiness and sadness.
Robert Putchik (1927-2006) created the wheel of emotions which is a powerful tool to understand the different emotions and subcategories. He proposed different emotional dimensions that intertwine with each other.
Emotional Wheel R.Putchick
Emotions are also felt simultaneously and this might bring conflict within. For example before thinking about having a child or getting married, we might experience different emotions one after the other, almost contradictory.
“ We might be the master of our own thoughts; still we are the slaves of our own emotions.” Naraya Singh
Emotions create physical experiences. We might feel them so intensively that they turn into muscular tension and body pain. Sometimes, we can feel our hands becoming sweaty or our hearts racing . These reactions are controlled by our sympathetic nervous system together with our amigdala- the system that makes us react in a flight-fight mode in the face of danger reacting in a protective manner. For example, a lion is ready to face any danger while a rabbit runs away and plays dead. We have both these mechanisms within.
We have to avoid being hijacked by our emotions and understand them as states bringing us the opportunity to reflect, express, expand, become cautious and value what we‘ve got.
We are much more than our momentaneous feelings and behaviours, we should not live in them and allow the emotion to distort our reality and the way we perceive life.
Introspection, self awareness, self regulation, empathy and intrapersonal skills help us understand our own emotions and when nurtured, developed and worked on help us become more assertive with what we need and desire as we are able to express it in an effective manner.
Culture and society customs play a role in expressing emotions but we all have and feel them, it is part of human nature.
Today I would like to share strategies I use with clients and myself when dealing with emotions to be able to gain emotional management.
Dealing with emotions guidelines:
- We are not our emotions, we feel them within but we are not them. When we are able to dis-identity our persona from our feelings, we gain perspective and understanding.
- Emotions do not require reactions all the time, they don’t always need to be dealt with. Acknowledging and recognizing their existence; is enough for them to cease.
- Emotions can come and go, welcome them but don’t give them room for them to take charge of you and your behaviour. Take back the driver’s seat!
- Understand that emotions can have hidden messages for us to attend to and understand before they are untriggered. Counseling, coaching and psychotherapy helps understand and heal these triggers and trauma attached.
- Sometimes emotions are the outcome of a conflict within, split parts of self willing to fix life situations through different paths and ways.
- Shaking our body or tapping with our hand where we feel the emotion stuck, helps us release the emotion from our body.
- When we imagine the emotion possessing a colour, we are framing it mentally. By giving it space and placing our emotion in our body – the somatic- we are giving the emotion the opportunity to leave.
- Breath is also a very powerful tool to release the emotion out of our system.
- When we exclude, repress, decline and block an emotion, it is likely to come back with more strength later on – as a volcano.
- Emotions are part of life and being a human. If we allow them to be, express, channel and work towards understanding them, they can create great insight.
- Practicing and incrementing our emotional intelligence through self awareness, empathy and social skills development with coaching, personal development books and curriculums.
When we gain emotional intelligence we are able to gain awareness and understanding of our strengths and weaknesses. We get the drive to face them and work step by step on them, empathize with the needs and reactions of others and are able to listen in a non judgmental manner, moreover, self regulate them through the given strategies.
As the great Aristotle said “ Knowing self is the beginning of all wisdom”.
Clara Garcias, 8th of October 2020, Kampala, Uganda.
Featured Image: Inside Out Movie