Be aware of all your emotions.
The first step is bringing your feelings, emotional experiences, and attitudes into conscious awareness, recognizing them, and accepting their existence without judgment.
Are you aware of your feelings? What are you feeling right now?
You can bring more awareness to your feelings by consciously focusing on how you feel, and intentionally observing your body and your breath. Take a moment several times a day to stop and check in with how you are feeling.
Self-reflection is also an important part of becoming aware of your emotions. There are many techniques for self-reflection, such as journaling, meditating, and writing down your dreams. Expressive activities, such as art and dance, can also put you in touch with emotions that you might not be aware of consciously.
Accept all emotions without judgment.
As children, we expressed the full range of our human experience without suppressing or denying any emotions until we were taught to repress them. If we are to have the richest experience of our life as adults, we must return to acknowledging the full range of human emotions.
Are you equally accepting of feeling joy and sorrow, fear and curiosity, anger and forgiveness? If you could use some help in this area, explore some practical suggestions for working with your emotions.
Acceptance begins when you give yourself permission to honestly acknowledge what you feel, without judgment or censure. Practice by telling a close friend or support person how you feel and ask them for feedback.
For example, if you have difficulty expressing anger, identify scenarios in which anger arises and play-act these with a support person to explore appropriate expressions of anger.
Recognize that you control your attitudes and behaviors.
It is important to know that you control your attitudes and behaviors, as well as the expression of your emotions. You have the power to make conscious choices in your attitudes and behaviors. This includes nurturing a foundation of healthy self-esteem, based on honesty and compassion.
Consider some questions to help assess your awareness of your attitudes.
- Are you aware of attitudes and beliefs that are limiting in your life?
- Can you identify choices you are making in your expression of emotions and your behaviors?
- Are these choices optimal for you?
- Are they leading to your own health and happiness?
- Do the people in your life promote positive thoughts or do they reinforce your negative limiting beliefs?
- Do you believe in yourself in a supportive way?
Express true emotions.
Learning to honestly express your true emotions and attitudes in a way that is self-responsible and respectful of others is essential for your own health. Our emotions and our behavior must align, or we become frustrated or suppressed. We need to learn to adjust the expression of our emotions to fit the circumstance, based upon our own sense of comfort and integrity in the moment-not based upon old messages of how we "should" be from our past.
True understanding comes when people in relationships can honestly use feelings as guideposts to growth. Negative emotions are a real opportunity to enhance self-understanding. These emotions are not harmful if expressed appropriately, in a timely way, and released. It is just as important to express the positive emotions, and not minimize or subsume them. Consider some practical suggestions for emotional self-responsibility.
Shift emotions consciously
Once you recognize an emotion you are feeling, you may decide that this particular emotion isn't helpful for you in that moment or circumstance. This is not to deny an emotion or to avoid processing it later, if necessary. Rather, it's about making a conscious decision to shift your feeling state.
Positive feeling states are associated with healthier bodies, improved thinking, and enhanced decision-making capabilities. Intentionally invoking a positive feeling state can enhance our ability to function in our lives. On the other hand, when we are negative, frustrated, or angry, we tend to lose focus and become less effective.