February is often associated with one specific emotion, the one that can alternatively make or break you, depending on the circumstance - Love. Although love in its various forms does play a big part in your relationships and connections, humans are a host of emotions. The value in taking the time to understand and grow in awareness of your own emotions is not only for your own mental benefit, but for further success in all areas of your life where you interact with people. In other words, being smart about emotions is vital. It might seem overwhelming to tackle, since there are so many issues that can be connected to our emotions. However, if we take it step by step, the process becomes lighter and we walk with freer feet. So let’s take a step forward.
Tips for Tuning into Emotions:
1. Listen to your body. The body communicates clear messages, but often they can be ignored because people don’t see it as the resource that it is. Treat your body as the expert on you and listen when it gives you signals. This can happen in many ways. For example, if you feel a deep, sinking pull in your stomach when you have to deal with a specific person, it’s your body’s way of telling you something is not quite right in the dynamic of that relationship.
2. Identify the emotion. It might seem like a simple step, but it can take a few minutes to actually explore what emotion you are feeling. Sometimes we present an emotion when a different one is actually the motivating force behind the scenes. For example sadness or fear can come out as anger. It’s okay if you can’t identify it right away, just start the process of looking and you will find it. Ask yourself why you are feeling the emotion and let your brain follow the thread. Your subconscious holds information just waiting to be tapped into and explored.
3. Feel it and release it. Positive emotions are easier to embrace, not only because they feel good, but because society tends to highlight them as the healthier ones. However, the negative emotions are just as natural, normal, and beneficial once you can embrace and express them in a progressive way. Allow yourself room to sit with whatever emotion is present and feel how your body reacts to it. For example, some difficult emotions might make you cry, or even scream. Let yourself feel and then release the emotion. If it stays inside, you are stuck with it and become blocked.
4. Learn from it. The emotional indicators are not just there for the feelings. Wisdom comes from the process of being present with your emotions. Whatever experience brought you to the emotion is worth evaluating to understand yourself and others better. Write it down so that you can analyze the information and see what it tells you for future experiences. Answer these questions as you write: What do you remember? What are the key details? How did you feel? Once you have all of the information in front of you, clarity begins to come. Now you are better able to understand the what and why of the situation and see the emotional impact it made.
5. Show Compassion. Stop keeping yourself in a place of blame or guilt. Open yourself up to fully embrace your emotions. Offer all of the compassion you would show a cherished friend. You will have space to explore and grow if you can accept and love yourself.
6. Share the love. Connecting to your own emotions not offers the benefit of better self awareness and growth, but opens the way for you to see others through a lens of empathy. Empathy allows you to try to imagine what another person might be feeling and thinking so that you can have a sense of compassion for them in that circumstance. Without first having compassion for yourself, it’s challenging to have it for others, so don’t miss this step.
7. Practice. One is the loneliest number. You can’t operate in one and be done with your emotions. If you focus and put in the effort it will become more second nature, but this is still a skill to be honed.
Emotions are a key part of who we are and how we function in life. Knowing how to understand our personal emotions and process them is not a skill that comes naturally, but it can be learned. In finding a greater understanding of ourselves, we can then see value in others. It is then we can begin to see the humanity in all of us.