If you’re anything like me, you have done a good job of teaching yourself how to repress your emotions. Happiness, joy, anger, love, powerlessness, excitement, sadness, successful, disappointment, discouragement, I taught myself to dull it all. I had a belief that it protected me from getting hurt. I believed strong people didn’t show their emotions. Funny thing is that one of the best things I learned how to do years ago after hiring my first coach was to question all of my beliefs. Believing the way I had been only kept me from living out loud the way I love to live. It never kept me from getting hurt, I just unknowingly hurt myself ahead of time.
Now, as a coach myself, I have learned that I wasn’t alone with my old beliefs about feeling emotions. Many of my clients struggle with even knowing what emotions are, much less describing them, naming them, and allowing themselves to explore them.
Today I’m going to teach you about what feelings are, why they are so important, and how to start recognizing and feeling your emotions so you too can start living out loud. This is my fourth article in a seven-part series where I teach the five components of the most important tool I teach my clients, the tool that teaches them how to self-coach.
What are emotions?
My dictionary defines it as a conscious mental reaction (such as anger, fear, joy) subjectively experienced as strong feeling usually directed toward a specific object and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioral changes in the body.
That starts to get a bit complicated and you can go on to get more complicated if you chose but I like to simplify as much as I can.
My basic definition of emotion, which I will also interchange equally with the word feeling, is simply a vibration in your body.
All emotions are triggered by your thinking.
Simply put, we have a thought about something in our life; that thought creates an emotion or a vibration in our body. That emotion drives the actions that we take. It’s that simple. That fact is why I talked in detail about thoughts and positive versus negative thoughts; because they create how we feel. Our circumstances do not create how we feel. Our husbands coming home 20 minutes after they said they’d be home doesn’t create how we feel. Him sitting on the couch watching sports after dinner doesn’t create how you feel. It’s what we think about those two things that determine how we feel.
Note that this is very different from a physical sensation that is felt in your body when you are cold, hot, when you stub your toe, or are REALLY hungry.
Why feeling and recognizing our emotions is so important.
These vibrations in our body are signals that tell us what to do, they drive the actions we take. Years ago those vibrations kept us alive in so many ways, like when a tiger was in the area. Feeling joy would have had us as dinner, fear produced chemicals that got our brain problem solving and running as fast as we could to avoid imminent death. Desire kept us alive by producing chemicals that allowed us to procreate, keeping our species alive.
When we are tuned into how we are feeling, we can better understand the actions that we are taking. If we’re fascinated by the fire enough to touch the flame and burn ourselves, we learn to respect the fire for what it can do and use it to our advantage, not to our destruction. We can also start becoming curious about what we are feeling and begin to ask why we are feeling the way we are. Understanding our current emotions helps us to start problem-solving, it helps us to decide how we might change to feel differently. When we are able to problem-solve and find solutions we advance ourselves, we evolve and become stronger versions of who we are.
When we recognize how we are feeling, we start to find clarity around the actions we are taking. If we like how we are showing up and know what emotion drives that, we can begin to develop a thought system that re-creates that positive action-driving emotion. Similarly, if we don’t like the actions we are taking, we can look at what emotion is driving those negative actions and start becoming aware of the negative thoughts creating that feeling. For example, let’s say you have a fantastic weekend with your lover, maybe you even had a pretty good week prior, enjoying time together along with great conversations and you also left him a love note. You could look at what emotions you were feeling on those days and what thoughts drove those emotions. Alternately, when you have a day where you are feeling disconnected, withdrawn, and your hugs are just habitual movements, you can look objectively at why this is happening. Ultimately it is because of an emotion you are feeling generated by a thought you are thinking.
How to start recognizing and feeling your emotions
The first thing you want to do is pause and tune into what is happening in your body. This is where most people stop. They don’t see the importance of pausing and tuning into their body. They think they’re losing time, it’s nonsense, it’s all woo-woo. Those thoughts alone are creating an emotion that is driving the action of not learning how to take care of themselves. The action of not learning how to step into their next best version. The action of not believing in themselves.
Once you prioritize the minute to pause you will start describing what is happening in your body. Here are some simple questions to ask yourself:
- Where is the feeling centered in your body?
- Does the feeling radiate inward or outward?
- Does it feel hot, cold, warm, cool, neutral
- If it had a color what would it be?
- Is it bright or dark?
- Is it prickly, smooth, hard, soft, squishy?
- Does it make your heart race or does it slow you down?
- What is this feeling making you want to do?
- Why are you feeling this emotion?
Then define the emotion. Naming the feeling can be as simple as good or bad to start, but as you do this practice, start exploring more specific emotions, use this chart to help you out. I suggest you do this exercise three times a day; it only takes a minute. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner time or set the alarm on your phone and do it every six hours. If you are feeling something that seems to be stopping you from moving forward, like rage or excitement, please pause, run through the questions and start getting familiar with them. I created a worksheet to help you with this process, download it to help you with this process.
Of all the parts of the self-coaching model, this step will be the most productive on its own. Once you are able to get really good at identifying how you are feeling in any situation, you can start digging into the other elements in this series so you can start putting the individual pieces together to solve any problem you are experiencing in your life. Because you feel emotions physically, you can tune into them and ask yourself what they are telling you.
If you’d like help learning more about your thoughts and what they are creating for you, please read this post and download the free Relationship Abundance mini-course I included in that article. The course will help you start changing your autopilot thoughts and empower you to think thoughts that propel you into the future relationship of your dreams!
I am a life coach who works with individuals looking to change their current or future romantic relationship – my program helps them discover that they are enough. This self-love empowers and equips them to take continual, forward steps in achieving the healthy, romantic relationship they desire. Are you ready to explore this journey in your life? Schedule your program inquiry call today and let’s decide together if this is your next step to creating the life you’ve been dreaming of.