Understanding Your Emotions

At any point of time in our lives the quality that we attribute to any experience is almost always a result of how we feel at that given moment. In other words, the human experience is ultimately an experience of feelings and emotions. Life will always have its up and downs- for this reason human emotion can be complicated, confusing, and sometimes even downright ugly. No matter how charmed your life is, you will experience a range of emotions from joy, love, and exhilaration to sadness, anger and fear- it’s all part of the human experience. Although we cannot predict the emotions that we will encounter, we always have a choice in choosing what to do with them.

Why is it important to understand our emotions?

Your emotions have a purpose: they are signals that can tell you important things about yourself, if you listen. Anxiety can be a sign that you need to be alert of a potential danger. Anger might occur when you feel you’ve been violated in some way. And sadness can be a validation that you have lost something valuable. It’s as if you’re body is saying, “Look at me; something in your life needs attention!” They key to striking a balance is not to remove all unhappy emotions, but rather to reduce the amount of time they exist and to decrease the distress that gets created around them. Numerous studies have repeatedly proven that harboring negative emotions have a detrimental affect us not only on a psychological level but on a physiological level as well. In other words, your body responds to the way you think, feel and act. This is often called the “mind/body connection”. Poor emotional health can weaken your body's immune system, making you more likely to get colds and other infections during emotionally difficult times. Also, when you are feeling stressed, anxious or upset, you may not take care of your health as well as you should. You may not feel like exercising, eating nutritious foods or taking medicine that your doctor prescribes. Abuse of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs may also be a sign of poor emotional health. On the flip side, positive emotions like appreciation, compassion, and love not only feel good, but they promote good health for the mind, body, and soul.

So what’s causing you to feel this way?

Unfortunately our society does not provide the appropriate environment to develop our emotional intelligence. In modern schooling most of the focus is placed on developing our intellect and our capacity to become productive enough to earn a living. If you are lucky you might have had parents or other care-takers who took the time to teach you basic life skills which include a healthy way of handling and interpreting your emotions. Sometimes a lot of the conditioning we grow up with tends to follow stereotypes- men grow up to believe that showing their feelings too often is a sign of weakness. To protect their masculinity they refrain from expressing their feelings and choose to bottle them up instead. A lot of cultures in the world such those in the Far East and certain parts of Northern Europe support the curtailment of excessive emotional expressions.

The modern day lifestyle does not help too much either- the pace of life has become faster and more hectic than ever before. Members of the infamous “rat-race” of everyday living are over stimulated by various sources which often numb their brains and block them from connecting with their inner world- making them more like “zombie-like” creatures. As Dr. Deepak Chopra says, we are slowly becoming “human-doings” instead of “human beings”. It is essential for us to slow down and take few minutes to stay still and focus on what is going on within us- connecting to our core and our true essence. It is imperative for our overall well-being!

To a large degree our ability to feel and express emotions is dictated by our biological disposition. Due to our genetic make-up we are predisposed to certain kinds of temperaments that significantly effect our emotional reactions across various situations. All of us can identify people in our lives who may seem “chilled-out” and others who can easily get worked up by the smallest things. It is extremely important to keep this in mind when forming partnerships of any kind- personal and professional.

Day to day management of emotions:

When you are intentional with your emotional energy, you improve interpersonal interactions, and lead a happier life. Here are some tips that that might help:

  1. Notice, acknowledge, and honor your emotions: "Wow! I'm pretty upset. Where is this upset coming from, and what do I want to do about it?"
  1. Breathe and center yourself: Put a moment of awareness between the event and your action. Give yourself time to notice your emotional energy and decide what to do with it.
  1. Act purposefully: Think rationally about any occurrence and then react accordingly to the situation rather than out of impulse.
  1. Emotions happen. And we can make choices about how we manage them: By gaining awareness in the heat of the moment, you will become more practiced at managing all of your emotional energy with intention and purpose.

The blessing of feelings

At its essence, a meaningful and successful life requires being attuned to what is on the inside, beneath the mental analysis, the appearances and control, and beneath the surface. It requires being attuned to the heart, the center of our emotions and outgoing reach to the world. This awareness will give the experiences in your life an added depth and increased dimension. Our heart activates our deepest values, transforming them from something we think about to what we actually do in our life. The heart is the place of courage and spirit, integrity and commitment - the source of energy and deep feelings that call us to create, learn, cooperate, lead and serve.

An excellent talk about human emotions by Daniel Coleman, the author of the best-seller “Emotional Intelligence”.

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