WHEN the weight of the world seems like too much, do you sometimes think to yourself “this situation is hopeless” and generally feel “down”? Or are you able to pinpoint a more specific emotion, such as grief or despair?
60 to 80 thousand -that’s how many thoughts you have, on average, each day. These thoughts are your perceptions of the world (not facts) and judgments entangled with emotions—some helpful (I’ve had a great day today and worked hard and I blitzed my presentation;), others negative (Everyone thought that I looked like a fool during my presentation;).
Are you aware of your thoughts?
If you pay attention to these thoughts, you would be amazed to discover that most of them are useless, unimportant thoughts that pass through the mind with a huge speed. These are words you repeat in your mind, comments the mind makes, repeating what you heard said, questions, answers and a lot of senseless wandering thoughts that you might not even be aware of.
Research tells us that attempting to ignore our emotions only makes them scream louder. In a famous study by the late Daniel Wegner, a Harvard professor, participants who were told to avoid thinking about white bears had trouble doing so; later, when the ban was lifted, they thought about white bears much more than the control group did.
You may be able to relate to this if you have ever dreamt of chocolate and cake while following a strict diet.
What is an emotion?
Well according to Merriam-Webster an emotion is:
A conscious mental reaction (such as anger or fear) subjectively experienced as strong feeling usually directed toward a specific object and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioural changes in the body.
Emotions are energy in motion. It is important to distinguish between Emotions and Feelings so you can manage them both. An emotion is induced by a trigger. A feeling is the expression of that emotion. Emotions are pretty standard and set, but the feeling is unique to each person.
For example: we all have the emotion “sad,” but how each person experiences feeling sad is very different.
Here are the primary emotions and an associated feeling for each:
Being able to recognise and comprehend your emotions is particularly important if you are to allow yourself to feel and express them.
You may find yourself in a habit of supressing, denying and avoiding your emotions. We were often told not to cry or complain as children and this sets up a pattern of avoidance.
Let’s explore the 4 ways to get a more accurate and precise sense of your emotions, so you can manage them
Step 1: Acceptance
That means not acting on every thought but rather paying attention to them and letting yourself experience them.
Identify and accept your feelings rather than rejecting them OR trying to squash them
Taking a few deep breaths -notice what’s going on—both internally and externally
- You may experience some negative feeling, that’s ok
- Allow compassion to come in as you access the reality of the situation
- And just sit with it
- You may feel somewhat uncomfortable but this will dissipate shortly
Step 2: Broaden your emotional vocabulary
To enhance your emotional skills its helpful to be able to name them. Studies say that emotion differentiation is linked to improved emotion regulation and a variety of better outcomes, and that a more specific use of emotion words plays some role in improving emotion differentiation as a skill.
The sooner you know what you’re feeling, the quicker you can take effective emotional action.Broadening your emotional vocabulary can help you:
- Understand what you are feeling
- Allows you to see your feelings for what they are
- Identify your emotions
- Express yourself more precisely
- And regulate your emotions more quickly
It’s just as important to do this with your “positive” emotions as well as the “negative” ones. As you name your emotions, also rate them on a scale of 1-10.
Try asking yourself these questions:
- How deeply are you feeling the emotion?
- How urgent is it, or how strong?
- Does that make you choose a different set of words?
Step 3: Write about your emotions
Get your feelings down on paper gives allows you to process them. People with the skill to write their emotional experiences with granularity and detail are less likely to be overwhelmed in stressful situations,
James Pennebaker has done 40 years of research into the links between writing and emotional processing.
His experiments revealed that people who write about emotionally charged episodes experience a marked increase in their physical and mental well-being.
Step 4: Acting on your values.
Being aware of your thoughts and emotions puts you in the driver’s seat so you can make deliberate choices.
You may decide to change your thoughts in order to yield a more favourable emotion so you can act in a way that aligns with your values.
And here is some food for thought……
Try becoming an observer of the currents of thought that flow through your mind. Imagine that you are sitting by the side of a river watching the river flow by, sit by the side of your mind and watch.
The flying birds of thoughts, the flowing river of thoughts in the same way, silently standing on the bank, you simply sit and watch.
Don’t do anything, don’t interfere, don’t stop them in any way. Don’t repress in any way. If there is a thought coming don’t stop it, if it is not coming don’t try to force it to come. You are simply to be an observer
Becoming aware of your thoughts and learning to manage your emotions are your emotional tools for life. And the better you get at it the more control you will have over your actions and the results you see in your life.
If you’d like more inspiration to chew on instead of whatever’s in your fridge or pantry consider reading my regular posts.
If you are ready to start managing your emotions and start taking action on your goals then lets chat.
It’s FREE and it might just change your thinking.
Emotional Eating Coach
BSc (Biomed), Cert IV (PT), Wellness Coach (Level 3))
I coach 35+ women to put downtheir fork and pick uptheirlife. If you want to end your struggles with excess weight, stress and self-belief, using your strengths and capabilities,book a free 15-minute mini-coaching session with me and I’ll show you how to transform your life.
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