Here’s a quick way to find out just how in touch with your emotions you are.
Write down, right now, in just 20 seconds, all the emotions you have felt in the last 24 hours (Or type them in your smartphone, whatever). No cheating.
If you’ve got heaps of different words that describe your emotions, well done. Most of us can only get a few basic words:
So what? And anyway, what’s the point of ‘being in touch with my emotions’ when life is pretty tough these days?
If you’re a Brit, chances are you use the phrase “I feel…” and the next word is not an emotion. We’re really good at mangling this stuff. Try these for size:
“I feel it’s unfair”
“I feel you’re not listening”
“I feel it could be risky”
“I feel they don’t understand”
“What’s wrong with that?” I hear you say. Well nothing massively, offensively wrong – yet it is inaccurate. When you say “I feel it’s…”, you’re not expressing an emotion or feeling. You’re expressing a thought or opinion. And quite possibly deluding yourself in the process that you’re ‘in touch with your emotions’.
So try using “I think…”, instead of “I feel…” in those situations where you need to get your opinion heard.
So where does that leave “I feel…”? It leaves a brilliant opportunity for us to raise our emotional awareness of how we feel in the moment and beyond. Ask yourself, “What’s going on for me? How do I feel?” and practise answering this question with words that describe emotions. For example:
As you broaden the range of words you can apply to how you’re feeling, you will notice your mood more often. No, it may not always be appropriate to share what you’re feeling with someone else. But there are probably more situations than you realise when it will be appropriate.
When we’re feeling really good about something, we get clues about what to do more of. When we’re feeling down or really upset about something, we need to pay attention to those emotions too. They may serve as a warning that we need to protect ourselves, have a heart-to-heart with someone, or that a belief we hold dear is being violated. Our awareness of our emotions is essential sat-nav for the soul.