Understanding your emotions can change your life
DIFFERENT PEOPLE define emotion in different ways. John D. Mayer says, “Emotions operate on many levels. They have a physical aspect as well as a psychological aspect. Emotions form the bridge for thought, feeling, and action – they operate in every part of a person, they affect many aspects of a person, and the person affects many aspects of the emotions.”
Our emotions control our thinking, behaviour and actions. Emotions affect our physical bodies as much as our body affects our feelings and thinking. People who ignore, dismiss, repress or just ventilate their emotions, are setting themselves up for physical illness. Emotions that are not felt and released but buried within the body, can cause serious illness, including cancer, arthritis, and many types of chronic illnesses. Negative emotions such as fear, anxiety, negativity, frustration and depression cause chemical reactions in your body that are very different from the chemicals released when you feel positive emotions such as happy, content, loved, accepted.
The way in which we have been socialised, and the belief system we have adopted has a powerful effect on our behaviour; what we believe, acts as a filter for what we see, hear and feel; this then determines how we behave in our daily lives. For example, a child raised by angry parents will learn to view the world through eyes of anger and hostility. This child is then likely to grow up either believing aggression is the norm, or being very fearful.
Another example would be someone who is quite intelligent, but who has never been encouraged or honoured for their intelligence; this person might believe they are stupid. Children, who have never been told how much they are loved by their family members, may grow up feeling as if they have no value and they are not appreciated.
It is therefore quite important that we all take a look at ourselves and examine those beliefs we hold to, which may affect our lives in a negative manner. Knowing your beliefs will give you a sound basis for emotional freedom. The only person who can change what you feel is you. A new relationship, a new house, a new car, a new job, these things can momentarily distract you from your feelings, but no other person, no material possession, no activity can remove, release, or change how you feel.
How often do you hear people say things like “when I have enough money, I would be happier”, only to find there never seems to be enough money that can make you happy. Or “when I’m in a secure relationship I won’t feel lonely any more”, and finding they are still lonely regardless of their relationship. We need to understand that we take our feelings with us wherever we go. New clothes, a new house, a new job, none of these things change how we feel; our feelings remain within us until we release them.
There are only two basic emotions that we all experience, love and fear. All other emotions are variations of these two emotions. Thoughts and behaviour come from either a place of love, or a place of fear. Anxiety, anger, control, sadness, depression, inadequacy, confusion, hurt, loneliness, guilt, shame, these are all fear-based emotions. Emotions such as joy, happiness, caring, trust, compassion, truth, contentment, satisfaction, these are love-based emotions.
There are varying degrees of intensity of both types of emotions, some being mild, others moderate, and others strong in intensity. For example, anger in a mild form can be felt as disgust or dismay, at a moderate level can be felt as offended or exasperated, and at an intense level can be felt as rage or hate. And the emotion that always underpins anger is fear.
How to identify your emotions
Emotions are reliable indicators of what is really going on inside of us. There are many ways to identify emotions
and you will have to choose the manner that is most suitable to your personality. Some people need to do this in solitude, whereas others need to do this with others. Some will want to write, while others will use a much more casual approach. Sometimes it’s best to combine a number of approaches for a deeper identification of emotions. The following are a few methods you can use to identify what you are really feeling about a person, place, situation or thing.
Identifying your emotions is the first step to a rich and healthy emotional life.
– We become so accustomed to thinking in certain patterns that we are no longer aware or conscious about our thoughts and daydreams. Catch those daydreams, hold the thoughts, and bring them up into your conscious mind. This will tell you a great deal about yourself, what you love and hate, and about your relationships.
Identify your “Little and Unimportant Hurts” – More people walk around saying it’s not important or it doesn’t matter when it is very important and a big piece of hurting emotion is buried within them. They will describe this hurt as being small and unimportant. Men tend to do this rather frequently. The ‘macho-man’ approach, of not allowing anyone to see just how affected they are by different things. Many times we say ‘ I am not bothered’ but within an hour, we may have brought up the issue in conversation repeatedly; this says then that you are more bothered than you may be willing to acknowledge.
Memories That Won’t Go Away: If you keep remembering situations, hurts that happened some time ago, you are guaranteed to have repressed emotions around this person or situation. You will need to pull this situation out and re-feel the hurt around it. Forgiveness is something that occurs as a result of owning and releasing your emotions. We often reach for forgiveness without doing the work required to release emotions of hurt and anger. Forgiveness is a result of an emotional process. There are no short cuts.
Be Specific About The Emotions You Are Experiencing: Confusion occurs when people are trying to get to know their emotions because they speak in general terms rather than specific emotions. A good example of this is depression. You may be experiencing loneliness for people, loneliness for God (spiritual loneliness), boredom, and a lack of creativity in your life. You may be feeling abandoned because of a death or divorce. If you just say you are depressed you will have great difficulty releasing the emotion or finding a solution to the situation causing the emotion. A good example of this is the difference between jealousy and envy. Jealousy relates to being resentful of a person’s advantages be they in social standing, education, profession; or it can relate to resentment of a rival in love or affection. Envy is a discontentment or resentment aroused by anther’s good fortune or success.